"My teeth have been giving me immense trouble of late. I don't know what to do, it's just unbearable," sighed Rishabh, a dear friend of mine since childhood, over telephone. Sitting miles across, I, instead of consoling him, gave him a half-an-hour lecture on his flawed eating and dental habits.
I'll be honest; I just couldn't indentify myself with him and empathise, for I had not experienced toothache, so far. But as the saying goes, it does take very long for all hell to break loose.
A couple of days ago, I found myself tossing and turning all night, tormented with a throbbing and excruciating toothache. My heart went out for my dear friend. The funny thing about the dreaded toothache is that it rarely knocks at your door during the day.
It has a bizarre way of torturing the poor victim. The stinging in the mouth will reach its climax, more often than not, during the wee hours of the morning, when no dentist is available on call. In situations such as these, even God is unavailable on the hotline and all prayers go unanswered.
The next morning, I met my dentist, Dr Anand, a jovial and amiable man, and confided in him: "Dr Sahib, I always thought and considered that perhaps a cardiac arrest and the subsequent heartache would be the epitome of all pains until I faced the wrath of an agonising toothache." He let out a little laugh.
The pain associated with toothache is immense, so much so, it finds mention in William Shakespeare comedy "Much Ado about Nothing": "For there was never yet philosopher, that could endure the toothache patiently."
Celebrated and distinguished English poet Ogden Nash once wrote: "Some tortures are physical, and some are mental, but the one that is both, is dental."
If suffering brought wisdom, the dentist's parlour would be full of luminous ideas; and that's where I had my very own "enlightenment moment". I always considered calculus and algebra as pure torture, for I saw them as my biggest foes, but then the dreaded toothache happened in my life, that too at its stinging best.
Believe you me, whenever I crib looking at my maths textbook, I am reminded of the awful toothache, which sends shudders down my spine. I'd rather integrate or differentiate than fall prey to the cumulative effect of all curses: a toothache.
A lesson I learnt was that even the sweetest thing on earth… can hurt. Dear readers, start brushing, before you fall prey to one.