I am a very clumsy person. I fall down on flat surface randomly, for no apparent reason. Bump into doorways, knock things over and trip over my own feet! Minor cuts and bruises are my accessories! But never had I ever broken a single bone in my body. I was happy to head home on a bike and not to the hospital in the back of an ambulance. I reached home, took some painkillers and went off to sleep. The bus to Shirdi wasn’t until late in the evening, so I had ample time to rest. I woke up suddenly before my alarm could ring, with a sharp pain on my right. I couldn’t breathe! I tried to get up and the pain spiked! Somehow I managed to sit myself up. A few breathing experiments later it became apparent that deep breaths hurt and the pain was centred at my right ribs. Short breaths were bearable. The painkiller’s effect was gone and all I could feel was pain in my ribs. I had to go to the doctor. This didn’t feel normal. Somehow I got dressed. It was a feat to even do such a simple task; every movement of my right arm felt like I was being stabbed in my ribs. I couldn’t muster up the courage to venture out alone. (Oh! BTW, I lived alone; my parents lived in a different city.) I called my knight-in-shining-armour again and went to the doctor’s. I was still hoping to make it to Shirdi that night. But, fate had other plans. The doctor suspected fractured ribs. He ordered bed-rest and an X-ray. My trip went for a toss. Others went, but my beau stayed back. He sat with me till my painkillers kicked in again and left only after I had drifted off.
I hadn’t informed my parents of the accident yet. My melodramatic mother would cause me more trouble than the damn ribs! I slept straight on my back, propped up here and there with a pillow. Needless to say it was a fitful night. Next morning my X-ray report came along with my boyfriend. I read the report before going to the doctor’s. Yup! They were damaged alright! The doctor asked me not to worry though; it was just a hairline crack. JUST a hairline crack?! It felt like my ribs were trying to puncture my lung every time I breathed! Each time I lifted my arm it felt like someone was trying to pull out my ribs with a jagged wrench! And he had the galls to call it JUST a hairline crack?! I didn’t actually say those things out loud, but was this close to abusing the medicine-man! The doc wrote down few more meds and a brace for my ribs. By now it was apparent that I couldn’t handle this alone. I’d need assistance even to do simple task as lying down or getting up, or even sitting down. We reached my apartment, held my breath and called my mother. As expected, I was the one to console her and calm her down. Three days later my mother had put in an emergency leave application and was by my side. My sweetheart was by my side every waking hour of the day till my mother arrived. Someone had to hold my back and the injured ribs every time I had to move or lie down or get up. Despite of all the precautions and assistance, white hot pain seared through me at the slightest movement.
Attending lectures was obviously out of question. But my prelims had arrived. I couldn’t think of anything else except the excruciating pain I was in. But somehow I did pick up my books and studied the night before my exams. I couldn’t sit it taxis because the drivers just wouldn’t drive carefully even after offering double fare. But I had to sit for my exams anyhow. So, with my mother’s gratitude and approval, my caballero would pick me up right from my bedroom and take me to the college for my prelims; and again drop me back home after I finished each exam. It took us almost an hour to travel. He had to be extra slow and extra careful while driving his bike. (Avoiding potholes and bumpy speed-breakers is an achievement in itself on our Indian roads!)
January passed in agonising pain. February brought a bed-ridden-disappointing-still-in-pain Valentine’s Day. But I could move about without wincing by then. I wore a sari to my farewell and could even take off the brace for the pictures. But sitting for a long time was out of question. Moving my right arm still triggered agony. March came with me still in the brace and with it came my graduation final exams. I was healed enough to take a taxi from Bandra to Matunga for the exams. But writing for three hours was another nightmare. Half an hour into each exam, my ribs would start throbbing. I had to put down my pen and arm and sit quietly for few minutes to catch my breath. For me, the writing time was 2 ½ hour instead of 3. I had to leave 20 minutes early during one of the exams because the ache had escalated to tear inducing pain. The exams went as well as they could go… I could only manage couple of hours of study a day before. My result was a reflection of my preparation, but I didn’t fail!
Every time I come across my grads mark sheet, it reminds me of that split second which created havoc in my life, gave me pain like I had never known before and screwed up my academic track record forever!
Well played Universe! But guess what?! I didn’t lose… I did manage to get through my exams and pass… my marks were disappointing though… so let’s call it a draw shall we?! But it does make a good story today! So… I win!