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Identity

         Its been a long time since i penned something. With the wife ill , now weak and convalescing, I am reminded about a discussion we had about a day ago. The appetite is gaining ground from a point, where there nothing reached her mouth, to now where food finds its way in every form and texture to her stomach. She coughs next to me, while we enjoy a Shahrukh Khan (‘she is his fan’) hosted televised series. The famous indian superstar with fans all over the world.
The anxiety began the day the rash appeared and we debated  a week before what the symptoms are an indication of. There was nausea, loss of appetite and weakness, but not the slightest signs of a fever. There was rash that Sunday, but we all thought it to be an allergic reaction to something she had eaten. But appetite was rare and eating was even rarer. It baffled me to know when and where and what was happening.
The day came when she returned from work with a fever of a 102°F. It was a fight against time to decide whether to hurry to emergency or to fight to bring down the fever. I chose on the latter. It was just me with a napkin and salt water on her forehead waiting for the the analgesic to kick-in. The fever was a tough animal to wrestle with, it took about 2 hours to come to a reasonable 101°F. The fight was not over, I realized, nor did I know whether it was still over. But a battle was won. It took an entire night for the rash to travel the length of her body to her toes, making her face look like a melon and eyes as red cherries .

       The rash confirmed our worst fears, we decided  the virus should have a name  and the symptoms along with the rash allowed us to christian it as Measles. The rash looked familiar, one that I had experienced when I was about 10. Nausea, vomiting and a high fever  rash,  where my mum found it difficult to get me to retain medication. A day later was the doctor’s appointment , and I had to keep her fever below a 100°F with the weapons  we had in our arsanel. This virus had built a sequence of events and had kept our anxiety high with the suspense. All too familiar was the rash that manifested with fever, which allowed us to decide how to begin controling the symptoms. The fever remained below 100°F the next day. Nausea continued unabated.  We did fear that the friends who had been close to my wife, taking care of her during the fever would be affected.
Measles has two names, and each has an identity of its own. We reached the doctors at the appointed time.  After the preliminary work up with a baffled med student, who remained in shock the entire time she took the temperature and vital stats, while I explained all the symptoms, building a very morbid profile of the virus. The doctor jumped in a while later and wasn’t convinced that the character sketch of the virus was enough to name it Measles. We left with more questions than when we came with.
Every contagion has an identity of its own, and to explain, they need personification. Take for e.g. Chicken pox, when it decides to infect an immune system (a person), it enters a space and looks for vulnerabilities.  Just like a thief in the night in case it finds our defenses weak. It decides to introduce itself with pain, body ache and culminates with a high fever . But its pièce de résistance, it the disfiguring pustules it creates to live and take shape to become contagious . And just as the it allows the unsuspecting person to think that he/she is fine, at the end of its stay , it hatches its plan to release into the environment, while shedding drying pustules.
What’s fascinating is the common flu virus is highly fashion conscious and a master of disguises. It recently decided to change into something, that has rendered this year’s vaccine with only 15% chance against last years of >60%. It survives year after year with a changes in its outer coat, evading our existing defenses, and allowing it to infect and wreak havoc. This year it has taken 75 lives and is yet to take a break.
What virologists study , the world over, is the ever changing nature of viruses. Hoping against a day, when peoples worst fears could come true. Our only defense is vaccination, at birth that gives kids and adults a fighting chance. It’s a constant fight that the scientific community has to engage with in coming to terms with infections.

