Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A very personal kind of hell

If I remember correctly, there is a philosophical concept that exists which talks about heaven and hell as something that is highly individualised. I mean, a place that is known and understood only by the person concerned and therefore has value and depth of meaning to that individual.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I do remember it. As an example of this, I can only use the TV show Supernatural, which you should watch, it's hella fun! There is an episode in Season 7 when Sam is taken to a 'private' place to have a conversation with Castiel. Castiel is seen sitting in heaven, a beautiful place with a well-tended garden where a man is flying a kite. Castiel explains to Sam that for each person heaven has a different meaning and that they were talking in the heaven of an autistic man's favourite Tuesday. I found that concept interesting.

Let's go to hell for a short while shall we? For those of you who have read Dante's Inferno, you'll know that it is a place that was created in the imagination of the poet and hence has depth of meaning for him. In this post, I want to talk about my hell - allergies.

I have lived with allergies my whole life. What am I allergic to? It can only be best described as 'particulate matter' - that category of things in nature which fall under the following labels : dust, smoke, incense smoke, cigarette smoke, wood smoke, pollen, congress grass, perfume, petrol fumes, mosquito repellants like Good Knight, Mortein, Hit, etc, and others. I was picked on and made fun of, both by teachers and my classmates for having allergies. I have also laughed at my friend P for sneezing at least 25 times on the trot while our Math teacher was busy scribbling calculus on the blackboard. Mostly, though, I remember having runny green phlegm coming out of my nose and my mother buying handkerchiefs by the dozen just so I could carry a couple extra to school and blow my nose and come back home and soak them in dettol-mixed water.

I remember this teacher, Rani miss we called her, whose only job was to either point out that I was left-handed or tell me to get out of the class and blow my nose because my sniffling disturbed her teaching. I was in class 3.

I remember being called 'mookuchali' because it was a funny name for some people - no, boys. I remember a boy informing me that he described me to his mother as 'that girl with the runny nose' and his mother remembers me as such, even now. She has also never met me.

Right up to the time I was in class 12, when I had to start wearing glasses, this fucking mookuchali shit never left my cursed life.

I was surrounded by dust - a) I was in a school that used stupid, low-quality chalk. b) My school has this huge open ground which is filled with rather fine red sand that tends to fly around all the damn time. c) I grew up in Chennai.

My time as someone allergic to dust is divided into days of debilitating pain when my body aches because of the amount of times I sneeze, and my sinuses are clogged causing my head and neck to hurt, and getting out of bed is a chore because I'm doubled over sneezing, my eyes covered in this crusty layer because they're watery because of my allergies. The rest of the time, the pain and symptoms are not so bad. One that one rare, good day, I'm free.

This life of an allergic that I've lived until now is my version of hell, and you know what? It's a lifelong bloody thing.

To those of you who think that allergies are funny enough to crack a joke about, then please impale yourself with metal that's close to melting point. To those of you who think that allergies are excuses people make, then I would like you to please borrow my ENT system for a little while and live like me and then have a conversation. For those of you who understand, I have some really kickass chocolate chip ice cream with really big, chunky chocolate chips that's a dream to eat. Come home, I'll give you a HUGE helping.

On that note, goodnight and be well. You have no idea how lucky you are, you non-allergic.


  1. I used to be the girl with the kerchief pinned to her frock and sniffing like a dog :(
    I completely understand.

  2. Whenever you have a mild case of allergy affecting your ENT system, eat "Talisa Patradhi Churnam", or mix it in warm to hot water and drink. You can also mix it with honey.

    But since you seem to have a severe problem, drink 5 ml of "Vasakadhyarishtam" every night before going to bed. To add to the strength of the medicine, buy a pad each of "Gorochanadi" and "Swasanandam" - there'll be 10 pills each - ground them and mix them in the above said arishtam.

    I'm using it, and my wheezing has totally stopped. I now use it whenever I feel a shadow of a cold - mookkuchali, as you put it - that is about to hit me.

    I think some people are cursing you for always tempting them with chocolate chip ice creams :P