ON BEING ILL

Outline: Introduction – the importance of the sick man — he can lie in any posture in his bed – he is supremely selfish – his fall during convalescence.

To be sick is to enjoy royal privileges. Normally, you may not be an important person in your house. But when you are ill you are the hero of the house, the centre of attention. The entire life in the household is adjusted to your needs. There is absolute silence in the house: nobody talks loudly or moves about with a heavy tread. While none is permitted to intrude into your palace—the sick room—you are served quietly—with enquiry by looks and mute attendance.

The sick man has the freedom to sit or lie in any posture he likes in his bed. He changes sides often than a politician. Now he lies full-length, then half-length, obliquely, head-and feet quite across the bed. He tumbles, tosses, shifts, and thumps his pillow, making it serve the ever-varying need to his throbbing temples. His bed presents a wavy, furrowed surface.

The sick man is supremely selfish. He thinks of nothing but how to get well. To the world's business he is dead. He understands not what the callings and occupations of mortals are; only he has a dim awareness of some such thing when the doctor makes his daily call, and even then he tends to think that he is the only patient in the world to cure whom the medical profession was created. Household rumours touch him not. Some faint murmur, indicative of life going on within the house, soothes him, while he knows not distinctly what it is. Can any other man betray such absolute self-centredness and get away with it? -

When he starts getting a little better he loses much of his importance. From the bed of sickness to the chair of convalescence there is a fall from dignity almost amounting to a demotion. His sick room, from which he ruled the household, is now reduced to a common bed-room. The trimness of the very bed has something petty and unmeaning about it. All that made sickness pompous has vanished—the spell that hushed the house, the desert-like stillness, the enquiry by looks, and the mute attendance all gone.


Difficult Words: Tread - foot-step. mute -silent. posture - position of the body. obliquely - slantingly, temples - sides of the head. convalescence-gradual recovery from illness, deposition-dethronement, trimness - neatness. hushed - silenced.

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