Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Best Gift

This morning, we woke up to my mother’s cry of anguish… what she had long suspected had finally come true- she had been taken ill… she was down with fever. That mortal enemy, influenza-viral, had finally caught on. While she fretted about her health and destiny forced me to do all the household chores single-handedly, I thought about our good fortune- good health.

I can bet… any and every one of us, calls down the fury of God on our foes at least five times a day. If we’re not doing that, then we’re busy cribbing about our not-so-happening life, complaining about our teachers, bitching about people or just cursing life in general. But how many of us really treasure the good moments? Particularly those times when we’re not sneezing our heads off, when we’re not lying in bed battling with a soaring body temperature, when we’re not frequenting the washroom every ten seconds… I can see very few hands raised…

Health is Wealth… these three words have always stuck out in my little head like neon lights… irritating, un- ignorable lights. And yet, I doubt I’m really following all the tenets of this philosophy. And so it is for most of us. Of the thousands of people I know, only a handful of them can claim to be the blessed souls who give their mind and body some time every day.

For the rest of us, the world is just a blur of food, work and sleep. But just as we realize the importance of things and people after we lose them, we realize the importance of good health only when we fall ill. As a wiry pre-teen, I would always tell my mother “Mama, every day seems so special when I’m fine” (I would have to be put on antibiotics almost every alternate week. Alas! Such was my immune system back then). Somehow, those early bouts of illness made me value my healthy days way more… I would squeeze in everything that I could… from school to dance classes, hours of cycling, playing in the mud, going over to my friend’s place, running after pigeons, getting beaten up in street fights (sometimes I would beat people too), troubling my mother in the kitchen or just following my dad everywhere like a lost puppy… so much in a day!

Falling ill made me realize the importance of each day, every single minute. It also made me acutely aware of all the people around me who are not as fortunate. Any form of illness, then be it a minor cold or a life-threatening cancer… it takes away the spring from your step, it makes the blue sky look grey… I thank God every day when I wake up fine… think of all those who woke up to a sore throat, an eye infection, news of a deadly disease or worse… don’t wake up at all.

If there is something that can make you love life with all your heart, it is good health. Give him a body free from illness and a man can do wonders. What worries me the most is the general health of children in India.

 To quote from Wikipedia:

“The World Bank estimates that India is ranked 2nd in the world of the number of children suffering from malnutrition, where 47% of the children exhibit a degree of malnutrition. The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world with dire consequences for mobility, mortality, productivity and economic growth. The UN estimates that 2.1 million Indian children die before reaching the age of 5 every year – four every minute – mostly from preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea, typhoid, malaria, measles and pneumonia. Every day, 1,000 Indian children die because of diarrhoea alone. According to the 1991 census of India, it has around 150 million children, constituting 17.5% of India's population, who are below the age of 6 years.”

India is also ranked 15th in the 2011 Global Hunger Index Report.

It is one thing to willingly neglect our health like most people from the well-off sections of the society do. But to be not given a shot at it… it is inhuman.

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you get three meals every day. So go out, exercise, keep fit and love life so that you can spread a little of that love among others… others who live on crumbs…

Stay healthy. It is the Best Gift that you can gift yourself.

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