12 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 DT Opinion Tribulations of a diabetic For people who don’t have diabetes, it’s not easy to understand the struggle Diabetes can make it hard to fit in LARGER THAN LIFE • Ekram Kabir When I was diagnosed with having excessive blood sugar nine years ago, I was heartbroken. My family does have a genetic history of diabetes, yet I hadn’t expected to cross that threshold at the age of 43. I was extremely scared, and went to a diabetician who prescribed medicine and exercise. I started brisk-walking, cut down on my rice intake, gave up sweets, and thought that I was doing fine. Five and a half years passed by since then. I thought I was doing great. One day, on a Friday morning at around 11, I went to see my father at his place. Chatting as we always did, he, a diabetic for more than 35 years, asked me about my sugar level. I said I was fine. He then volunteered to run a test on me. He said: “I have a spare testing kit that I want to give you; At a wedding party, everyone around me would feast on the food while I would be an onlooker, because the party organisers hadn’t thought of keeping some food items that were suitable for a diabetic patient let me test your sugar level.” He tested my sugar level and my sugar test came at 16. He sort of rebuked me for having such a high level of sugar at that time of the day. I felt let-down and promised to take better care of myself. Then on, for 10 days, I studied all about diabetes. That was three BIGSTOCK and a half years ago. I came to know a few amazing facts that no physician in Bangladesh had told me in those years when I thought I was controlling my blood sugar level quite well. According to some Chinese, Japanese, and American doctors, diabetes is a dietary disease and it has to be dealt with in a dietary way. That was news for me. One Chinese doctor said that the root cause of diabetes owes 20% to the human pancreas and 80% to the human liver. If you could, he said, unfatten you liver, your chances of acquiring diabetes lowers, or when you do acquire it, maintaining the disease becomes a whole lot easier. With further research on the diet of a diabetic, I discovered a daylong diet that suited my body and that could provide me the energy for the entire day. I brought my carbohydrate intake almost to zero. My aim was to live on vegetables. Of course, I did keep protein in my diet. At the same time, I changed the style of my exercise. In addition to just walking, I added free-hand exercises to my daily routine. In a week’s time, my sugar level came to normal. Initially, it was very difficult. A lifestyle without carbohydrates and lots of daily exercise would require extreme dedication and determination. This lifestyle made me a social loner. Adjusting myself to the lifestyles of people around me, or for that matter, society, became a Herculean task for me. I tried to maintain my lifestyle, a diabetic’s lifestyle, which was completely alien to society. I discovered that society didn’t have any idea about what diabetes was, and how it can affect the human body. At the same time, society wasn’t even ready to accept the lifestyle of a diabetic. I started facing extreme difficulty during social gatherings and feasts. At a wedding party, everyone around me would feast on the food while I would be an onlooker, because the party organisers hadn’t thought of keeping some food items that were suitable for a diabetic patient. In fact, nobody in our social environment thinks of making arrangements for people with blood sugar issues. The people around me in those social and official gatherings started teasing me for not being able to be a part of the majority. For a long time, being a misfit and receiving all that teasing, I felt depressed. I had to explain my lifestyle about a hundred times to the people around me. However, with my own determination and amazing help from my wife, I could go on with my way of living. I’m still continuing with the same style of living. I thank her for being sensitive towards my condition. If you just keep the problems of diabetes aside, and think of living with a healthy diet and exercise, you can’t make a non-diabetic understand how important these things are for a human being. And if you consider the number of diabetics in Bangladesh, I see them living in absolute darkness as far as the disease is concerned. A simple change in people’s lifestyle could make a big difference to their well-being. It’s a pity that no one realises it until he or she picks up the disease. I was also like them when I didn’t have diabetes. • Ekram Kabir is a fiction writer.
