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Chapter I Page 2

After an instant of silence I said goodbye. With a good-riddance drawl just like your housemother she said, “You are welcome,” which to me sounded like a curse.

About the money I loaned you and you paid back in full with a token interest, let me tell you that was the only money I had transferred out of the country before the Revolution. In my heyday before the great upheaval, golden opportunities were overlooked in this respect because I was also one of those, who thought Iran was a bastion of security in the Middle East. All underlying indications were otherwise, but they didn’t register on me. Even at the peak of the uprising, I didn’t believe the old regime was gasping its last dying breath.

In the squalling storm I held on tight became in no time, like many others, a goner with the wind. I found and lost, same as the case was between you and me.

But you well know I am not a cantankerous loser. I scrambled up the rocks again, quietly, reached a scale not as high as before but near it. I admit, during those early hard years after the Revolution, without that money in your hand I would not have been able to send my son through college.

He is my double now, a full-fledged mechanical engineer working with me. So, a quirk of fate reversed things. I became in debited to you. This was the thought that flashed in my mind in time and stopped me from losing my head with your secretary.

Having been unsuccessful with her, I stood for quite a while by the window of my hotel room watching the immense, manmade skyline of Manhattan. Swift memories of the past came to me. Gradually the morose mood in me changed as I remembered the times we had together.

I recalled once how you and I, after class, went together to the university hospital and had our tonsils painted– the only remedy available at the time for sore throats.

Now with my mind’s eye I saw you in a spacious bedroom, alone, a large glass of water standing by your bedside, surrounded with huge capsules of red, brown, yellow and blue. Your winsome face, pale and weary, devoid of the make-up of the fashion world, grimaced repeatedly for an expected sneeze that sometimes refused to come. A plastic basket full of used tissue paper sat by your bedside on the floor.

Fired up with the knowledge that I could help you, in more ways than the one hundred I loaned you, I felt in me the audacity of Cary Grant in “Notorious”: walking up the curved stairway, elegance overshadowing stealth, to save a doped and dazed Ingrid Bergman from the programmed poisoning of Nazi conspirators in Argentine. The picture ended with him daringly saving Ingrid. We saw that picture together when it first came out. Remember? If I knew the place of your residence I would have walked up, ignoring the sever threats and protestation of your maid.

Your secretary, standing at the top of the stairway, would stare down at me with curled lips as I walked up. I would enter your bedroom and sit by your bedside. Your wan face would turn, brightening slowly with a smile of recognition and soon our hands would hold in perfect strength like old time in the movies.

Seeing you concerned about my catching your cold – which as before I never cared about – I would start telling you, Tammy, about my not having bouts with a cold for more than ten years, not in the usual, accepted sense.

Like most people you wouldn’t believe me at first. I could read your thoughts: how could I have discovered something about the sure-cure of influenza when the medical researchers in this field hadn’t. It is said that in tight spots one becomes an inventor. I have been in many a tight spot with a cold and I hated it. I hated it so much that I preferred to have a bout with tuberculosis once in a lifetime than have a soul-sickening bout with a cold once or twice every year.

For more than ten years, a time stretch that doesn’t leave ground for doubts, I haven’t gone to bed with a cold and then come out debilitated, looking like the Phantom of Opera.

I haven’t lost a single day of work or activity in the last ten years. Even the flu epidemics of the past years with their menacing Asiatic names like Hong Kong flu, Chinese, Burmese, Shanghai, Taiwan, Yamagata and so on, have not been able to de-capacitate me.

I have learned how to combat the virus effectively. I have licked the problem totally and completely. I wouldn’t bat an eye if I hear that this year’s virus is the meanest and it comes from Madagascar or wherever, but for inquiry’s sake, why is it that a cold virus never comes from Europe? Why don’t we ever hear a Cote de’Azure flu or Manchester flu?

