Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Hallucinating lemons

Whenever one of her 13 children got a cold, my grandmother paid a few rupees to a local man to climb up the mango or papaya tree in their Assamese garden, and retrieve the small terracotta jar the family had affixed to the bottom of the beehive. It would be filled to the brim with honey that had slowly oozed out from the bottom of the conical hive. She would then sieve it of wax and other hive debris, uproot some ginger, pick a few lemons, and make a hot honey, lemon and ginger juice to drink.

Many cultures around the world have a similar cold remedy. This recollection was my father's as he attempted to persuade me not to buy a honey and lemon cough syrup from my local pharmacist but to brew my own on the hob.

For I've been slain by fever and flu for the past week. Confined to my bed with barely enough energy to sup the natural linctus and sip at spoonfuls of that marvellous "Jewish penicillin" chicken noodle soup, I've also been having hallucinatory dreams of letters of the alphabet chasing each other in chariots around a racetrack, and calendar time stretching and skewing out of sequence across the sky.

Haven't had any energy to read, but thank God there have been some wonderful films on TV to drift in and out of: North by Northwest, LA Confidential, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Thomas Crown Affair and, tonight, Thunderheart, set in my beloved western South Dakota and concerning issues close to my heart.

I'm feeling much better than I did even two days ago, but it's not been the greatest start to my vacation.

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