Claritin is my new companion in this still-new country that I have been in for the last few years. It becomes Allegra, during my more trying times, but it’s only the name that changes. Anti-histamines remain my best friend, no matter where I am. My need for them changes, but they are always there. Oh, the things that my nose makes me do!
Allergies are almost all of what defines me in Spring definitely, and seemingly partly in Fall too! I’d like to say it is a genetic condition but I can’t claim that confidently, unless there’s some kind of a horizontal gene transfer that transfers the trait from my mother to my father! Or maybe allergies are included in the adage “after ten years of marriage, husband and wife begin to resemble each other”?!
My not-so-pretty and very fat nose (that is one of my never-ending woes) but an apparently indispensable element of my life is the hero of this chapter of my life too. I have always held on to the belief that I fell short of being breathtakingly beaaautiful, just by inheriting the wrong nose! And add to that, the pains this nose brings me, sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be more prudent to just have it chopped off.
My nose happens to be the ultimate thermostat. It picks up the slightest changes in the temperature, and answers it with a response worthy of a world war. As long as I am in an air-conditioned room, I am fine but the moment I step out into the balmy warmth, it revolts. And the reverse is true as well. It doesn’t care how hot and humid, but as soon as I step into an artificially cooled building, it perks up, and I can feel goosebumps spreading all over my body right before it attacks. I figure my nose believes in Newton’s first law a little too diligently, and has it mixed up with the laws of thermodynamics: one should continue in a single state of temperature, warm or cool, and resist all provocations to change your state and adapt.
Now my nose is not all bad, if you are looking at it from the right angle – it’s easy to pick out who the good photographers are this way, but selfies are a strict no-no, especially since my nose is the first thing the camera picks up, and from a hand’s length, my face resembles a reindeer’s. But I cannot never wear a nose-ring, let alone the fancy, heavy, gaudy nose rings that the traditional Indian brides get to wear, and thus, one less piece of jewelry for me if and when I get married. Given the prices of gold nowadays, I am telling myself it’s a good thing – I don’t like nose piercings anyway.
Of course, it’s not just jewelries that cannot hang off my nose, an accidental bump off my nose (happens all the time), a piece of paper (happened) or the flimsiest dupatta (happened) even stroking my nose in the faintest manner can set off an explosion of epic proportions. It’s almost as if the guardian mast cells of my immune system, protecting against the merest intruders, don’t even want the walls of their fortress to be brushed against! And as soon as their super sensory intruder alarm goes off, they go all out offensive like Viking warriors. Yes, I harbor something like a nuclear field within my nose, and the explosions are the very undignified, barely stifled, unglamorous and loud sneezes. Hey, all in the name of protecting thy body, eh?!
Of course, I could always get an allergy test done. Besides the fact that many things that I am not allergic to will come up on the test as well, post examination, psychology says, I will be allergic to those as well!
Dust, pollens, mildew are always the usual culprits, and hence, unless I am always in a protective body suit and breathing from a tank, I don’t think there’s any way that I can steer clear of them. But my greatest concern was the food, and the names of the ones that would turn up in the Never-to-Eat list, and I am not ready to give those up! I am too much of a foodie, to kowtow before my nose and its partners-in-crime, and their idiosyncrasies. After all, one does live to eat.
In more dire moments of helplessness, I have thought of drastic measures like cosmetic surgery. But that plan got nixed as well, when one of my best friends, as thin as me (if not thinner for as long as I had known her), had an emergency surgery on her nose. And post-op, the only side effect she had was that she couldn’t stop putting on weight. Yeah, that’s right- nose surgery and weight gain. It just always knows where it hurts the most! Noses are a vindictive breed. I just knew this was one battle I wasn’t going to win.
However, it is Winter time now, and I am snuggled away, quite up the globe, away from the equator, which means my nose has backed down! Every one may come down with cough and cold and flu, but not me! The cold is my partner, and the sneezes are a thing for another season. Though I wish, it would snow a little more, and the temperature to drop a little more below freezing, and freeze my nose along with everything else!
And then one fine day, even with snow all around, and no visible new buds on the trees, there will be one errant sneeze, out of the blue, after a season-long sabbatical, and I will know my beloved Winter is on its way out, and the wicked Spring was just lurking around the corner. And we’d have come a full circle, my nose and I.