The body is like the earth. When pressure builds up, it erupts at the weakest spots – as volcanoes, as earthquakes… Just like what’s happening with your body. There’s no point in treating these separate diseases, they are just symptoms. The root cause is different, and that’s what needs to be tackled.
And so the treatment is scheduled to start. A rather uncomfortable-sounding Ayurvedic session of dropping warm oil through the nose – some kind of cleansing, I am told. This is to be done for seven days, before sunrise. And along with it, I am to maintain the mandatory ‘pathyam’ – strict restrictions on everything from food to lifestyle. The food part is fine – I’ve been on a super-healthy life-style (according to the Ayurvedic school of thought, that is) for some time now, except for an occasional lapse in the form of a random chocolate or slice of cake that a student decides to share with me. I might even survive not washing the head or face, if the rest of me is allowed the routine water therapy.
What is tough is this: I am strictly forbidden to read, write, watch TV or use the computer– the four pillars of my existence. God! What on earth is one supposed to do, then? Rest, I’m told. Take things real easy.
The seven days loom large in my horizon.
I get up with great reluctance. Brush my teeth and stop myself just in time from throwing cold water on the face. Instead, I rub warm wet towel across, as advised. I head to the doctor’s on empty stomach – another mandatory.
My face is rubbed with oil and steamed. The warm oil that is dropped down through the nose sears through the brain as if somebody has taken a quick swipe across the brain with something sharp and spiky. It does not end there – it’s followed by a vigorous, painful and unmentionable session at the washbasin that sets my throat and face on fire. Back in the car, I am for once speechless. A large mug of hot tea at home makes me feel half-way human again, but I feel battered. The rest of the day seems huge and uncomfortable.
Everyone goes out of the way to help me at home. The elder one makes tea, does the dishes. The younger one is extraordinarily well-behaved, and reads out 59 pages of ‘Coraline’ to me, reminding me every three sentences or so that it is CORALINE, and not CAROLINE. The husband does most of the other work in and around the house.
I wallow in self-pity.
The morning ritual is over.
Cooking is over early – it’s a working day for my younger son and husband. The older one has been given what is called study leave, but isn’t. He does everything, except study. Deprived of my usual forms of escapism, the day seems endless. Thoughts, memories come swirling into the mind, like mist rising from a dark, grim bog. Determined not to give in to the darkness, I decide to mess around with the furniture in the living room.
It’s evening, and my husband’s grim face tells its own tale. His brother is serious, and he has to leave for India at the earliest.
The day’s session at the clinic is over, and my husband leaves for India. The boys are so nice to me that I’m beginning to feel guilty.
I set about on a de-cluttering spree, but end up browsing through old photographs that bring back old memories. I wish with all my heart that I could go back somewhere there in the past and start over – a second chance at life, this time devoid of the errors that came with the trials.
My elder son sees me alternately cleaning and looking at the photographs and is indignant. “Amma, you’re supposed to be resting!”
“This is resting,” I counter.
“God! You’re such a MOM!” He shakes his head in weary resignation.
“Yeah, really.” His brother agrees with him, for once.