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The many ‘lines’ in our lives

It’s odd how the suffix ‘line’ repeatedly impinges on our lives. Our frontline health workers — let’s salute them — are today our lifeline as they relentlessly battle the COVID-19 pandemic against overwhelming odds. In our anxiety to ward off the deadly virus, our faces bear “mask lines” thanks to the tight-fitting “muzzle” that everyone sports. Then we worry about a bulging waistline or a receding hairline.

Businessmen are understandably concerned about the bottomline in their balance sheets, while our politicians miserably fail to rein in the soaring price line. It’s the bane of the common man who will inevitably end up on the breadline or below the poverty line!

In cricket, we see bodyline bowling by fiery speedsters bent on intimidating batsmen. The revealing creations of fashion designers — plunging necklines, rising hemlines and plummeting backlines — send them guffawing all the way to the bank while raising the eyebrows (and hackles) of prudes who underline the need for modesty in dress.

Of course, the clotheslines at home symbolise domesticity, pure and simple, while an angler’s fishing line is the crucial link between him and a gullible fish, giving rise to the piscatorial greeting “Tight lines!” World leaders use a hotline to deal with emergencies or to defuse a crisis while ordinary mortals like us bank on the smartphone that’s fast elbowing out the landline. We also have snowlines, timberlines and, of course, airlines and railway lines — not to mention a ship’s waterline.

Power lines are a nation’s lifeline and industrial strikes bring production lines to a grinding halt. Laugh lines or worry lines crease our faces, sometimes grotesquely. And don’t we streamline a work system in order to meet a deadline?

Then there are political renegades who refuse to toe the party line and spies who work behind enemy lines. News reports carry a dateline and a weak storyline can ruin a novel. We scan the newspaper headlines daily and seek guidelines when in doubt about an assignment. And no one ever likes to be sidelined!

Sometimes we find ourselves in the firing line, with the boss or our elders letting off steam. Or we’re dismayed by the hard-line stance a boss or senior adopts. The battle lines are drawn when we are ready for a showdown with our opponents, and don’t we scan the skyline during the kite-flying season? Horse-breeders are known to be particular about the bloodlines of their stallions, and the medical fraternity is familiar with hairline fractures and borderline cases of diseases.

Lastly, in this era of advanced computer technology, few among us haven’t gone online. Taking the line of least resistance, perhaps that could be termed the punch-line!

gnettomunnar@rediffmail.com


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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 9:07:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-many-lines-in-our-lives/article36533752.ece

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