The coast is supposed to be healthy – none of the smoggy air of Bangalore that lines most softie-lungs now. BUT IT ENDS THERE.
NITK was recently plagued by a conjuctivitis epidemic. I don’t know how exactly started, but we all came back after the Diwali hols looking our healthiest, and Nam was nursing red eyes. We thought it’d just pass, but nope! Next was a red-eyed Ro, and then Prat, then most unexpectedly Ivy. Loads of eye-drops later, just when we thought we’d seen the last of the inflamed conjuctivae, we were proved very, very wrong.
The main lobby looked like MIB had planned a mass memory-erase operation [hmm.. maybe the lime-green Main Building had achieved its aim by finally attracting extra-terrestrial attention] and junta were wearing their darkest shades to save their mugging efforts from going waste. And after that, conjuctivitis found its way back to GB [that’s Girls Block] through vJ who passed it to Bond’s roomie. All us wing-mates went paranoid at that, washing our faces with Dettol each time we came out of Bond’s room. Why, even our conversation-opener question changed from “Wussap?” to “Are my eyes red?”.
Ah, so much for the background. Sometime between the mass-memory-erase operation and the paranoia, I was gossiping in the mess with – um – let me call her JuG, short for Junior Gossiper, which isn’t to suggest she’s in any way junior when it comes to gossip.
Me: “…………. So, everyone in Madras has Madras-eye* now?”
JuG: Which world are you in? They all have Chenn-eye now.
Me: Amma thaaye….
JuG: Ha, well, the latest there is chikungunya.
— Gasps from the rest of the table —
JuG: Every house has atleast one case.
Me: [mortified] What happens with Chikungunya? What are the symptoms?
JuG: Joint pain, fever… – And your nails bleed. You can’t do a thing.
At this, the whole table, I suppose, was having visions of not being able to use the newly improved bandwidth just ‘coz our fingers bled on the keyboard.
Now, this woman – let me call her Tee – cut in.
Tee: Chikungunya, oh, that guy in Mech2, [arbitGuy’sName] has it. He got it from Chitradurga.
Er…. is that the same tone as “He got his laptop from the Gulf”?
Me: Is he being quarantined? I sure hope he is..
Tee: Dunno.. He’s still coming to class.
That did it. The Latesht shifted from RedEyeReduction to Chikungunya. Next day:
Me: Hey, know what, some junior mechie got chikungunya!
Me: Chillesh.. no chance of us getting it. You need the African mosquito to bite him, then bite you…
Classmate: Er… isn’t the class right next to ours Mech SecondYear? I’m wearing Odomos to class now on.
Me: Class? Forget it. It’s bunkyard for me now on.
And I kept my word. Later:
Bond: Hey, while you’re at DC, get me Odomos. And GoodKnight.
Me and Roomie: Why both?
Bond: Chikungunya… haven’t you guys heard?
Next thing you know, there’s an increase in total sales of anything that has graphics of a mosquito being subjected to torture.
Next at the mess, we see Tee and her friend Vee discussing their highly interesting lives at the top of their voices. Me and Classmate are in full-sleeves, and jeans. I have a second reason for the denim – Once bitten.. **
Vee: Yaake fullSleeves?
Tee: Chikungunya’s on campus note the next word Apparently.
Vee: Uh huh??
Tee: Yeah, some mechie has it. I heard some seniors discussing.
At this, I choked and sputtered on the dal [ A stray coriander sprig or whatever it really was] and thus was prevented from yelling out my indignation as I coughed and watched Tee getting away.
— Yells of “BackStaaaaab!” —-
At the next table, JuJu [short for Jumpy junior] is enlightening the rest of the table with a highly animated description of the symptoms of chikungunya. Me and Classmate shrug and get back to speculating who’s gonna be the next conjuctivict.
Boy are we jobless.
*Madras-eye: another name for conjuctivitis
** Once bitten, twice shy: A reference to an incident that happened last year this time, where I got bitten by a mutt, and wasn’t ravaged too badly thanks to my jeans.