Notes from a blocked nose

"Are you going to live?" she asked me, in that precise manner that did not give away the tease. It was a drama queen moment I was not going to pass up.

I played along, between elegy and ode, the bedsheet wet with sweat from fever. It was not a phone number I recognised, although the voice sounded familiar. "Boo ish dhish?" I asked through the blocked nose.

"You just disappeared," she said.

For me, she had disappeared. Her country is different, her world is different. Yet, this had to be a friend. Only friends know about disappearances, not appearances.

"Tell me, how are you?"

"I am sick. Feverish, a bad cold, my voice...(I cleared my throat for emphasis)...and a dull ache in my stomach and head..." All this to someone whose identity was yet only 'familiar'.

"Are you going to live?" she asked.

At the time, I did a vocal shrug, drawled "Bay...bee", which was 'maybe', gasped, and of course she told me who she was, and how emails she sent were bouncing back. "I thought you had given up everything and gone to the Himalayas."

And then I thought about the high altitude and breathing and it came back to my nose.

After we hung up, it struck me that a blocked nose does mean one cannot breathe, and breath is life.

So, what happens if one side of the nose is blocked — is it half a life? If both are blocked and we breathe through the mouth, are we living a borrowed life? Sometimes, I wish we could imagine breathing through ears and eyes. Perhaps we do, when there is a tap-tap sound or when we blink.

Does an upturned nose breathe the sky and a hooked nose the soil? Are larger nostrils freer, especially if they are shaped like a tear drop half way down the cheek? Do those tiny round ones drag in air like smoke from the embers of a cigarette?

I am resisting nasal drops because they dry the nose. It feels like barren earth. The thought of a blocked nose that runs is comforting in a strange sort of way. Like morning dew on a bare branch. Like seepage from a rusty tap. Like muddy water in the crack of a boulder.

And, like a wet sheet with fever.

© Farzana Versey


  1. FV,
    Our nostrils are a humble part of us , who let us "smell" the world around us most diligently, day after day , year after year till they go on strike , given unfavourable working conditions (may be a skiing trip for us), i am sure yours have take this "industrial action" pretty seriously .
    You can almost guess my solution , some cognac on the bedside , take the aroma , all noses love them . rets of the body adores them too...
    and oh btw ..Happy new year , keep blogging more of these kinds. In last 6 years , your blogs have left an indelible mark on me..Thanks
    I dont always comment given the high traffic of pro Jihadi and anti jihadi , Pro and anti Modi traffic you so religiously attract :) :)
    Stay blessed ...

  2. MC

    Pro/anti Narendra Modi is incorrect classification. Make that sekulaar and anti-sekulaar.

  3. just take steam bath to clear your nostrils "bay ...bee" you would feel better - I say this from my experience but I doubt you would at all listen - get well soon!

  4. Manish:

    Good to see you after a long time, and greetings and wishes to you for the year ahead...many fine aromas for you.

    I was afraid that this would turn out to be a medical bulletin of sorts, but I needn't have worried.

    And, thank you for the many years here. But you are wrong about what this blog attracts. I continue to follow the hard nut, soft centre approach! Works as well as religion.



    You are seeing visions, much like your hero. Manish did not even mention Modi. Rub your eyes.



    Thanks. You are so right. I just don't listen.

  5. FV

    May I respectfully request you to read the comment you so lovingly replied to. For a moment you did make me feel like a Hindu communalist..! :)

    My hero? Well, do check if your hospital has an opthalmologist. :)

  6. F&F:

    Be nice. I am unwell!

    Okay, I did not notice. Surprised you did not call it selective secularism, whichever way you spell it.

  7. FV

    Poor thing! Get well soon. Haven't you found a sekulaar doctor who has taken the "hypocritical" oath? :)

    The smiley was for the sake of being nice.

    By the way, I just had another vision. Conversion to Hinduism cures all illnesses. Wanna try?

    :) again.