National Illness

If statistics are anything to go by, 60% of India’s population perishes due to non-communicable diseases- diseases that cannot be spread from person to person- diabetes, high blood pressure and the like. These illnesses are taken seriously because no one wants to die, and because the WHO says it is a big problem. Then there is that one illness which may or may not kill the afflicted people, but will surely finish off those who’re unfortunate enough to be in close quarters with them, that which our culture forbids us from talking about. I am talking, of course, about snoring.

If there was ever any doubt about Murphy’s Law being untrue, let me tell you that I am living testimony of it. Whenever I travel, I always attract the one passenger who snores the loudest closest to me. This rare misfortune has given me the opportunity, and I daresay a good deal of cynicism, to observe a snorer and classify him/ her into one of many subcategories. Oh yes, they come in many varieties!

The Ones You Cannot Avoid: These folks are usually grandfathers and uncles, and in my case, even aunts. They are the people you’re sure to be put up next to on family vacations. If you’re particularly unlucky, the aunts will lure you in with a bedtime story and the promise of a good night’s sleep, only to shatter those dreams, quite literally, at ungodly hours with what can only be described as a war cry. What’s worse, you’d be branded an uncouth child if ever you tried to share this agony with the rest of your family.

The Unaware Ones: These people you actually feel sorry for. There they are, seated on a berth, chatting up with fellow passengers and sharing their home cooked meal with everyone. By bedtime, they’ve made friends with half the compartment. Come midnight, they reveal their true selves. At first, co-passengers just wonder where the noise is coming from, not wanting to believe that it is the same mild mannered gentleman who is now sounding like the engine of that very train. Slowly, realization dawns, and they spend the night wide awake, cursing their respective fates. By morning, the gentleman simply cannot fathom why no one is so much as looking at him, leave alone talking. He goes home, hoping to have a better encounter the next time, and the next, never stopping to wonder what is causing this paradigm shift in demeanor overnight, and never blaming himself for it either. Bless him.

Those Who Simply Don’t Care: This category is somewhat rare to find, as at some point, everyone feels some remorse about causing inexplicable pain to complete strangers. Like Jack-O’-Lanterns, they shine their light in the darkest and rarest of hours and places. I have, however, had the pleasure of encountering this species only a couple of days ago on a sleeper bus, aiding me in my studies. Here this man was, eating theplas and chatting with people- by now, experience had taught me that this one is a repeat offender. In the middle of the night, he turned into a complete snore monster, the mask of humanity vanishing without a trace. So loud were his snores that even the bus driver could hear them and decided, in a moment of kindness, not to turn off the air conditioning at any point of time in the journey. His hopes of using white noise as a distraction were quickly quashed when said offender started to sound a bit like a large animal in pain. Fellow students in the art of classifying snorers were quick to dismiss him as The Unaware One, just as I had.

At the point where we were all worried that he may be kicking the bucket while we were cursing him, people started making attempts to gently wake him. After half an hour’s efforts failed miserably, one man who couldn’t resist anymore shook him rather violently and told the groggy man that he had been snoring rather uncomfortably, and asked if he needed anything. What the culprit did next will haunt me for the rest of my life. He woke up ever so slightly, looked around at all the people who were now genuinely concerned for him and simply said, “I’m fine.” Having thus satisfied his audience, he turned to the other side, fell asleep and promptly started snoring, all in under five minutes.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.