I had always thought that I had achieved the pinnacle of ineptitude long back in life. I mean, when I cannot carry a half-full glass of water without spilling water all the way, what more could I aspire to achieve? A fractured right hand, however, taught me that perfection was still a long way off – though it also carried me a long way towards perfection.
When I returned from the hospital proudly flaunting my hand in a plaster-cast, I had expected to take up life from where I had left it before I had my fisticuffs with the electric pole (For all those who were deeply concerned, I checked recently and the pole is doing very well indeed as is the pavement. For those who do not know what I am talking about check here). Surprise! Surprise! Life was a shade more difficult than I had anticipated it to be!
For one, I found that your instincts are all wrong when you do things with your left hand. My first intimation of this was using the computer mouse. Whenever I clicked what my instincts said was the left mouse button, out would pop a totally unnecessary menu. Oops! There is something drastically wrong with the wiring. The next advancement in humankind – if
has not yet been repealed – should be able to instinctively change hands
without messing things up.
One of the unnecessary talents that I did pick up was how to cradle a baby in your hands. I have absolutely no intention of carrying one – even when wearing diapers (Of course I mean when the baby is wearing diapers! What did you think?) – but just try opening jars - with twist-on lids - with one hand. Cradling a jar between the plaster-cast and the chest and opening it with the other hand was the only way – since just trying to open it without holding it only caused it to spin like a top on the table. Nine times out of ten, just as the jar opened, it would slip off my hands (off the plaster-cast if you want to be literal about it). The memories are still so vexing that I shall not venture to detail my attempts at putting the sugar back into the jar with one hand.
Eating with the left hand gave a whole new definition to messy eating. Having made rasam for the day – not knowing that I was going to fracture my right hand within two hours of cooking – things became very interesting indeed. Any South Indian who eats rasam rice knows that there is this peculiar flourish of the hand that is required to get both the rasam and the rice into the palm of your hands. The first time I tried it the TV – which was about four feet away – got its first taste of rasam. The second time the plate spun right off the table. (I shall avoid giving you the details of the cleaning operations!) Trying it with the spoon trailed the rasam rice all the way up to the mouth by which time there was scant little rice or rasam to eat. The only way I could work it was to just pick the rice and transport it to the mouth – which meant that I was eating all rice and had to toss all the rasam into the sink along with the plate.
Let me not get into the unsavory details of how I handled the bathroom. Suffice to say that I went down on my knees and thanked God for having sent down the inventor of the health faucet even if it was on the wrong side (that is to say the right side, if you know what I mean) in my bathroom and entailed contortionist efforts to put it to use. As for dressing up – even in the lungi – all I can say is that anyone who came home in the first week after the fracture was responsible for whatever shocks he received.
You get used to most things in life. Yet, most things in life also change you. Now, I look at down at every staircase as though it had been put in place by a personal enemy to torment me. I descend it with all the speed of an arthritic zombie while clinging on to the railing for dear life. I glare at every pot-hole in the road as though it has been dug with the specific purpose of twisting my ankle. I give a wide berth to any projection in the pavement that protrudes more than an inch, while carefully keeping an eye on it lest it takes advantage of my inattention to move over to where it can trip me. As for electric poles, they make me shiver with fear.
How permanent these changes will be remains to be seen. The one thing that has changed permanently, however, is my own estimate of my ineptitude. I am not as perfect as I used to think I was!