Being an Indian, is like being a kichdi.Where have we ever introduced ourselves as , well, just “Indian”. We are always Mr./Mrs.(Ms) So –and –so, coming from this state, that town, believing in so-and-so religion ,having been brought up according to so – and – so cultural traditions..etc..etc..We can never be easily defined. So, Mr./Mrs.(Ms) So- and- so is essentially more or less a kichdi.
It is a well known fact that the religion, culture , environment and other various systems help create the person that a child grows up to be. Now, when a normal person itself is a complex equational balance between these various variable elements, it is only natural if you wrinkle up your nose to think of the extras that come into being for someone not so normal and the twists in the kichdi that make them up .Lets, take the example of one such rogue, extra factor- the case of the faulty pancreas. Oh, yes, we ,type 1 diabetics do share that one extra rogue factor thanks to our “live or die” relationship with insulin.
Even this one shared phenomenon is not enough to stop kichdifying us similarly and sadly ,we are yet to see whether we really will only be one step away from the’ normal’ kichdis. The reason for such diversity even after having the same rogue element in our kichdi forming equation is due to the variability of the factor of the environment and circumstances that we grow and live up in.There are many further complexities added by other variable elements like culture, religion,upbringing,etc but generally these factors are idiosyncratic and difficult to group, rank or assess.Now, Environment.. that is a unity creating variable. Usually, it is observed that type 1s who have been thriving in a particular environment, tend to generally have similarities in their kichidity.
Here, where I have been surviving with all my individual variable elements, I have been forced many a times to acknowledge , with a heavy heart, certain environmental phenomenons that trigger sadness, shame, pain, loneliness, alienation, embarrassment and all such other members of the making one feel- “WHY ME!?” situation. I also observed that these factors vary in type and variety from one place to another. What provokes others to make you the butt of jokes in one place-the fact that your pancreas is on permanent vacation,-would provoke others to make you feel you are a burden and a failure in another.
For example,where in some places publicly declaring that you are a type 1 diabetic would entail you to a couple of vacant stares, a few oohs and aahhs or sometimes, if you are lucky enough, a raised eyebrow or two, there are other places where such declarations are considered, wild, gutsy ,and foolish and can lead to people running away from you in fear of contagion,contempt ladled out generously while looking down noses,and opening up the much feared dam of innumerable,unknown remedies,cures and numbers of holy men and women who claim to have cured everything that ails anybody.So, this gutsy declaration comes with a warning: - to be performed only by those equally brave in heart and head. Both the above given environments can be considered way more favourable than others where even in this 21st century, the few such brave declarations are successfully snuffed out by fears of becoming the local pariah/clown/lunatic ( the declarer can opt for any one or more of these choices by deciding on the how, where and when of his/her declaration). The declarer risks losing face, losing hope, losing jobs, losing their loved one’s love and ends up ,at times, choosing to lose one’s own life as well. What else can these lone, tortured ,souls do?
Their environment doesn’t know any better than to treat them any better. And even if they do, such sudden diversions from the norm are frowned upon and difficult to pass through the thick barriers of ignorance, superstitions, false beliefs, prejudices and the “not my problem” attitude. One is then forced to hide being a type 1 diabetic and be in constant denial along with the society if they know what’s good for them. In such an environment, many a type 1 is born to thrive unknown and waste their potential on such desert air.
On that note, I wonder if there ever is a perfectly accepting, conducive environment for us type 1s to flourish in? All environments, around the world seem to be placed on various levels on a gradient scale starting with pitch black and climbing up through various shades of gray to ultimate pure white where white marks the perfectly conducive environment and black is the worst kind of environment for a type 1 to ever live in.Those of you living in an environment higher up on the scale, take a moment to count your blessings and a thank your lucky stars that you weren’t born somewhere marked lower on the scale.
So, next time, we meet a fellow type 1, we remember that we all are kichdis manufactured by different variables in our life and the fact that we all are type 1 diabetics might maybe be the only common thing that we share. So, lets all climb up the scale towards the pure white conducive environment and remember that we owe it to those who live in environments placed below us. Lets all remember to
“ not go gentle into that good night,
………….Rage, rage against the dying of light.”
We could all rage and rage and may still never manage to eliminate the gradient scale completely, but we can surely break off that black tip off of it and wonder with ever increasing conviction about how great it would be if saying that you are a type 1 diabetic never ever made you feel- WHY ME!?- in any way!!! Brrr….i shudder the thought.
- Indu Thampy