I am a poor unfortunate. I am home in bed with an autumn flu - a lady coughed next to me on the plane all the way from Punta Arenas to Puerto Montt last week and it's all her fault. I started a mild head cold on Wednesday, then languished for days with the sore throat from hell, and just when i decided that it was merely a virus and going away, last night it took a running dive into my chest and did its level best to turn into galloping bronchitis. And this morning, sinusitis as well. Just to cover every possible contingency.
The sneezing is impressive. It echoes. Do you remember the old saw about how if all of the billion people in China jumped from chairs at the very same time, the earth would move?
I know that the mathematics are bunkum, but here in my sudafed-fueled daze I'm starting to wonder - do you think that the mind has a resonant frequency? And do you think that if we found it, and had everyone in the world hum it all at once, we could crack open every narrow mind - drive big wedges into the gaps and sing them open? Make people hear the points of view that they don't let themselves see?
Wouldn't that be nice?
Mr Tabubil calls home every hour to ask me about my temperature , but I don't need to know my temperature. The whole Tabubil family has an allergy to thermometers; when we see one coming, we hide under the bed.
It's my mother's fault. (Isn't that another old saw?) She suffers from an excess of thermometer-related enthusiasm. If one of us Tabubils ever stayed home sick, we'd find ourselves flat on our backs in bed with at least two - and often three- thermometers in our mouths: a digital one, a mercury one to back it up, and a second digital one to average out the other two.
She always forgot about it and left it there. I'd be in bed with a honking great sinus infection, incapable of breathing through my nose, but she'd beg me - on pain of maternal disappointment - not to open my mouth, so I'd lie there in a haze of headache and snuffle while the world went pink around the edges and she implored me to hold it for just another minute - and right about when I was turning blue and starting to make small squeaking noises, she'd say, from the kitchen, where she'd dashed off to, just for a moment, honestly, I swear I'll be right back -
"Oh Dear! How long has it been?" And it had always been ten minutes longer than it should have been, and she'd sigh and shake her head and tap the thermometer and say "It's been a little too long, I think. Just one time, sweetie. Let's do it again."
And she'd pop the three thermometers back into my mouth, with a firm finger on my chin to keep the thermometers - and the howling- in.
Why Mr Tabubil thinks I'm going to use one is beyond me.