The face of hard reality

I want to ask today’s youth a question: Do pimples still show up (on your face) precisely on the morning of the day that you have a date with your girlfriend/boyfriend? Because back in our times, acnes unfailingly sprouted in the most visible spot of our face, exactly on days that caused us the maximum embarrassment.

In terms of being a source of constant unease to a youngster, it was always a close-run thing between parents and pimples.  And on more than one occasion, many youngsters, standing in front of the mirror, have wondered why don’t they go away —- parents, that is.  Parents may oblige. But pimples won’t.

But here I need to clarify a bit:  Back then, our interactions with the opposite sex qualified as a ‘date’ in the same manner as Katerina Kaif gets to be called an actress —- for want of an alternative description.

In terms of technique, what we called dating could as well have been the formal syllabus of the Salim Ali School of Ornithology:

  1. Patiently stay put in a place.
  2. Hope something turns up on the horizon.
  3. Hope you spot it.
  4. Bore the pants off your friends talking about it.

Okay, I am exaggerating a bit. Ornithology is not so indefinite and random.

Once in college, we boys and girls, on a holiday, planned a movie outing. Full of blithe spirit and naughty ideas, we guys turned up in our Sunday bib-and-tucker. Ditto with the girls. And so the unending exhilaration began:  We saw the film. They saw the film. We chatted amongst ourselves. They chatted amongst themselves. They left the way they came. We left the way we came.  It was our collective day of wild fun and unimagined excitement.  When we guys from college meet, we still talk excitedly and animatedly about that day of daring outing.  I will put it this way; If it comes to the Taliban recruiting any of us, I am afraid they may complain of us being extremely prudish and rabidly conservative.

When I look back, it’s still a bit of surprise as to how some of us (from my generation) actually ended up in ‘love marriages’.  In the situation that existed then, the only way that any kind of romantic exchange could have happened was through evolved photosynthesis.

A lot of us, who had our formative years in the 80s, when asked to define puberty, will say it’s that period in a person’s life when sexual awakening happens. And by sexual awakening we unequivocally mean pimples alone.  One night you went to bed and the next morning you woke up with a pimple on your face.  That was puberty.

There was nothing else to show for our notional coming of age.  (Back in the 80s, quite unlike today, the nation had not attained self-sufficiency in porno stuff.  And so some of us made do with a few ‘dirty’ couplets from Thirukkural or a couple of ‘mischievous’ verses from Kambha Ramayanam. Yeah, we were that desperate. And, not to put too fine a point on it, we were also that stupid. Remember, we were the generation that gave confidence to T Rajendhar to try his hand as a film hero).

Anyway, the thing with zits (unrelated trivia: Since Americans found the spelling of acne difficult they settled for zits) is that there is no real known solution, other than possibly setting them on fire, in the whole wide world.

This is where I am thoroughly fed up with the medical community. I cannot overstate the importance of finding a cure for diseases like AIDS, cancer. I am also not being insensitive here. But look at it this way: Nothing seems more life-killing for a teenager than a hideous pimple screamingly specked on his cheek just on the day he/she is out to impress his ‘love’.  But you can’t blame the scientists. They need a rat with pimples to get their research going in the first place.

You can daub a truck-load of creams or apply buckets and buckets of cleanser all over your face, but the biggest truth about pimples is that they are a reverse Rajnikanth: Eppo pogum, yen pogumnnu yarukkum theriyadhu. Aana adhuva pora nerathula thaana pogum. (Don’t bother translating it in English. Only a moron would attempt to translate a Rajni dialogue. Also, English is inadequate).

But, in another sense, considering the unmitigated fun that modern-day youth otherwise have now, it’s just as well that there is still no cure for acnes. It will be too much for a middle-aged man like me, who lost his youth to a rash of pimples, to bear.  Still, if they manage to come up with some remedy, it better be powerful enough to be retrospectively effective. For, I have a few pictures of my schooldays to upload on the Facebook.