Incurable poll fever
I HAD A MYSTERIOUS ailment a few weeks ago: long bouts of shallow breathing and a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. All my attempts to fix an appointment with the family doctor were in vain. I was wheezing so much, his receptionist, Philomena, assumed I was a filthy obscene caller and she'd hang up on me after delivering unparliamentary epithets in a shrill voice. I gave up in despair. However, when I read about the swine flu outbreak, I panicked and rushed to the doctor's clinic without an appointment. After a long wait, I was finally summoned.
Me: (Hysterical) Doctor, I think I have swine flu!
Doctor: (Shrinking away from me and hastily slipping on a mask) Have you been to Mexico recently?
I virtuously showed my doctor the finger. Oddly enough, in Mumbai the black spot was applied on the rude finger. So appropriate, isn't it? I have an overpowering urge to hug the delightfully wicked person in the Election Commission who came up with this idea!
Me: Nope, I stayed in Mumbai to vote. I'm a good citizen, I am.
Doctor: (Nodding solemnly while showing me his rude finger, too) Hmm... Any politicians living in your building?
Me: What's that got to do with swine flu?
Doctor: (Chuckling) Nothing, just a theory. Now, briefly outline the symptoms.
Me: Well, I get these anxiety attacks and start wheezing uncontrollably.
Doctor: When do these attacks strike more frequently? Mornings? Evenings? Or, when you're watching news channels?
Me: (Stunned by the doctor's brilliance) My God, yes! They always happen when I'm watching the news!
Doctor: (Shaking his head sadly) You have no idea how many people I've been treating for this poll fever. Some suffer from pounding headaches after listening to politicians' bare-faced lies, some fly into violent rage at the helplessness of it all, others get vomiting fits when they realise how promiscuous all our politicians are, willing to sleep with sworn enemies, too, if it helps them get to power. My dear girl, our politicians make red-light workers look pure.
Me: (After a prolonged bout of shallow breathing into a paper bag) Any cure?
Doctor: (With a broad smile) Only if you follow my instructions carefully: Stop watching news channels and reading the papers till the election results are declared. If the symptoms persist, you may be down with something more serious - we call that Karatitis in the medical fraternity. Small joke. Ha! Ha!
Me: (Appalled) It's not a joke, Doctor! If that man's dreadful plan for a Third Front works out, it will be a national disaster! Suppose, just suppose, Mayawati becomes the prime minister? Are you still going to be laughing then?
Doctor: (Wheezing into his own paper bag now.)
Me: And, how about that Yadav fourth front, huh? Would you enjoy it if that slithering Amar Singh has the power to ruin the country?
Doctor: (Wheezing harder and fumbling in his pocket for his anti-depressants. He offers me a couple, too, which I gratefully accept.)
After the anti-depressants kicked in, we both had happy, loopy smiles on our faces and resumed the conversation.
Me: Seriously Doctor, what if those horrors win? Any cure for that?
Doctor: (Hastily picking up the phone) Philomena, cancel all my appointments for the next six months and book me and my entire family on the first flight to England.
Me: What? You're going to run away?
Doctor: (Placating) Just a brief holiday, m'dear. I prescribe the same for you. Leave the country for a few months but do return to vote when they crumble. And, crumble they will. They've already started fighting with their own party members - circulating nude photographs of candidates and threatening to commit suicide if they lose, among other ridiculous things. Can the mentally unstable give us a stable government?
Both of us started giggling helplessly. We laughed so hard, tears sprang up in our eyes. I have no idea if I'll be laughing or wheezing after the results are out, though. And, I'm grateful that the doctor gave me a six-month prescription for anti-depressants and sleeping tablets. But you know what, I'm fervently hoping that the BJP's wannabe prime minister, LK Advani, will need them more than I do!