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     Volume 5 Issue 88 | March 31, 2006 |

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Slice of Life


Richa Jha

I have been carrying the burden of my head on my shoulders for some time now. Now ordinarily, you and I walk around with the head high above the shoulders without even remembering it is there. But when the head decides to throw its weight around, you suddenly feel that you would be better headless.

Don't get me wrong, I do love my head, but the different parts have been causing problems and these days I find myself fumbling for solutions.

Let me enumerate. Very mildly put, I think I have had enough of the nonsense my head and face are up to these days. Mostly they take turns to infuriate me, but the process is a rather continuous one. If it is not my running nose, it is my aching throat and the humongous tonsils; when it is not my blocked nose, it is the shooting shock waves in my ears; when it is not the dreadful realities of silver streaks on my head, it is my sleepless eyes! Add to that the most ungrateful memory bordering on amnesia; and top it with the constantly hammering head, roller skating through the entire volume of my dense brain as and when it feels the need for some sport! For the last couple of months, despite the fanciest of medical prescriptions, the above stated circular chain of events, in no specific sequence, has been tormenting me for no apparent cause.

I have tried out all remedial possibilities. For instance, for head aches, purely as an exercise in well-being, I have made the Hubby sit on my head and press down with all his weight. Nothing happened. I have allowed my son to treat it as a drum; it didn't work out. I have even let my daughter pull at my hair as savagely as she could, but the lobes inside my head have thumped and thumped louder in an orgiastic display of power and spite.

So I decided to go the doctor one last time. As always, I suggested the remedy even before he had stopped asking me for the symptoms. I asked him to remove my head, which evoked nothing more than a chuckle from him.

"Tell me something. Do you sleep well at night?"
"No, not these days. But I used to earlier."
"Then sleep well. The day you do that, your head will be fine."

"But don't you see it doc, I can't sleep because of my head, or the nose on the head, or the throat at the base of it, or the ears on the sides of it? My head is the single biggest source of nuisance, and so I want it off."

"Are you in your senses?" he looked at me alarmed, but soon realising that he had again hinted at the lack of something inside my head, quickly made light his comment. "This is a weird joke, and a very unusual one too!"

But I persisted, and said I meant it, and by the time he realised that I was dead serious, he had a shocked expression on his face. All he had wits to suggest was that maybe I had come to the wrong department. He pointed to the psychiatric wing on the far end of the corridor.

I assured him of my sanity. I said, "No problem doc. In my case, it is possible to be headless, because in any case, everything up there is malfunctioning."

He panicked, "No, no, how will you manage without it?"

With a cool disposition I replied, "Oh that's no problem at all. Only a limited number of people use their heads anyway, so head or no head has merely the cosmetic aspect to it."

"No, no no, you don't understand. You say you are a teacher, and a pseudo writer; you have to teach with your head, and preach too, how will you manage?"

"You are mistaken doc; I teach with my heart, write from my heart, and live for my heart. I won't even feel the difference!"

"Oho, let me put it in perspective for you. You can't be famous without your head, can you, and don't you wish to be famous?"

Hmmm. Now this was a tricky one. I raced my throbbing head, and jogged my useless memory and rummaged through the pages of history near and distant.

"It is possible doc, it is possible to be headless and famous. While, in my opinion, most famous people lose their heads somewhere in the course of their climb to fame, let me give you a specific example…" I then quoted from ancient Indian history about this famous Kushan dynasty king whose main claim to fame is the sole headless statue of his that is lying in a museum in Peshawar (I could be mistaken here). That is how this ruler is remembered throughout student-dom, memorized by rote, and quoted on answer scripts as such. Hah! The 'headless statue of Kaniska', the master stroke that silenced the doctor!

The doctor nodded his head with ease (it was obvious, his was giving him no cause for complaints) and assuredness (it was also obvious that he had complete control over his head, which made me feel mighty jealous) and said, "Ok then, if that is what you want, and looks like you have made up your mind, there is very little I can do about it. My Hippocratic oath binds me to my commitment to saving lives, not heads, and so I cannot stop you from becoming headless. You decide when, and I shall make provisions for it. But there's a sincere request. Let me prescribe you some medicines afresh, and you try it out one last time. If it doesn't work out, then I am prepared to go by whatever you say."

"Fair enough," I thought to myself, this time using my head. Of course, I was convinced that the improvement would be minimal.

And so it has been! This morning, I woke up to suddenly find my voice completely gone! While The Hubby has been busy lining up warm water with salt for gargling, and soups for some immediate relief, and zero provocation to ensure that I don't start a new verbal fight, I am gleefully making my mental calculations of just how much I will be saving hereafter in my headless avatar: parlour visits, nasal drops, antibiotics, sunscreens, cosmetics, mirrors, basic ear-jewellery, stylish sun shades, swimming goggles, and so on. And overall peace and tranquillity in the house because there will be one party less in the verbal duel! Things had never looked this good.

If only I had managed to convince my doctor earlier…

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