A Sting Operation
A recording of the scene is still available on Youtube. President Barack Obama is in the White House, giving a serious interview on live television. A fly enters and hovers around the President, much to his annoyance. He gets distracted, tries to chase it away with his hands. The fly settles down on his knee and the President, as it befits the Supreme Commander of the armed forces of a Super Power, kills the fly with a sudden swift blow and throws the carcass on to the white carpet. The interviewer stares first at the President and then at the the fly reeling in pain in its last moments. The President resumes the interview as though nothing has happened.
My experience, though similar to Obama's, ended differently. First of all, it was not a fly, but a wasp that came into the studio as I was recording my weekly programme. I had the possibility of stopping the recording and dealing with the wasp, but I did not want to interrupt the lively conversation with my guest. When the wasp settled down on my right hand, I should have killed it with my left hand. But not being trained even in Kerala's martial arts, I decided to follow the principle of coexistence. But the wasp had not heard of such principles and did what comes naturally to him, or maybe her, a sharp sting that sent shivers into my spine. The producer must have noticed the grimace on my face, but he realised that I had no intention to ask for a cut. I proceeded to ask the next question and the next till I finished the programme. I am sure, my viewers noticed the change in my demeanor, but thought that the subject was too serious to permit a pleasant face.
The sting, I found, is in the tail as I watched my hand growing in dimension as hours passed. Remedies were suggested by everyone who saw my hand or an image on facebook posted by me to alert the world about the hazards of broadcasters. These ranged from taking an ant-histamine tablet (which is what I did on my way back from the studio) to going to a doctor immediately for an injection.. Home remedies like rubbing shallot juice, warm salt water, turmeric paste and lime juice were suggested.The most amusing advice was that I should see a doctor if swelling lasted for more than four hours, reflecting a commercial about a tablet meant for a different purpose.
Theories too were in abundance. Someone suggested that the wasp was sent by someone who had an argument with me on an election campaign recently. Another had no doubt that it was a diplomatic sting, a tit for tat for the diplomatic stings I may have inflicted on others. (He mentioned Fiji specifically) Yet another thought that my views on endosulfan may have provoked the wasp. But actually my view that the poisonous insecticide should be banned should be helpful to insects.The best description of the action of the wasp was that it was a sting operation. A touching comment was simply 'sad'. Someone even claimed responsibility for the sting and threatened to do it again, if I did not improve!
Someone recalled the scene in Kalidasa's 'Shakuntala', in which King Dushyant enters in the pretext of saving a damsel in distress, being chased by a bee. Struck by the infinite beauty of Shakuntala, he was waiting in the wings to get close to her. We know the consequences of the bee episode in the play.
All is well that ends well. I did not appear cruel to animals on the screen.The avil tablet and some shallot juice healed me and I can now play golf and even manage a Bharatanatyam mudra with my right hand.
The New Indian Express May 6,2011