Love in the time of flu


I keep hearing pigs calling. Alarm bells ring loudly in my brain. In the distance, I hear a sneeze. A million little pink pigs fly out of my nostrils at lightning speed, fluttering their dainty little fairy like wings, laughing. I wake up with a start, look around me, and breathe a sigh of relief.

I’ve been getting these weird dreams every time I take a nap. Is there something wrong? Is it a premonition? Why do all my dreams have pigs in them? Perhaps I’ve been gorging on too much of bacon and pork chops… No…

I look around me. Nothing but a deep blue sea and white cotton candy shaped clouds. And in the distance, Cancun. White sandy beaches and surfing and sailing in the day, a sin city at night. Oh I love the Riviera Maya. Sometimes I think it’s better than the French or the Italian Riviera.

I’m sprawled on the sun deck, gently bobbing on the water. I raise myself on one elbow and breathe deeply of the balmy sea air. Something is burning. Something is not right. I look down and my tanned body resembles a well done sausage. I scamper into the cool of the lounge. Need a higher SPF. Damn!

Girlfriend stops catching up with Vogue, casts her soft eyes in my direction. “Oh you poor thing”, she says. She brings out a bottle of a soothing balm and begins applying it. I drift off into lulu land again.

A pink pig with a pretty red bow starts tap dancing. Then another one appears. And then another one. And soon there’s a chorus line of pink pigs in pretty red bows tap dancing. And one comes closer to me and then bends forward and kisses me. In the distance, I hear a sneeze. And a million little pigs with pretty red bows come in front of my face and sneeze on me.

I awake, flailing my arms, screaming, “The pigs, the pigs again!” Girlfriend’s balm lotion goes flying from her hands. She gives me an understanding look. “The same dream again? Surely it’s a sign”, she purrs into my ear. These Spanish are a superstitious lot. I don’t like this dream. My valet who’s been observing the goings on with some concern steps from the shadows.

“Something to eat perhaps, a soup maybe, sir?” he chirps in. ‘Paella’ says the girlfriend. I’ve eaten too much of paella in the recent past, but I don’t grumble, got to keep her happy too. “And smoked salmon and some cheese crackers and some champagne too” I mutter. “And get me the papers, been blank to world for a week now…” I conclude.

“Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! The connection! I get it! Look at this… The dreams! Pigs! ”

The girlfriend asks me to stop jumping up and down, casts her gaze to the paper. “Swine flu” she reads aloud. And then she looks at the toll and gasps. “We’re in the centre of the global pandemic”. And then her face becomes an ashen grey.

And all the parties we’ve attended and all the packed night clubs we’ve been too and all the rides to the ruins of the great Maya temples come flashing back. Was I the only one having fun while the rest of the world was fleeing? And paranoia sets in.  “Do we have the flu too?” a weakened girlfriend asks.

Alarm bells ring aloud in my brain again. This time it’s followed by a wave of terror. I can see a pig laughing in the distance. A boat from the port authorities pulls up, a man in a mask comes aboard. He takes readings from a thermometer. He takes throat swabs. Another man in a mask makes an appearance, analyses the data. They talk grimly to each other, tell us all is ok, and leave.

Can I trust lowly paid port authority doctors? Should I trust lowly paid port authority doctors?

“Start the engines…” I roar to the valet who passes the message on to the captain. “Everybody to wear face masks at all times from now on”, I thunder again.  I feel a fever come on. I reach out and touch the girlfriend’s forehead. It seems warm. I have to get out of this place quick. I think I have all the symptoms of the flu.

My valet has been instructed to take my temperature every half an hour and record it in a log book. The helicopter pilot is on standby for a medical evacuation. The captain has been instructed to maintain full speed. The chef has been instructed to prepare hot broths and herbal drinks to sooth and rejuvenate my system. And the girlfriend is looking beautiful.

A stiff breeze blows her hair in the wind, the sun is low on the horizon, and it’s a sharp evening. As Cancun disappears from the horizon, my spirits lift up and the flying pigs seem a distant dream. I sigh. She really is looking gorgeous in the fading light. I lean across to her.

And now I kiss my girl with a face mask on. Damn you, you swine!

The flu shouldn’t come in the way of love, right?

India Boating,  May 09 Issue

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