Some of you may have noticed that this column was missing for the last few weeks. And by some, I mean three people not including my editors, who, like all newspaper editors, were busy figuring out how to compete with listicles online. (“Let’s make clickable paper” is what I heard last, before they returned to their monocles and quills.)
The reason for the absence is that I’ve been resting and recuperating from a lower back injury, which happened because I went skydiving and crash-landed on a remote island, where I was nursed to health by beautiful local maidens whose culture had no place for upper body garments.
Or, y’know, years of bad posture finally caught up with me, resulting in a slipped disc.
As you know, a slipped disc is a painful condition wherein everyone who has ever possessed a spinal cord will feel the need to give you advice. I’m sure they mean well, but this is what all your conversations sound like: Sit down, don’t sit down, lie down, don’t lie down, use ice-packs, use heat, gently simmer back on low flame and add namak swad anusaar and so on.
Most people have trouble believing me because this usually affects people in the age group of Farida Jalal to Alok Nath. But the way I see it, maturity is maturity, whether it exists in the mind, or in your spinal structure. Also, I’m used to falling sick in ways that make no sense. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with tennis elbow, despite the fact that I’ve only picked up racquets to kill mosquitos while pretending to be a Jedi. At this rate, I’m sure I’ll be diagnosed with something weird soon enough, like pregnancy.
I’ve also realized that men and women react to news of illness in very different ways. In this case, my women friends said something along the lines of, “Oh so sorry, that sounds horrible, please take care” whereas the guys’ exact words were – and this is true — “LOL tere ko spinal AIDS ho gaya.”
(This was inevitably followed by the question, “So… does it hurt when you do that thing that you do to yourself on cold, lonely nights and on other nights as well?” to which the correct answer is, “Some goals are so noble, it is glorious even to fail and call for an ambulance.”)
Having a slipped disc feels like being in a game of Mortal Kombat, especially the part where Sub Zero pulls his Fatality move that involves ripping out his opponent’s spinal column, skull attached and all. There are days when you can almost feel a fist clench around your vertebrae as if to say, “Screw you for sitting awkwardly on non-ergonomic furniture for years.” If that sounds too dramatic, then it’s probably the painkillers talking. Seriously, those things are amazing. They can make Stephen Hawking sound like Rahul Gandhi. This is what I sound like on a normal day:
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. Come, let us discuss scholarly matters and say things like, “The bourgeoisie nature of the Fermi paradox suggests a Kafkaesque influence to the neo-classical interpretations of Hegelian thermodynamics.”
And this is what I sound like on painkillers:
WHY IS FLOOR SPINNING HOW IS BABBY FORMED WHEEEE! *throws up*
Painkillers also help me appreciate the little things in life, like the fact that my physiotherapist’s surname is Girey. It was nice of him to name himself after the incident that leads people to his clinic. It’s like going to a lung cancer specialist called Dr. Classic Milds.
Part of the physiotherapy involves electrical stimulation of the affected areas, which, in my case, includes the gluteus maximus aka the tashreef region. So yes, I get to enjoy the kind of vibratory massage that some of you weirdos would pay top dollar for in a dungeon in Amsterdam. It’s not too bad though. I just refer to it as Fifty Shades of Girey.
(Yes, I’m going to blame that joke on the painkillers too.)
(Note: This is my HT column dated 26th Oct 2014.)