Adults are yet to keep the promises they made to me as a child, and I feel let down. This is the problem with adults – they never keep promises to children, something I found out when I became an adult myself and had to make unkeepable promises to children just to keep them quiet.

I once had to stay away from my classes in school because of a terrible cold and some kind of a flu. A cold lasts for a week with medication and for seven days without it, I was told by a passing uncle. I don’t hear that line so often now, but when I was growing up, people were waiting for friends and relatives to catch a cold so they could say it and guffaw. We were simple folk back then.

Beneath the so-called humour was the stark reality: there was really no cure for the common cold. It had to run its course with or without all that Vitamin C that you swallowed. You simply gave in to it and hoped for the best.

The one bright spark through that period was something a teacher told me: By the time you grow up and start working, they would have found a cure for the common cold. I did grow up and I did start working, and I have been working for decades now, but guess what? That cure is yet to materialise.

Within weeks of the Covid-19 hitting us, we (when I say we, I mean mankind, of course) were able to find a vaccine for it. Quite remarkable. Yet that common cold remains unconquered. Perhaps we should give researchers a deadline: find a cure for the common cold by the end of the year or else. It’s not that we can’t do it, it seems we are just not bothered.

The common cold is not something romantic or likely to make billionaires of pharma chiefs who might find a cure. They will be forced to share the formula and then what happens? No yachts, no houses on islands, no chance of travelling solo into outer space.

Another promise adults failed to keep was made to us in English class. All these years later, the teacher’s tone is still clear: “There is no exact rhyme for the word ‘orange’ in the English language,” she told us, and then imitating her colleagues said, “But by the time you grow up and start working, they would have found one.”

The nearest we have is “scavenge” and perhaps “lozenge”. Not quite there. If they found a cure for the common cold and called it lorenge, they could solve both problems at one shot – the cure and the rhyme.

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