The World Health Organization is responsible for explaining this phenomenon, but the East is East and the West is West and on a rare occasion when the two meet, we do get a word like influenza, which is a corruption of the Arabic word “anf-al-anza.” “Anf” in Arabic means nose and “al-anza” means the goat. A coughing, drooling, nose-dripping goat is said to have “anfalanza” – goatnosed – which could apply easily to a human in the same condition. The American Heritage Dictionary specifies the Latin word “influential,” meaning “influence,” as the origin of the word “influenza.” But that doesn’t make sense. Disclaiming erudition, “anfalanza” is more apt to be the origin of the word in my opinion. The goatnosed condition applies more firmly and more believably.

Deeply floundering in the morbidity of a bad cold some people, not consciously knowing the connection, say, “I feel like a sick goat.” Now if the outbreak-source and name of the disease is from the East, so let the cure come from the East also, however unorthodox, as always, it may seem to those who are not from the East.

First things first, Tammy, there must be a total change in attitude toward a cold, in regard to the range of it, whether it is bacterial or viral. The acceptance that there is no such thing as a minor cold, that all colds become major ones – especially the flu version – when you refuse to rest, is a great understanding of the problem. But greater still is the acceptance of the fact that rest, when the early signs of a cold come, is a theory cure and is quite impossible.

You just can not jump headlong into bed and start a two-day’s rest because your throat tickles or you blew your nose twice before breakfast. A normally active person just can not idle himself like that.

All those who go to bed with a cold are those who have reached such a stage of incapacity that they have no choice, or they are exceptional people who can stop the impetus of life in themselves with the ease of one turning off a switch. These people are much less than a minority. On a mass scale, forced rest, as a preventive measure could never be brought about.

Either you have an important appointment that can not be canceled, a job of some kind that must be finished, a deadline that must be met, a report on a project that must be completed…etc. or you will not have much of a life. The inertial force can not easily be stopped.

In the meantime the intruding virus breeds and multiplies. You become weak. Your ears plug from too much nose-blowing, your head pounds, and your eyes water. Gradually the world becomes meaningless to you.

You go to bed finally, sick. All prescribed or recommended medicines for a cold at this stage are palliatives, which make life only easier while the sickness runs its course.

After you get well, excluding the after-effects there is a period of immunity – during which you won’t catch a cold ranging three months in your case, six in mine in the old days and with most people a full year.

My formula rests on the theory that if any kind or version of a cold virus gives you immunity for a certain period after the sickness, why not reduce the initial invading virus to a level of weakness that it becomes a vaccine against itself and all other similar cold viruses to which you may be exposed?

How can this be done? The magic is in combat readiness, and this requires a singular passion to overcome an epidemic to which the world has been accustomed. Accepting its terms year after year, unconditionally. You must develop the old cowboy mentality of the western movies. After a long ride during the day, the cowboy sleeps in the woods by the fire with his head on the saddle and his trigger-finger on his gun. When his horse snorts signaling danger, he jumps, ready for a quick shoot-out.

At the first sign of being stricken with a cold, strike back hard and quick. Don’t take it lying down. Don’t lose precious hours finding out whether the tickle in your throat, the wretched chill or the mildly running nose is going to go away by itself. Experience repeatedly has proven that it will not, but we always tend to think otherwise.

Every year we lull ourselves with a perfidious optimism expecting a miracle cure, that the deceptively mild cold on the onset will let go, but it doesn’t. The virus overwhelms. That is one thing we can be sure of.

As the clock ticks on, an empty bed is there to embrace you when you don’t want its embrace. The demon virus brings depression and a lassitude so grave you may feel at times that you will never get well, will never become whole again. The old confident self becomes remote.

In the old days, citrus juice was an accepted requirement for cold patients because of its vitamin C content. Science has now fully approved the old notion that this worthy vitamin is the one and only combatant known that can lock horns with the mean, circular, face-and-trait changing cold virus.

Thus, as part of your battle readiness, have a bottle of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in tablets of 500-mg strength in your medicine cabinet, but don’t take a daily dose when you are well and healthy.

Taking a daily dose of vitamin C as preventive medicine is like shooting wildly every day into the sky with the hopes that a duck will fall at your feet.

