Lodhi Gardens in Delhi is a lovely place, full of trees and birds and squirrels. It’s one of Delhi’s many ‘green lungs’, and in my view one of the prettiest, which is why I stepped off the walking track the other day, trying to get a better look at the pink water lilies growing beside the fountain.
In the normal course of events, people who aren’t hung up on speed, agility and grace often mistake me for a gazelle leaping lightly through the early morning sunshine. So it was a complete surprise to me when I set my foot down, felt my ankle turn under me with an audible crack, and fell to earth with the elegance of a tranquilized buffalo.
In my defence, when you know and like a place, you do not expect it to suddenly try and execute you by opening up yawning chasms under your trusting feet. I examined it as I staggered back up, and it was at least six inches wide and a third as deep; just looking into the abyss made me dizzy.
Actually it turned out that I really was dizzy. This happened to be one of those rare occasions when my mother was with me at Lodhi Gardens. (I was, in fact, following in her footsteps towards the pink lilies, which confirmed to me some of my hunches about the whole following-in-her-footsteps thing.) I put a hand on her shoulder, noting that the world had mysteriously been translated into a set of fluttering green spots rather like the Matrix.
“I heard my ankle cracking, did you hear it cracking? I think I will lie down,” I told her in my best calm voice, to counter a loud ambient buzzing that I knew to be the sound of her panicking, and also because, damn it, it’s more dignified to appear to choose such a position. As my mother shot off to fetch the car, an itinerant lady took up self-appointed guard over me, presumably to fight off Smith and the machines. Nothing happened to me, so she’s probably The One.
By lunchtime the pain was much worse. The doctor held my x-ray against the light. “Just as I thought. See that?” he said. Mmm, I said, scanning the thing wildly. He pointed at nothing and said, “Right there. Your ligament has snapped like a rubberband and you’ve got a hairline fracture of the lateral malleolus.” He said I’d have my foot in a plaster cast for three or four weeks, during which I could not get it wet or put any weight on it, and after which I’d have to hoist myself along on crutches for another three weeks.
The fright of it made me want to pee, and he told me, in all seriousness, that I’d have to hop to the bathroom. I tried it out, and told him this seemed like a very good way to break the other ankle. He thought this was funny, but I suspect he was really laughing because he was about to go to the bank with enormous amounts of my money.
Since then I’ve been hobbling about with a cast and two elbow crutches. Bathing involves a chair, a stool, three towels, and a mighty dip in standards of cleanliness. Walking involves swinging along like an ape through lianas, occasionally stopping dead when I get mixed up about which limb or bit of equipment goes first. Stairs involve a lot of stopping dead. My palms are bruised, my muscle development is terribly skewed, and I can’t drive.
They say a little enforced inactivity is a good thing. I would really enjoy putting my feet up, doing very little, and ordering people about, if it weren’t so much like having Independence Day fall on a Sunday.