The secret excuse of falling sick

During his entire school days and academic years at the university, Bhusan had never heard of such a thing – the secret to avoid school or colleges and stay home anytime he wanted, away from everybody and rest of the world!

At the party that evening, they were telling a firend stories of their childhood. One of the stories Bhusan took particular interest, was the daring escapades of his friends who knew ‘the secret to self induce a fever’ and avoid going to school with the excuse of falling sick.

The trick, they told him, was that one has to simply place a crushed onion under the armpits to get a high fever of above 100.4 degrees celsius! He could not understand how it worked, or how one actually falls sick from fever by keeping a crushed onion under anyone’s armpits. But he became all the more fascinated by the idea and at the same time, felt unhappy because he had not known about the trick before. During his entire school days and academic years at the university, Bhusan had never heard of such a thing – the secret to avoid school or colleges and stay home anytime he wanted, away from everybody and rest of the world!

“Really?” he asked showing great curiosity and excitement.”When do I need to put it under my armpits? Does it work with anyone regardless of age?”

“You have to put it at bedtime,” replied Dilip, who introduced the story of onions at the party that night, “In the next morning, your body will shake as if you are in your deathbed,” he added.

“It will work with you even now, if you want to try,” added Bhagat, who they found out, was a veteran of keeping onions under the armpits; he had more experience with the art than anyone else. He had done it countless times. “It works every time,” said Bhagat with pride and smug satisfaction.

“How come I have never heard of this?” Bhusan exclaimed with absolute wonder and utter disappointment.

“Bhai, you’ve been hanging out with the wrong people all your life,” calmly replied Brojen, who had his fair share of keeping onions under armpits. Clearly, they all have done it except for him.

“I got to try it!” said Bhusan.

Bhusan then recalled hating oja Naba’s math class, how he was bullied even in his college days; and his paper reading assignments at the University was all but a complete disaster. He wanted to hide away from these dreaded places and people all his life. However, he never had the courage to bunk classes and one thing he absolutely hated doing was faking something, for example, a stomach-ache which is something he never succeeded in pretending during his school days. He was an absolute failure when it comes to acting.

”But why would I need to fall sick for? I think it’s ridiculous and stupid to do such a thing now,” he remarked after considering the fact that he, actually had nobody to hide away from in his present, dull and boring life. He had left academics years ago, was unemployed, and had very little friends now; he rarely went out for any occasion.        

Dilip encouraged him and said, “Bhai, do it just for fun!” They really wanted to make him join in their onion fetish and welcome him as a new member of the team.

“Wait, what if I never get better?” he inquired giving a sincere look.  

“Don’t worry bhai, you let us know earlier before you try it out and we will come at your home the next morning to find out if you are already dead or still alive.” They all laughed together. 

When the party was over, Bhusan told his friends that he actually wanted to try out the trick for himself and went home determined to learn the secret.

Next morning, his friends arrived at his home to hear about his experience. Bhusan’s mother who was sitting at the courtyard said, “Your friend has not gotten out of bed at all this morning. He is unwell.”

“Is he suffering from fever?” questioned Bhagat.

 “Yes. You see, he was asking about onions last night. I only told him about the news that they are now selling onions at 120 rupees a kilo these days across the country. He suddenly felt unwell on hearing about the price hike and went straight to bed. I think it really upset him and made him fall sick. But who wouldn’t on hearing such terrible news?”

Bhusan’s mother was right. On hearing the news, his friends quickly left without seeing him.

First Published:May 21, 2020, 5:57 p.m.

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