If you think a bad break up causes the most excruciating physical pain (the heart does ache and it is a physical part of us), then you have not experienced a mouth ulcer. Or a persistent dry cough. I have had this persistent dry cough for the last two weeks. It comes and goes, but sometimes it attacks in the worst of places and at the worst of times.
Like two Sundays ago. I woke up feeling ok but while in church, right when the priest was reading the holy gospel, a time when utmost silence is meant to be observed, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Coughs decided to send this cough into the battlefield. It started off as a slight irritation which I tried to contain, then it become unbearable causing me to cough louder than the coal powered train announcing its arrival, and finally my entire body would vibrate so hard with every bout of cough. One by one, the people seated on the pews ahead started turning their heads, sneers pasted across their faces as if to say “How reckless of you to leave your house in this condition!” Just as I was about to step out of church, the cough subsided and did not make an appearance again for the rest of the mass. I guess it had done a stellar job embarrassing me and earned three stars while at it.
Fast forward to last night, after having a long but productive day, I settled in bed at 8pm, same time as the kids. I devoured two chapters of my current read Teacher Man by Frank McCourt, a fantastic book about his struggles as a Teacher in New York dealing with unruly, hormonally charged adolescents. Franc McCourt, by the way, shaped my writing journey when I started off in 2015 after reading his book Angela’s Ashes where he narrates his childhood in Limerick, Ireland, from his perspective as a child.
When sleep finally overwhelmed me, about half an hour later, I gladly acquiesced, as I was looking forward to have my body recharge. I smiled at the thought of the possibility of facing a brand new Tuesday, as I went through possible stories I would love to run on the blog, and I briefly ruminated on my little project which is taking great shape and which I plan on sharing with you before the end of the year. Like a light bulb, I suddenly went off.
The reason I give this preamble is to paint a picture to you, my dear reader, about how perfect I had envisioned this Tuesday to be. I love Tuesdays by the way, so much so, it would take a really bad experience to ruin it. Like the death of a loved one (touch wood), or being completely indisposed and in a hospital bed. In my world, my week begins on Tuesday, hence why I picked the day to run features on the blog. On Tuesdays, hardly ever will I wake up and fail to smell the roses. Except that this Tuesday morning, the roses were no where in sight. I had my grand plans, but the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Coughs had other plans for me.
I have no doubt in my mind that 3am is the devil’s hour, because at exactly this time, I woke up with a start. After a most peaceful sleep, the one where you kinda die momentarily-no tossing and turning, no strange dreams, no awareness of your surrounding even if your bedmate’s snoring is strong enough to cause a mini tremor-I suddenly felt like I was choking and immediately sat up. And then the cough checked in. The dramatic way in which my sweet sleep came to a halt, the cough rendering me helpless, reminded me of this experience I had in Amsterdam in the middle of the night while on holiday with the mister after consuming copious amounts of weed, which I detailedly narrated here “The Space Shop“.
This morning was not any different, except that instead of hallucinations crippling me, a cough was tormenting me. I croaked, and wheezed, and rasped and backed, violently shaking the bed. The mister jumped out of bed, thinking that I was having a seizure and when he realised it was one of those tremors that show up randomly, he stealthily creeped out of the room and went to sleep in the guest room. I am sure at this point he figured he needed his beauty sleep as we both could not afford to be unemployed otherwise how would we afford medical insurance?
The cough persisted, and with every bout, the throat became drier and it felt like a bomb was detonating inside my throat. I went downstairs and fixed some hot lemon, turmeric, ginger and honey, and then I found myself having this weird conversation in my head.
“I always thought having a flu was the worst experience, what with the constant sneezing, the feel of a parasite digging through your nose, the frequent blowing of the nose until it wants to fall off.” Said this voice inside my head.
“Naah, I think a dry cough is the worst. You work so hard to expel stuff out of your throat but instead only hot air comes out leaving you drained and in pain. At least with a flu, the sneezing is relieving.” I thought to myself. The concoction came to a boil, releasing the sweet smell of ginger. I turned off the stove as I contemplated going right back to bed after having my dawa. I would be understandably completely out of commission the entire day and happily spend it in bed nursing my irritated throat. My readers would understand, and so would any other person I had committed to engage with today.
“Ohh, you think you are having it bad?” Popped up another voice. “Would you rather be seated in the washroom after a bout of food poisoning, having expelled everything from your stomach including your intestines, but still, you get this spasms, your body painfully forcing you to exert yourself and excrete some more none existent waste?”
I felt a wave of fear engulf me at the thought of being more indisposed than I currently was. It was gripping, this fear, and my hand shook as I poured the dawa into my favourite cup. And so I went back upstairs, and retrieved my laptop from the drawer. It was a Tuesday after all, the day would have to pan out as planned.