Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Vaccination

'Let some torment happen,'
A friend prescribes,
A cure to my writer's block.
He's new to the metropolis,
Still with back-of-beyond small town hangovers,
And I am sympathetic that he doesn't understand.
This is not the age of three-day fevers
When you were left to feel breathless delirium,
When your grandmother served you your steel plate (your name reassuringly etched on it) of food and went back to the kitchen
And you treated her with the silence of the betrayed upon returning, for having left you in the first place
At which she frowned and said she had other chores, other people to attend to
Leaving you sheepish about her impatience with the nobility of your tragedy.
(When work relented a bit she would come back to run calloused hands over you and cook something you liked.)
This is a now with no relation to the then
When you waited for your grandfather to come and speak gently while he touched your forehead and announced your temperature without the tedium of a thermometer
(In a manner distinct from when he asked you to translate long Hindi sentences into English)
And you left your head hanging at the end of your bed, inviting a blood rush and a dance of all the stain demons on the walls
As you picked the first song in your head and sang it in a tone that was also a letting out, of a little agony and a lot of ennui
So it hung about in the room long after you had stopped, an awkward guest unsure of its place or the way out
Like the watery dal trail that started from the kitchen and ended in your room
Because of the steel plate of food carried by wobbly hands and knobbly knees.
 
This is not the age of three-day fevers.
This is the age of instant, disease-proof vaccination.
This is not the time for ‘those days’ and ‘those times’, 
To wallow in glorified nostalgia for a not-completely-uncontested-past. 
 
This, today, my friend, I intend to tell him, is the day of 'no matter what; get up, dress up and show up' status messages.
This is when you get vaccines for all the fevers of the season,
Not a three-day leave to watch a fever die of boredom.
That privilege has to be saved for a resort holiday or an 'emergency'.
So pill-popping readies you, dusts the limp pillow that you've become and starches you
For your desk where you sit proud of your victory,
With a stiff approving nod for the figure in the chair that sips coffee but keeps her eyes trained on the screen, alert not to waste a lazy moment.

So, no, I can't just let the torment happen
When there are senior citizens to look after,
When freelancing cannot be allowed to crumble into indiscipline,
When neighbours have to be tackled over parking lot tug-of-wars,
When the gaze has to be returned to leery eyes.

At the first sign of it, torment has to be tackled head on, demolished through immunized determination.
One doesn't just let it happen.
One readies against it,
Prevention being better than cure.
The cure for writer's block
Can be sought through a creative-writing workshop or what have you,
Not through inviting another malady called torment.
 
This is the vaccinated age
Where the pill wins over the will.

First published in 40 under 40: an anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry, June 2016.

 

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