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Walking along the streets of the city

Cool breeze  wraps and caresses me and the sweet kiss rain drops on my face dispel 

I look to empty stares in screens, reflections of loneliness I see in them, they are lost in conversation 

A mother and child in the corner I remember, wrapt in the childs murmur is the mother, eyes closed

An umbrella  her head supports as she chimes to the child

Oh! what bliss the peace in each others company 

Colours, shapes and movement, impart the nature of life

In colour our eyes distinguish the angst of a generation

They want to be heard, seen and met with fulfillment, voices in the din

Oh ! but the attention has drifted, each in their own element with their device

Unsettling the rampant cacophony of banter, drowns those voices

That wonder lost to make believe relics and wonders of modern

Enslaved to chains of glory and charm, albeit are asunder in title redeemed

What then is this pursuit worth, a badge of honor futile, the homeless tread proud

 

Caste

(The conversation was between an auto rickshaw driver an me on the way to the train station, i noticed that he was distributing copies of a court judgement to certain people and asked him what the papers were all about, this led to the conversation that I narrate to you here)

Auto driver( to someone on the street): Please take these papers. I thought it best to dispense with them to the most relevant of people

Me: Curiously” what papers are you distributing?”

D: Do you know so and so organization

M:  Didn’t quite get that could you please repeat

D: So and so organization

M: Haven’t heard of it

D: Are you from out of the state

M: No I am of this state

D: OH! The organization is famous not just in India, its famous throughout the world.

D: Do you belong to any caste

M:  I belong to the general category

D: How can that be, taking the name of a famous Maratha ruler, he said you must at least belong to that community

M: I said no, I belong to the open category (Indians would understand that the open category stands for people who do not belong to any oppressed section of society (caste) to avail of reservations, for jobs, etc.)

The driver was clueless for a long time, so I asked him

M: Why are you surprised that I dint belong to any caste

D: It just cannot be

I had to let him go since I had just enough money to pay him. But before I left I did say this..

M: The leader of your organization converted to a different religion at the fag and of his career and life in order to get away from caste and castist oppression of the society at the time.

We are so bogged down by the expression of our faith and belief that at times we ourselves fail to see and understand in depth what the idols we follow tried to tell us when they were here with us. What remains in us and with us are fragments of information that we choose to keep and regurgitate at convenience when it suites us best. The most prominent example are the words of a prominent speaker on one of catholic religions formost beliefs, which the followers of Prostantinism do not accept. Recently we have our own PM do it for us in a a very eloquent way.

Black lives matter

How many more bodies will it take for you to call it a genocide

sorry

Sorry

Kya boss kya kar rahe ho, he looks at me , turns and says sorry. A while later he passes my by on his bike and looks back and says again “sorry boss”.

This happened on my way to the main building, a motor bike vala crossed me and slowed down in front of me , because se spotted someone he knew and slowed down right in front of me. I almost bumped into him.

I use to like the word sorry. But a sumptuous serving of it every time I was hit by someone’s elbow in a foreign land led me to believe that sorry was the only word in their dictionary. What brought me to this conversation about sorry is the video which was show in the back drop of Swach Bharat. Individuals were interviewed and asked what it meant to have clean streets. What it meant to have a clean surrounding and what was their expectation about it? Everyone was unanimous about the fact that there should be some level of cleanliness and it was good that the government was taking such a step. Later they were shown a video of themselves while one was peeing at a street corner in the open, other were littering in public or spitting. Their immediate response to the reporter was “sorry”, later complimenting the reporter for showing them their mistake and that they would never repeat it again.

To what end is that sorry of any plausible value that too uttered to a reporter documenting the phenomenon. Or to a pedestrian on the road if a vehicle breaks the rules. Damages have been done, lines crossed and moments pass.

What the ultimate point of a “sorry” is, beats me!

A Little More Sauce

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive. (Especially those who grew up relatively less privileged than other folks around them). And I’ve seen more than once where this happens and the next move in the conversation is for the person who brought up white privilege to say, “The reason you’re getting defensive is because you’re feeling the discomfort of having your privilege exposed.”

I’m sure that’s true sometimes. And I’m sure there are a lot of people, white and otherwise, who can attest to a kind of a-ha moment or paradigm shift where they “got” what privilege means and they did realize they had been getting defensive because they were uncomfortable at having their privilege exposed. But I would guess that more often than…

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resume racism

Resume racism, kinda interesting how the commercial world works!