I hate to make generalisations but I'm yet to meet a woman whose spouse handles a cold with equanimity. Every time we talk about this on secret online forums where women congregate to rant about things that no bharatiya nari should, we're in agreement that men tend to exaggerate their illnesses. Clearly, we're not the kind of women who appear in cooking oil ads, worried as hell about their husband's high cholesterol.
When my husband falls sick (and by this I mean, when he catches a cold) it's as if the plague is upon us.
When my daughter is ill, she tries to convince me that she's perfectly all right. This is so she can eat junk, go to school or play with her friends. She stays cheerful for the most part though she might get clingy. But when my husband falls sick (and by this I mean, when he catches a cold) it's as if the plague is upon us. These are the different phases of a man's "sickness":
I'm trying to look all right though I'm not
Have you seen those old Sivaji Ganesan movies in which he's trying hard to control his tears despite being on the brink of an emotional tsunami?
That's phase 1. There is a faint tickle in his nose. He can feel his "energy draining". He's a mobile phone losing battery. But he will not tell you what's wrong with him. Maybe because you will compare it with childbirth yet again and dismiss his pain.
I'm taking care of myself though I need an ambulance
In phase 2, the virus has taken charge and is causing havoc. He can't sleep, he can't eat, he certainly can't talk. He has to lie down and take rest because... his nose is blocked. Thankfully, my husband is the self-sufficient sort, so he brews his own Ayurvedic concoctions—ginger, lemon, honey, pepper and I don't know what else.
Maybe I should go to the doctor
I don't remember the last time I went to a doctor for an illness. If I have a cold, I wait for it to run its course. If I have a headache, I take a paracetamol and go about my work. But most men seem to believe that they need the doctor if their cold lasts for more than two days... which it obviously will.
The doctor will tell them exactly what you've been saying all along—there's no cure, drink fluids and wait it out. But somehow, it makes them feel better to hear it from a professional.
This is the phase when they finally confess that they are completely unable to do anything and need help. And the distress appears so real that you actually hold off talking about childbirth.
I'm slowly, slowly recovering
Ah, improvement happens. The black veil that had descended upon the husband is slowly lifting. He can sit up on the couch and watch TV. Food begins to taste good again. He notices the small things that make life great. He is grateful that he has survived this life-threatening cold.
All is well.