Friday, February 24, 2006

One flu over the cuckoo's nest!

And since it was a saturday, I looked forward to my email eagerly, hoping that someone might invite me for a party. Surprisingly, since I had been relatively illness-free for a long period of time, an invite awaited me - from WHO and the Pharma Council of india. An invitation to interview Bird Flu at the social diseased party of the year at the garbage dump in Worli near Love Grove Sewer.

And since I couldnt refuse, I got togged up in a cotton suit, and tie and trudged along to the party.

To my surprise, the who's who of the illness world had shown up in all their splendour - Chicken Pox, Jaundice, Cholera, Typhoid, Malaria, Dengue Fever and even Leptospirosis had arrived, looking their virulent best, cloistered with their own pet patients. Evidently nobody wanted to be left out on the arrival of Bird Flu on the global stage. Chronic party crashers like Spondilitis, Arthritis, Rheumatism, Asthma, and Obesity had turned up (some even sitting together on a single patient?!), and were seen hero worshipping the industry bigwigs like AIDS, Cancer, Angina, Heart Blockage, and Renal Failure who was hanging around by the bar sipping on Hapless Mortals and Unknown Patients, counting out his pending dialysis sittings and sipping his blood nervously looking around.

Just as the party began losing steam, and the patients started recovering, Bird Flu walked in, like a giant cake being brought in - with Glaxo, Cipla, Ranbaxy, and SKB trailing behind like sycophants, applauding as Bird Flu made it's way towards the dais.

As Bird Flu walked, rumours and murmurs flew about the kind of growth he had accomplished in such a short time, and how with just a few deaths, Bird Flu had grown in stature to an international epidemic. About how skilfully it had operated and the beautiful coup de grace it delivered to unready administrations. About where it had struck so far - Far East, USA, Europe and now India. Sicknesses whispered, "it was only a matter of time before he came to India - with such a large population and consumer base, it would have been hara-kiri to ignore the indian public.

In a corner of the party, sat a small bent deformed demented person, who called himself small pox sat quietly, sipping on a cheap bowl of soup and crackers. Illnesses whispered that he'd blown up the machines to get out. And that IAF had been red in the face trying to deny the stray case and that small pox and its head honchos had been passe - eradicated by the health police for years.

I shouldered my way across the dance floor where Dettol was dancing the forbidden dance of disinfection - alluring but untouchable, and walked towards where Bird Flu was chatting with the health minister, and Cipla's CMD. I coughed quietly to attract its attention, and Bird Flu turned around to greet me as if I was a long lost old pal. "Arre, Its great to finally meet the disease free Utekkare! so you are here to share in my moment of triumph when I will spell disaster for the Indian chicken industry! You shall see me raise Ranbaxy from its recent debacle in UK and USA, you shall see Cipla ride this wave of grief to greater profits, and you will see the Indians eat more fish than ever before - until the government eats Turkey and makes the medicine / vaccines subsidised... Then I shall turn my attention to some other countries!" All this time, AIDS and Cancer sniggered - since they were atleast uncurables - and would never be out of business no matter how subsidised their medicines were... Let this johnny-come-lately hog the limelight for now.. We are the real killers and we will never be out of favour...

Bird Flur continued to crow about his waxing zenith of his powers... about how the chicken farmers lobby had come to his doorstep to negotiate an agreement - and requested him to bypass India. He said that he wouldnt have infected India if they hadnt reneged on the deal to offer him unlimited access to the chickens in Africa...

And all I could think of was why only Chickens? Why not these stupid pestilential common crows???? And so I asked him, why not crows? After all these creatures were everywhere and could spread the disease much faster than a clucking chicken...

Suddenly there was pin drop silence. Bird Flu turned slowly and the color drained from his face.. He lifted one wing and slapped me across the face. "Dobara mat puchna!!!! Damn fool!" and he turned away.

Malaria and Jaundice took me by the hand and threw me out of the party. I walked home, replaying the events over in my head, thinking that maybe it was for the best and that I have had the opportunity to get close to these diseases.. without getting infected.

As I turned into the dark lane leading to my home, Common Cold, along with Body Ache, Cough, and and Head Ache and Runny Nose jumped out of the darkness and threw me down. As they infected me, they screamed,"That'll teach you to suck up to foreign illnesses.. We demand Poorna Swadeshi!!!!"



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