Opinion 13 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 DT The fourth nightmare Why does Nawaz Sharif even want a fourth term? One by-election does not an electoral landslide create REUTERS • FS Aijazuddin There must be moments in Mian Nawaz Sharif’s mind when he questions whether it has all been worth it. The humiliation at the unfeeling hands of ZA Bhutto’s nationalisation, the confiscation of his newly-wedded wife’s jewellery stored in the office safe in Ittefaq Foundries, the grovelling before a PPP government to have it restored, the sycophancy before General Ziaul Haq, the puppet years as Punjab’s finance minister and then chief minister, the gruelling rigours of electioneering, the bitter-sweet fruits of three prime ministerships, incarceration in Attock Fort, the 24 karat alms given as political zakat by the Saudis, the luxury flats in London, the obese bank balances held abroad, and the widening rift in his father’s family. Was it worth the price? Now, he sits by the bedside of his ailing wife in a London hospital, a helpless witness to her suffering, unable to compensate her for the years of separation and her self-sacrifice during their 46 years old marriage. A living nightmare Nawaz Sharif’s political oscillations remind one of the person who had a nightmare that he was making a public speech, and awoke to find that he was. In Nawaz Sharif’s case, his recurring nightmare has been of being removed from office by forces inimical to him. Thrice he has woken and found that he was. In 1993, the Supreme Court granted him a reprieve, but it proved short-lived. In 1999, President Bill Clinton rescued him over the Kargil misadventure, but could not prevent the coup by Musharraf’s cohorts. And now, in 2017, he has again been ousted. None of his friends (CPEC notwithstanding) have volunteered to help him. As each day passes, Mian Nawaz Sharif grows in similarity to the dethroned King Charles I of England. Vainly did the deposed king assert: “Princes are not bound to give an account of their actions but to God alone.” Unheeded went his claim that “the King can do no wrong.” And in his final moments, on the scaffold in London’s Whitehall in January 1649, he uttered these final words: “I am the martyr of the people.” Many argue that the by-election for NA 120 will be the barometer of Nawaz Sharif’s popularity. Whatever the declared result may be, it will constitute a false reading. No more than one swallow doth a summer make, one by-election does not an electoral landslide create. Inescapable realities The test for all the parties determined to have a say in the governance of Pakistan -- elected or self-appointed -- will be the next general elections. They are currently scheduled within 90 days after June 2018, or whichever earlier date Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi may be told to recommend to the president. After those elections, whichever party (if any) gains an absolute majority, whichever person (if any) secures the prime ministership in his own right, whatever the authority (if any) of the federal cabinet, none of them will be able to escape the reality that is today’s Pakistan. It is said that outgoing US president Barack Obama left a letter for his successor Donald Trump, which Trump has chosen not to read. That is understandable. Trump does not want to be prejudiced by realities. Pakistani prime ministers have never left such letters for their The test for all the parties determined to have a say in the governance of Pakistan will be the next general elections successors. Although they failed to do so, here is bucket list of tasks the future prime minister might like to ignore: 1. Control the population. The latest provisional census has revealed that there are 207.77 million Pakistanis. Half of them are under the age of 25, and will in time procreate. No man is an island, but every nation is. We have a limited territory within which to live. 2. Implement a national curriculum. Nations are not built from bricks of different shapes and sizes, fired in unsupervised kilns. 3. Ration water usage. Water, like a mother’s love, cannot be taken for granted. Water, water nowhere, and not a potable drop to drink. 4. Encourage vertical urbanisation. The sky is the limit. 5. Control consumption. No nation can afford $50 billion of unbridled imports, more than twice the value of its exports. Pity the nation whose fish suffocate in polluted rivers, yet hungers for imported smoked salmon. 6. Justify defence expenditure. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” President General Eisenhower’s words, not mine. 7. The law is not malleable playdough, to be bent and twisted at will in exercised hands. The list of imperatives is endless. It will grow, not because Pakistan’s problems are insoluble, but because every government -- whatever its constitutional paternity -- has chosen to oscillate between rapacious governance, inept governance, and vacuous governance. Why does Nawaz Sharif, then, crave a fourth term? • FS Aijazuddin is an art historian. This article was previously published in Dawn.