I don’t quite remember what started me on this, but I have given it quite a bit of thought and time. To start with, an elderly gentleman told me that my posture was not quite right because I stooped too much. As a remedial measure, he suggested that I sleep without a pillow. I tried it but I would lie awake for hours before going to sleep, and when I woke up in the morning, I would usually find the pillow back under my head. I guess that in my sub-conscious I realised that sleeping without a pillow was very difficult for me and I would pick it up at some point of time in my wait to get to sleep. (In my niddegannu which is Kannada, literally meaning “sleep-eye” but actually signifying heavy drowsiness.)
I was intrigued by how difficult it was to get to sleep without a pillow at the head and googled pillows. I found that there are cushions and pillows of all shapes, sizes, designs and with wonderful sophisticated properties. But nowhere could I find anything to suggest that a pillow served any purpose. On the contrary, I came across many babas, quacks and the like suggesting that pillows were bad for various reasons. This convinced me that pillows serve no purpose at all and is just something we get into a habit of doing. Then, I found out that my brother had stopped using pillows, his reason being that he had only one pillow which he liked to hug. My new reason for attempting to kick this habit was loftier. I didn’t want to do something which I didn’t know the reason for. I determined to kick the habit and though initially, I would wake up to find a peculiar feeling in the head, I am now more comfortable sleeping without a pillow than with one.
Continuing on why people use pillows, I drew a blank while finding out the history of pillows as well. Google had no answers to when people started using pillows either. I drew on my own knowledge of history to recall the brilliant scene in the Mahabharata where Arjuna shoots a few arrows into the earth so as to make a suitable head rest for that great warrior Bhishma. But then again, he needed a head rest because he was on a bed of arrows and his head was hanging loose.
I decided to consult a professional, or at least one in the making, Nemesis currently on the brink of becoming a Doctor. I produce some edited excerpts from the conversation I had with the enlightened one:
Nemesis: You there?
Nemesis: Hey, how you are boy?
Me: Ok. What about you?
Nemesis: Yes, surviving and all.
Nemesis: There was something you wanted to ask me?
Me: What is the purpose of a pillow?
Nemesis: Er, is that a trick question?
Me: No... I want to know the answer… a scientific, medical answer if you have one...
Me: It's for my blog.
Me: My first entry will be on the purpose of pillows.
Me: As far as I can see, they serve no purpose.
Nemesis: Oops, nothing besides, for comfort.
Me: Is it really comfortable...?
Nemesis: No, I think they do.
Nemesis: Generally the pillow covers are made of an inferior quality compared to the linen.
Nemesis: So you can drool while you sleep on them without worries…
Nemesis: 2. You can block unnecessary noise.
Nemesis: 3. You can use that for homicide, like so many Hindi movies have shown.
Me: I don't think they are really comfortable... my theory is that people have just been using pillows for ages...
Me: I guess your other purposes make more sense.
Nemesis: 4. If you are suicidal, and want to stage your own death, nothing better at your disposal than a pillow and a serial killer.
Nemesis: 5. If you have a lover, pillow fights can be interesting, as documented in popular culture.
Nemesis: And now, I am thinking…
Nemesis: I will put these up on my blog!
Nemesis: You know you are still the same old… Just look at our dialogue box: The ratio between our lines is some .
So, as you can read for yourself, all I got out of asking a professional on the purpose of pillows was:
1. Generally the pillow covers are made of an inferior quality compared to the linen. So you can drool while you sleep on them without worries.
2. You can block unnecessary noise.
3. You can use that for homicide, like so many Hindi movies have shown.
4. If you are suicidal, and want to stage your own death, nothing better at your disposal than a pillow and a serial killer.
5. If you have a lover, pillow fights can be interesting, as documented in popular culture.
And to top it all, a breach of professional ethics, considering that I had approached him in his professional capacity. He left me in no doubt that his blog readers would benefit by reading his discourse on my subject. Well, I forgive him. He hasn’t taken the Hippocratic oath yet, he was kind enough to say he would acknowledge that I introduced the thought to him and, I have made use of our conversation here, haven’t I?