Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Courter of Maladies

Every day, it seems, brings us closer to our deaths. This is never more readily apparent than when a friend or close relative falls ill and we are forced to upend our self-contained lives to offer our limited resources in the service of another whose sudden descent into the vagaries of a despondent mortality assails the illusory sense, that we all share, of the permanent nature of human relationships. I remember when my own grandparents moved into a comfortable retirement home from which they will most probably end their days. There was outrage, trauma and the modern equivalent of wailing and gnashing of teeth by all interested parties at the very thought of it. But circumstances being what they were, we (the family) were forced to finally contend that a more conciliatory alternative to recognizing their immediate needs and the realization that those needs needed to be accommodated perforce was non-existent, and the psychological balm with which to assuage our collective guilt made its absence felt as we gradually faded back into our respective lives after that hated deed was done. 
What is it about human illness that brings about the worst kind of pretentiousness in the concerned bystander? We argue about the kind of treatment that needs to be administered, the kind of doctors that are in attendance, the lack of dignity accorded to the inured patient within the confines of an argued about hospital, and all the while, silently, mull over the advancing costs that the days of infirmity tally up toward. Isn’t there any morality left in the consideration of another’s pain? Every person will need help at sometime or the other. The best we can do is prepare ourselves to accept what will inevitably follow when a loved one falls ill and is unable to continue to care for him or her self. Giving oneself up to the ever-alluring sense that this is not the way it should have been is a self-defeating and dangerous temptation. Hindsight is valid in the case of illness only in its re-visitation. There is nothing worse than seeing remorse on the faces of those who would rather stand by and weep than bear the cudgels of a congenial defiance of mortality.

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