Illness mirrors people like nothing else. Other people I mean. Their nicely tailored coats of various human values threaten to tear to shreds and the tailor when called up claims he is out-of-town.
Some people turn up with baskets of fruits – rich red apples, juicy mangoes and even oranges they claim to have raided the market to locate. The doctor has advised against apples, they are told. What! their tone is shrill. My two hundred rupees worth of fruits and half an hour in the sun degraded with such audacity! Which doctor advises against apples, they ask out loud, their eyebrows strained and lips lifted. Well, our doctor, we reply. Thin-skinned fruits may carry germs but the oranges will do just fine. They condescend to turn that lift of the lips into a smile and don’t stay for too long after the little fruit fiasco.
Then there are those who pay duty visits. Do you actually think you’ll manage to get away with not visiting your sick relative now that you are in the same city? Their sister scolds them over the phone. Now that we have been living in the same city for fifteen years… they silently add. See you moron! What will people think of you? The sister gets busy filing her nails but the same-city relative loses her peace. She turns up the next day and amidst plenty of oh-you-have-changed and oh-life-is-so-busy-you-know she also manages to put in a how-is-your-health-now.
Relatives come in varied forms but the friends also make for an interesting picture. They live in a technologically advanced age where a ‘like’ on Facebook is the new congratulations call for a wedding fixed and a colon with a backward parenthesis the apt reaction for tragic pieces of news. The years of posing for comradely pictures long left behind, they switch to the next current affair in their list of notifications.
I am personally fond of the fruity type. Mangoes make for good afternoon snacks during these hot summer months in Delhi.
P.S.: The above is not to be taken personally. Nothing about it. Zilch.