All in a Day’s Work

Not being the driving kind, I have had to rely on the husband and other strange creatures to get around town. As a result, I have had more adventures than any thriller writer could think of in my daily attempt to trek to work and back.

In the early days of our marriage, the husband was quite obliging. Not only would he fetch me to and from office, he would even bring me home for lunch and take me back. But then we lived ten minutes away from the office, and we were on our best behaviour then.

One-and-a-half years and a baby later, we moved to the big bad Capital. Husband continued to be obliging. After all, we were working in the same office, and he didn’t want the image of a brute monster, leaving the poor little woman to fend her way homewards to a wailing baby and all the household chores.

But then came the parting of professional ways, and that was when things started happening. And how!

The day came when I stumbled over a step in office and sprained my ankle. Having never had the experience before, I did not even know I had sprained it, and hobbled my way to my seat. Half an hour later, the boss beckoned from his cabin, and I stood up, only to immediately keel over. That was when I looked at my ankle, and almost fainted from the shock. The last time I had seen it that swollen was when I was eight months pregnant!

An obliging friend rang up the husband for me and he rushed over, to exclaim indignantly at me, “I told you I had an interview fixed for today morning. I’ve had to ring and tell the guy I’ll be half an hour late. So you’d better hurry.”

Half-an-hour? It would take us 45 minutes to get home, and I still had three flights of stairs to negotiate with or without marital support.

Mercifully, the stairs soon became a painful blur in my memory, with the only thing I remember being my husband whispering fiercely, “Can you look a little less as if we were newly married?”

The time puzzle soon resolved itself. After clambering painfully on to the scooter, I found myself clambering off it ten minutes later, at the nearest auto-rickshaw stand. “Do you have enough money?” the husband enquired, hauling me into the vehicle much as he would have done a bulky sack of potatoes. Some of my mute desperation must have commuted itself to him, for he told the auto-rickshaw to drive with a care for my injured limb, and told me to go and see the doctor pronto.

The less I say about that drive the better. It is sufficient to say that the auto-rickshaw driver was so moved at my state when we reached home, that he hauled me up, my chappal in one hand, rang the doorbell, and deposited me on my bed inside. Come to think of it, he must have been a young relation of Hercules. Lifting me, with my 70-odd kilos, was not a feat for the faint-hearted. Amma, who usually swoons first whenever I need any medical procedure, was wringing her hands silently in one corner.

The next bridge to cross was the doctor. I was exhausted enough by this time to not care whether I ever walked again. Luckily, Amma had recovered enough to go and seek the doctor next door. Yet another miracle. The doc was home and rushed over with the required liniment and bandages, and I was soon as comfortable as any woman can be with one incapacitated foot and a two-year-old baby.

When the husband came home that night, it was to a cosy family scene. I was prostrate on the bed, with my well-swathed ankle resting on a pillow. The son was beside me, chewing away on his nursery rhyme book, and my mother was on a chair nearby, watching television.

“I told you it would be no great shakes,” he said, eyeing my unfortunate limb with great satisfaction. “It was just a sprain. See how well you have managed for yourself?”

First published in The Financial Express in October 1999:


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