Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Heal thyself

No race in the world can beat us at evading personal responsibility.

Floundering businesses, failed relationships, rocky domesticity, social disasters, unfortunate accidents, professional misadventures, follies of the heart and tongue….’kismet’ is always on hand to shoulder the blame. There is one issue though; missing in the list and more often than not, credited to people around instead of fate, for a change.

Have you noticed how ailing Indians seem powerless over their ailments? Of course there is old age, a genuine physiological malfunction and God forbid, even accidents but there is a remarkable disconnect between the sick and the management of their sickness. It is as though, their diseases have to do with everyone else around them other than themselves. Rather than take personal charge of their physical malaise, they will have the entire clan aligned alongside, one way or the other, fretting, fuming and fulminating in their morbid miasma.

In a pan-Indian, national trend, every Indian adult’s health and fitness is someone else’s designated portfolio. A wife is completely answerable for her husband’s physical wellbeing. The daughter-in-law better account for her parents’-in-law state of health. Every soul under the same roof will have the family senior’s health needs marked well within their purview. Indian sons are known to chart their destinies around their mother’s aching joints and daughters have spent endless hours caring for fathers who stubbornly refuse to follow the doctor’s orders.

It is understood and presumed that the diabetic will not himself watch his sugar intake. The asthmatic cannot be expected to watch her tolerance level for the out of doors. Who can blame the rheumatoid for not regularly exercising their joints? Instead, the immediate brood around have to take the blame and carry the guilt for actions or inactions of the suffering. As a matter of fact, in many families, the disease becomes a lifelong presence, cultivated and stoked and at times, even used to manipulate family dynamics.

We will be a healthier, happier and more hopeful nation if we worked on the premise that one’s health is primarily, one’s own personal responsibility. If you have a urinary tract infection, the onus is on you to drink more water, not on your family to keep pushing aqua at you. If you are diabetic, please watch your sugar intake and don’t keep others on tenterhooks over having served a sugary concoction at dinner. If you are obese, stop blaming the wife for not serving enough salad as appetizer so you could stuff your face a shade less with the deadly stuff that you do, as a matter of routine.

Not for a moment am I recommending that we abdicate care of the indisposed at home. But they certainly need to drop the martyr mantle and actively start sharing the major portion of the load. The greatest love we can show our families is to take charge of our own pneumonias, bronchial issues, nasal allergies and fungal growths.

It is time to take the necessary precautions, exercise the required self-discipline and follow the prescribed medical schedules to the T. The great Indian family is always on hand for terrible and terminal sicknesses but how about shouldering some genuine, self-directed and concrete responsibility for getting well! How about emerging from the convenient, comfortable, cosy couch of helplessness with a new resolve to get whole, healthy and healed? 

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