The effect of vitamin C taken orally is not cumulative. The tablets taken on the day or day before exposure to the virus is helpful – not those you took four months ago. Besides, taking vitamin C tablets as part of the daily diet increases your saliva to a point that you have to swallow first before you can talk.

Just have the vitamin c tablets in your medicine cabinet for the D-day, and don’t drink either orange or grapefruit juice daily to a level that keeps you on the verge of diarrhea. Lead a normal life. Don’t get edgy when you come into contact with people who have a cold, and don’t resort to bizarre behavior in order to avoid them.

If the catching of a cold can be useful as a mild vaccination of a cold, why not catch it earlier? The more advanced in autumn or late summer, the least is the after-effect. Therefore, when someone sneezes helplessly in an elevator or subway or any other closed space, don’t flinch grievously in order to shame him.

Even if you lived under a glass bell, the catching of a cold is certain when the season for it comes. Most often you are the carrier of the virus without being affected. The intrusion takes place when your resistance is lowered by either exposure to cold, fatigue, hunger or even anger for a long period of time. Depression also welcomes the catching of a cold. (I will come back to that with more details.)

Now let us say that the virus has invaded and the early signs are there: sneezing, the consistent wet nose and a chill while the thermometer on the wall shows eighty. Move fast. Remember that you are not going to take it from the virus anymore.

You are prepared for a quick counterattack, even if the time is most inconvenient, say, you have guests in the house for the evening, or, you get the cold legs, very cold, and nothing seem to warm them. There is a choke flow of blood to the legs how this comes about I don’t know.

Excuse yourself for a while. Go to the bathroom, and close the door – you don’t want advice or interruption. Drop a 500-mg vitamin C tablet into a drinking glass, and tap it with something blunt, like the butt end of a knife until it is in powder form. You can use powdered vitamin C with the same dosage about 500 mg. Add about two shot glasses of water. Stir. Be prepared for the most unorthodox and excruciating part of the treatment, and remember that anything not done on a mass scale appears odd.

Once upon a time the simple act of an injection with a needle looked odd and excruciatingly but we are all now much accustomed to it.

Pour the VC solution into your cupped hand and draw it up into your nostrils, your nasal passage, and throat, then spit out the excrement. Repeat this procedure three or four times. The solution in the glass should be finished if you have the right concentration. When you do this you will gag, Tammy, with a burning ache that peaks out in twenty seconds after the last draw.

During the takes, you cough, sniffle and snort, and a thick liquid will come down from your nasal passages in mouthfuls, and you will blow your nose and spit it out repeatedly. This gelatin-like goo, dislodged so devastatingly, happens to be the bedding where the virus proliferates. And you will wonder how and where in the small narrow passage so much of it could be stored.

Using the strongest word, your suffering, for this treatment is less than half a minute, nowhere comparable to what you have to bear if you let the cold go into full blooming growth.

Any pain or aches that fades in seconds should be called discomfort. Fear of it diminishes with time and repetition. When it cures it should not be regarded as self-inflicted torture. 20 seconds? Compare it lying down in bed in a hospital, swollen red nose out of blanket covering half of the chin. How long are you going to be there? A week?

With the vitamin C wash, you decimate the virus and destroy its breeding haven. This bold act gives you time for the next move. The virus, too, takes a new position, increases in number, but not with as much force and spirit as before. You have brought havoc into the routine of the virus. Their situation after the VC wash is like the setting of camps on the rubble after an earthquake.

You, however, come out of the bathroom breathing like a giant. Your nasal passages are open, clear, and free. Air flows into your lungs, and comes with such ease that it is as if your nostrils and the passages beyond them have the inner diameter of a four-inch pipe. You become suffused with a state of well-being, though for a while you might look as if you had wept.

Sometimes with this simple inexpensive act, you will succeed in flushing the cold virus out of your system, but most often, especially if it is an autumn cold, you will not. Take a sleeping pill or any kind of sedative that night and go to bed early. You have further treatment coming the next day.


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