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Friday, May 14, 2010

BURN- What does 'burn' mean to you?




The word ‘burn’ conjures diverse vivid images in the human brain. As a child the word ‘burn’ reminded me of the fires I had seen and the hours I had spent trying to ‘burn’ small bits of paper with a magnifying glass waiting for a whiff of smoke to appear. As a school boy ‘burn’ meant ‘campfires’- collecting twigs and branches of wood and setting them afire, spending the night in the woods with friends


sweet memories that elevate your mood in the worst of depressions…



In school ‘burn’ meant ‘burning the midnight oil’ in the hope of improving our grades. For a teenager, ‘burn’ means to burn a movie, song or CD.



College and youth were all about a ‘burning’ desire to meet the one who would be your soul mate.….

As their eyes met, her heart fluttered, love seemed so intense that it would ‘burn’ a hole in her heart’

For those who wrote poetic love notes ‘burn’ meant ‘Robert Burns’ the famous Scottish poet who was known to be an icon of romance in his times.

Thou art sweet
As the smile when fond lovers meet
And soft as their parting tear
Robert Burns

The work place brings in a new form of ‘burn’ to our minds. Meetings, board rooms and conferences, not to forget the ‘pesky boss’ who will give you a ‘heartburn’ and tons of antacids won’t reduce this burn. As one gets married and the kids come, the word ‘burn’ takes a new meaning- picnics and weekends… ‘burning’ the coals- barbequing on the beaches. In Nevada's Black Rock Desert, thousands of people gather once a year to create a City that is dedicated to community, art and free self-expression- ‘the burning man’

All ‘free’ expressions must be ‘bound’ within the norms of society, for if we cross the limits, we face the risk of becoming ‘antisocial’ and the very purpose for which it was created will be defeated.

For men of sport ‘burn out’ at an early age is something that they would like to avoid. For those who love music ‘burn’ reminds them of Usher’s rap

Let it burn
Let it burn
Gotta let it burn

 
For movie buffs ‘burn’ is the 1969 Italian film ‘Burn’ (Queimada) starring Marlon Brando and directed by Gillo Pontecorvo who persuades the black slaves to fight for their liberation from slavery. When one approaches middle age and the ‘fat’ catches up, workouts become an obsession-‘burning’ the calories becomes the sole aim in life. History taught us how Nero fiddled when Rome was ‘burning’ and how a woman jumped into the ‘burning’ pyre of her dead husband, a custom termed ‘Sati’. Religion tells that how the good will is saved and how the bad will ‘burn’ in hell and there will be ‘bitter lamentations’ and ‘gnashing of teeth’. In recent times, the print and the electronic media have brought to us visions of ‘burning’ wild fires and volcanoes with heroic reporters attempting to spend the night within the volcano itself!

wonder why reporters often force us to believe that this is going to be their last report…..

CNN brought wars, bombs, missiles and ‘burning cities’ right into the living room where people watched innocent men, women and children maimed and dying, all while sipping their morning coffee.

they did not believe him when he said the media made him insensitive......

As a burn surgeon, the word ‘burn’ loses all meaning of fun, pleasure, romance or the thrill of the work place. ‘Burn’ means the pain and the suffering of the burn patient, the weeks or months of hospitalization in a major burn, deformities and scars that sometime lasts for a life time, physical and psychological trauma that will change life drastically, hours spent in the operation theatre trying to resurface the burn wound, skin grafts, flap, painful dressings and months of physical and occupational therapy trying to rehabilitate the burn patient so that they will ultimately go back to society and live and work as normal individuals. ‘Burn’ means informing the patient’s family and relatives with a heavy heart when the patient is critical or has expired.

The burn surgeon develops an unique bonding with his burn patient that last beyond the treatment period and experiences emotional ups and downs as his patient sways between life and death. Every burn patient teaches him that life is so fragile and sweet to squander away and if we could look at the good side of life, it would end up being meaningful; bringing in a sense of contentment and fulfilment. ‘Burn’ at the same time can be service and support, compassion and love, fun and frustration, anger and dejection, despair and loss, success and failure and much more……
 But at the end of the day, a twinkle in a child’s eye, a warm handshake or a smile on a patient’s face when he is healed and returns home to his family and friends, compensates for all other meanings of the word ‘burn’ and energizes us to go back with the same vigour and zest that we started out with our first burn patient!


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