It’s that time of year when you and I are about to get reacquainted. I see that look of fear in your eyes, although personally, I consider that as a sign of respect. And while I’m mostly seasonal, it shouldn't surprise you that I like to ‘throw my hat in the ring’ and be counted once in a while. After all, it’s important that you know who the boss is. And of course, the people around you too.
The reason I’m writing this is that I’ve started to notice that some of you aren’t taking me as seriously as you probably should be. While it pains me to say this, you’re probably under the spell and false assurances of all those pharmaceutical companies and ‘Indian Babas’ who claim they have the cure for anything and everything. I admit they are quite good with their marketing; even I wondered if my powers have been waning of late. Which is why you’ll be glad to know that I’ve been working out. Extra hard that too, with protein shakes and all the works. So, as a generally benevolent soul, I thought it’s only fair that I remind you of how things SHOULD work out between us.
Now that all the niceties are done with, let's start. Firstly, I am not your usual run-of-the-mill kind of ailment. Naysayers will be quick to tell you that no one has ever died because of me, but I have my own reasons to say that science is perhaps lying. If we dig up the real numbers, I’m sure thousands of men around the world have succumbed to their injuries after I’ve had my way with them. After all, I am quite brutal. So the question is, do you want to be next?
If not, read carefully. Because what I’m about to tell you is perhaps the Holy Guide to get all the love and care that you’ve ever wanted. And I promise not to hurt you much if you follow this ‘Flu Book’ of mine.
I will usually send you some indicators via the universe. A little droopiness here, a little tiredness there. You know, nothing too major to warrant immediate attention, but nothing too small to ignore either. Yes, I like to mix it up a bit. Now, the first thing that I’d recommend you do when you get those indicators is to seize your inner actor (if you have a degree in Drama or Theatre, I’ll go a little easier on you) and start to be a little evasive to questions and reclusive about things. Of course, people will notice.That’s the whole idea. It will serve you well to remember that every thing, even dramatic sequences, have a preset hierarchy. So while it is imperative that you eventually put up a performance that’s worthy of an Oscar, remember that over doing it from step one will only get you a Razzie or at best, a Filmfare award. And those are literally awards you can buy at the store. If you’re going to do something, give it your best shot.
So to reiterate, it’s important to give the right signals. Gradually upgrade the symptoms to low grunts and holding your head as if in pain and generally being subdued. Bonus points if you can add a few sniffles or watery eyes to the mix. It will help speed up the attention-seeking process. At this point, be aware that there are people around you who will mock you in your hour of pain and need. Sometimes, it may even be your wife/partner. I’ve heard some even say things like: ‘You need to be taken to a pediatrician because you’re acting like a baby’. And some friends will be just mean. Make a mental note of their names - they are not your friends. Also, I’ll get some of my other friends to pay them a visit soon.
Now comes the tricky part. This may be easy or hard depending on the kind of person you are. If you’re used to asking for help or sharing information about yourself, that’s great. Just keep talking about the pain, how it feels like a truck ran you over, how your head is pulsating with constant pain as if tiny versions of Federer and Nadal are in there executing one of their never ending volley of shots. Just use these as a reference points - the more creative you are, the better. However, if you’re usually a kind-hearted soul who is more used to helping others in their time of need and are considered generally selfless, this is the time to invoke the ‘repayment clause’ in your relationships.
Make sure you call up all the people you’ve helped and let them know about your malady. Of course, if you are in a relationship, your partner should be your first line of ‘affection’. Although, friends can be a close second too. Just remember that it is of absolute importance that you get them on your side so that they believe you are almost dying. Also be selfless and guilt-free when they offer to help. This is not the time for you hold on to your ego and refuse their love and care. The key here is - Do not be strong. Strong men make me angry. And trust me, you don’t want me to up my game.
There will be cynics around who urge you to just take medicines or pop pills and to ‘man up'. And what’s worse is that some of them who impart you these gems of wisdom are other men. See, men can’t even stick together for the greater good sometimes. Such wusses, I tell you! But yes, the first thing you need to do is believe that no one else has experienced this illness like you have.
Everyone has a different threshold, but the only thing that matters is that you let them know that you feel absolutely knackered. Again, bonus points if you can include dialogues similar to, ‘I need to write a will’ or ‘If I die, please tell our kids/family that I love them’ or ‘I don’t think I’ll make it' in there. In short, turn up your emo game. It doesn’t matter if you are the most aggressively macho man alive; when I tell you to, channel your inner man-child and be as immature, silly and needy as you possibly can. This is one of the few opportunities where you can get away with doing this as an adult.
Do all of this, and I promise to leave you in a short while. If not, well, you better hope you know the medical or ‘baba’ equivalent of the Avengers and the Justice League combined, because I’m gonna make you pay.
Oh, and before I forget. Keep in mind to groan and grunt, and even sigh loudly constantly. The intensity is of utmost importance. It’s not about how severe it actually is. It’s all about how intense you can make others believe it is.
And if by the end of your ailment period, your room (and preferably the house) doesn’t look like the emergency room from Grey’s Anatomy, then I’ll be very disappointed. So make sure you keep that Drama Queen crown all polished and don’t let me down.
See you soon.
[Not to be confused with that silly cousin of mine, common flu]
PS: Women are stronger. Just deal with it.
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