Mard Ko Dard Hota Hai: What Happens to the Macho Man When He Catches a Cold?

Humour

Mard Ko Dard Hota Hai: What Happens to the Macho Man When He Catches a Cold?

Illustration: Akshita Monga

M

en and women are not equals. Since time immemorial, men have been warriors, hunters, and planners; they also made sure women got to do none of these. Until very recently, if you were born without the right set of chromosomes, you were denied education, property rights, voting rights, holding public office, fair wages, and marital, parental, and religious rights, all of which the opposite sex got on a platter.

Even today, in the midst of third-wave feminism, it’s much easier being a man in this man’s world… that is, until you fall sick.

A man falling sick follows the same pattern as Cinderella’s transformation when the clock struck 12. He turns from a golden, imperious-looking carriage into a pumpkin. One minute he has wings and an expensive laptop bag hanging from his shoulders, swerving through traffic like Schumacher, and the next minute he is lying helplessly on the bed with his tongue hanging out. His eyes, which always reminded you of high-beam headlights, now look like streets in Gurgaon after sunset – pitch dark and emptied of all joy. The deep baritone that was born to bark out orders is now a faint squeak of a newborn puppy. He’s suffering from “man flu”, defined by urban dictionary as an illness which affects men more adversely than it does women.

Men fall into two distinct camps once they are afflicted by the dreaded “man-flu.” If he’s the type that crashes limply like a deflated balloon, he will look at you with sad puppy eyes until you puff up his pillows, get him a huge bowl of chicken soup, dim the lights, and give him a belly rub or shoulder massage until he starts cooing with contentment. If you’re stuck with the other kind of man, the type that pretends to be invincible, who braves aches and pains with a stiff upper lip in the hope that the sickness will heal itself, you are mostly likely to die of exasperation. Both kinds of man flu patients are equally capable of driving their women up the wall.

A man falling sick follows the same pattern as Cinderella’s transformation when the clock struck 12.

Women on the other hand lack creativity and follow the same predictable pattern when they manage to get the same symptoms as him. Since someone got the bright idea of putting her on a pedestal and calling her “superwoman,” she pretends everything’s okay. And so does the man. Surprise surprise! He prefers looking skywards while she props up her pillows, orders in chicken soup and smiles bravely. She pops in the meds and tells herself minutes later, “Hey, I feel so much better.” Yes, her head still head hurts, she feels dizzy, but she still manages to hum, “She’s a jolly good fellow,” to herself. It reaches a point where she starts wondering, “Uske symptoms mere symptoms se zyada tezz kaise?”

Is it true? Do men really suffer harsher symptoms when enduring the same illness as women? Studies haven’t been able to conclusively prove that, but there is a lot of data which points to the same. There was a bunch of scientists who set out on a mission to restore men’s reputation to its lost glory. They caught hold of male mice, did a series of tests and concluded that the male mice who were exposed to bacteria causing a flu-like illness not only seemed sicker than females, but also took longer to get over it. Also, they had more fluctuation in body temperature and inflammation.  

Women on the other hand don’t have the luxury to raise their hands in despair when they fall sick. A report in The Atlantic states, “Women are more likely to be treated less aggressively in their initial encounters with the health-care system until they ‘prove’ that they are as sick as male patients.” They drag themselves to the finishing line, come rain, come shine. They will tell themselves to recover faster, and even manage to outlive their men. Blame oestrogen that defends women against a range of diseases, and give two tight slaps to testosterone for making men more susceptible to the risk of several fatal conditions.

There was a bunch of scientists who set out on a mission to restore men’s reputation to its lost glory.

So there, it’s decided — women are not only not equal to men, they are in fact the stronger sex. Not only do we go through the most painful experience known to humankind to push you out of our birth canals, we also turn into Mother Dairy to nurture you. Meanwhile, big tough men are laid low by some sniffles.

Dear men, do we assume you are immunologically inferior, or will you finally admit you are just using your sickness as an excuse to get pampered or mothered! The nation wants to know.

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