I just got A.J.Cronin’s “The Citadel” at Nova, the second-hand book store by the riverside. They were having a half price Christmas sale and I paid 25c for it. I had read it before but felt the need to have it in my collection. Besides, the kid who lives in my house is just done with his terminal exams and I am hoping he will develop the habit of reading like his dad. I thought he might like ta start with The Citadel.
The Citadel is about the glaring injustices in the medical profession of 1930s’ Wales and one doctor’s battles with his conscience. There’s a lot of heart in it.
Getting back to the kid, like I said his terminals just got over and I went to John Abbott to pick him up from the exam hall. He looked morose, the way a soldier must feel on the day after he’s back from the war – suddenly nothing, no activity, no adrenaline, no stress, nothing.
In fact, studies have found that most Post Traumatic Stress in the developed world is brought on, not by the horrific wartime experience but by the sudden inactivity in the aftermath, when memories flood in, crippling the mind. The opposite happens in the developing world, example – Vietnam. More than 4 million Vietnamese were injured, tortured, raped, brutalized, subjected to chemical attacks, killed and maimed and yet, do you hear of PTSD in Vietnam? You don’t. They have accepted, picked up and moved on. In the US, PTSD is huge and vets are like walking time bombs.
I digress. So, as the kid and I were driving off I saw students walking around the campus, like dazed wreaths coming to terms with the sudden freedom from assignments, tests and homework.
“What’s the plan for the evening, Tiger? Movie? Sleepover at Andrew’s? A long spell on the PS4?” I asked him gaily. I looked more excited than he did.
“I dunno, let me think about it,” he said, ” Anyway, I still have to go give tuition tanight. Cameron’s term doesn’t end until the twennieth.” Cameron is a high school senior the kid is giving tuition in math, history and physics to.
I am glad the kid has a transition planned between high stress and inactivity – tuition. What can be more noble?
And that’s very important – a transition. In metallurgy we learn that a metal that is being heat treated is never suddenly cooled, but tempered – a process where the cooling is drawn out, by allowing the metal to remain in the furnace and cool gradually along with the furnace after it has been switched off. Tempering enhances tensile and fatigue strength.
The kid has unwittingly installed that tempering process in him ta settle down into the holidays.
Transition is good. I am seeing a transition in myself – in my reading, video watching and net surfing habits. I am seeing myself moving away from sex and the female anatomy. Albeit, it is very gradual but it is happening – a change is coming over me. I don’t visit pornhub.com every night anymore. Terms like ‘cleavage’ and ‘buttocks’ are no longer pinned to my mind’s Start Menu.
It’s just as well. The new year is rolling in and this time I want to be a different person – exuberant, refreshing, enlightened, optimistic, kindly and understanding. I am already working on a light, monalisa-esque mridu smile that I’ll be smiling often, January 01 onward. I want ta read Jane Austen, the Bronté sisters, A.J.Cronin and Hiraki Kurashumi. I want ta listen to The Carpenters, Carole King and Bread.
By January 01, I want ta be a flaming pain in the ass.
- “Mridu” is Bengali for gentle, as in smile.
- There is nobody by the name of Hiraki Kurashumi. I made it up because Japanese authors are cool right now.