The jury is still out on the dreaded illness. The Man from Madras Musings, who is no Henry Higgins, has however spent some time in analysing how people say it. The more refined ones, or at least those who have pre-tensions in that direction, speak of it as dengi. There are several others who voice it as dengu. And then there are some who insist that the u and e are silent and say it is deng, rather like the comrade from China who ruled that country for decades. MMM is still waiting for ding and (horrors!) dong.By way of its name it may be more musical than chikungunya, but in terms of impact it appears to be just as bad. MMM learns that, unlike malaria, it is the day mosquito that causes this illness. He has also been informed by reliable sources that almost every hospital in the city is full of victims of this dreaded vector’s bite. Many are being turned away for lack of space. MMM will not be surprised if a medical entrepreneur or two has already begun planning hospitals exclusively dedicated to the mosquito. After all, given the way it is happening now, they can be assured of patients the year round – between malaria, chikun gunya and dengue. Some have already begun milking the crisis for what it is worth. Those who call on them with unspecified complaints are immediately told to undergo the dengue procedure. And since not many patients know how they are to be tested for it, they are made to undergo examinations meant for bubonic plague, telangiectasis and glandular botts for good measure as well, not to mention adenoids, mumps and vesicular emphysema of the lungs. The end result is a fat bill on the seeing of which patients show signs of other distress, necessitating further tests. MMM strongly suspects that some of these hospitals may soon come up with schemes such as ‘Get Dengue and Enjoy Chikun gunya Tests for Free’ or ‘Family Plans for Dengue – Bring two patients and get a third tested for free’ or ‘Spend a weekend at our hospital resort getting tested for Dengue – swimming pool, restaurant and gym facilities thrown in for your family while you get tested.’

Our Corporation, however, has the motto – ‘deny the dengue’. That venerable institution has taken a leaf out of the positive thinker’s manual and decided that if it keeps saying there is no dengue, the mosquitoes will realise they are not wanted here and will take their custom elsewhere, say to Kolkata or Mumbai. Ask anyone from the civic body and after first hotly denying its existence, they then say that a few isolated cases have been reported but this is nothing compared to the situation in the Amazon forests or the mortality when the Panama Canal was dug.

The stock market is also interesting itself in dengue. MMM believes that there is what is known as a bullish sentiment as far as mosquito repellents are concerned. Another group that is expected to do well comprises companies making those electric tennis racquets that no well dressed male or female in Chennai steps out without. These are to be waved around at all times, thereby swatting the mosquitoes. What is better is that they electrocute them. But before you rush to buy one, MMM advises you to tarry a brief while. 2016 is an election year and some political party or the other may offer free electric swatters in exchange for your vote.