I slipped on the floor today. Went from one end of the living room to the kitchen faster than the speed of light. I came to a stop after I hugged the fridge. These things always happen to me. In the younger days, I would be mortified. But now, I don’t give a damn.
The earliest occurrence of this trait of mine – to fall down, to walk into walls and closed doors etc – took place sometime when I was a six year old. I was enjoying a summer afternoon. My enjoyment usually meant a dull, throbbing headache for the parents. So I was put out of the house like a cat. I was delighted to see that two of my best friends had met with similar fates. We decided to play ‘Kalla – Police’; but soon got bugged. We decided to explore a ruined house on our street. We were never allowed to go there because ‘it is where the Road Bootha which eats little children lived’. In reality, this place had a well in the backyard, and the elders were afraid of unwanted accidents.
This ruined house would have been a delight for RGV or Zee ‘Horror’ show. There was fungus on the walls, parts of the house had caved in and the window frames were rotten. We first decided to peep through the windows. We squealed with terror when we heard snorts. Was it the Bootha? Then we saw the flick of a tail. It was an ox. It was chomping away merrily, but seemed disturbed when we squealed. We laughed. Our parents were so stupid thinking there is a Bootha here. Then, the ox turned around. For some reason, I am scared of the entire bovine community. But my friends were laughing and saying MOOO loudly. The ox panicked. He decided to get the hell out. He made a sudden movement, and now all of us screamed. My friends cleared the broken compound wall. I did not. My feet landed in a hole in the large jelly stone of the footpath. I was absolutely terrified that the ox would get me and chomp off my head. So I yelled my lungs out. The ox got even more scared and it started bellowing. Everyone on the road rushed out – there was a constant – WAAAAA...MOOOO; WAAAAAAAAA ....MOOOOOOO jugalbandhi between me and the ox. Finally some passers –by pulled me out. And the relieved ox slunk away.
Then came the teeth-breaking episode; I was probably 11. I was at my grandmom’s for some festival. I was climbing down the stairs of the block to go out and buy kothambri soppu from the nearby kaka shop. One of the kids of the block was trying out a crazy stunt. She was standing on the support railing of the stairs – and mind you, this was one of the frail cement railings, and she was trying to touch the wooden doors of the electric meter shelf. She was trying to prove that she was taller than her brother. The brother was egging her on. Just as I was passing her by, she lost her balance. And she reached out to hold on to something. She found my neck. She pulled. We both fell over the railing, possibly from a height of six feet. She fell on me. I fell with my mouth open. Twack! My front two upper teeth were broken in a weird, triangular shape. I had cut my upper lip and there was blood everywhere. I probably looked like a little cannibal. I was taken to the doctor etc. No serious injury. Luckily the roots of the molars were not damaged. Still. I looked like a transforming vampire. There were no such things ‘caps’ then. Cosmetic dentistry was unheard of. It was only after college that I got them fixed. I wanted to save the broken pieces and possibly wear them around the neck, like how hunters wear bear claws and tiger teeth. But of course, they had been disposed. Trust parents to take the fun out of everything. The girl responsible for this was unscathed in the accident, since she fell on me. But I believe she had a sore butt for several days, thanks to the spanking she received from her parents.
Then of course, my Spiderman tricks on BTS buses. The front seat, diagonally opposite to the driver, is a tricky place to sit, especially when three others have already ‘adjushted’ and sat there. I too, somehow ‘adjushted’ and sat on the seat. ‘Sat’ is perhaps a wrong way to describe. I think only one-fourth of my behind was in contact with the seat. I was literally squatting. The two girls sitting next to me were supposed to get down at the next stop, so I did not want to let go off the seat. I just had to flex my butt muscles for another 10 minutes. But in that 10 minutes, a hundred people saw an admirable performance that cannot be beaten even by Mr. Bean. You see, there was nothing around me to hold on for support. But with careful clenching of muscles, one can maintain a balance. Now, the bus was speeding away because the bell of a railway crossing was ringing. The driver wanted to clear the crossing. He could not, so he braked hard. The momentum was too much for me. One second, I was on the seat concentrating on my muscles, and the next instant, I was hugging the gearbox. I got down immediately and walked home.
Another time, I was standing in a relatively crowded bus. But I was right next to the front seat, the one which is behind the driver. I was holding some stupid practical records in one hand, while my support was the loopy thing around the steel rail on top. Now, these loops are show pieces if you ask me. Totally defunct. So there I was all secure in the knowledge that I am unshakeable since I am clinging on to the loop when the driver braked, and accelerated almost instantly. The result – I swung forward and immediately went back like a trapeze artist. I guess the driver was shocked – he just saw a grimacing face flitting past him in an instant. Guess he must be seeing that face even now, whenever he tries to sleep.
With all this, I don’t know what made me go on a trek in Mudhumalai. Well, not exactly within the forest range, but on a small hill near the resort where we stayed. I made it to the top without a skid. While coming down, the guide was excited. He had spotted elephant dung. There could be a herd nearby. Just as everyone was peering around, there was a loud crash. Me. In my excitement I had slipped on a pebble and landed on my butt. Luckily, the earth was moist and soft, so I was not hurt. But I had left the mark of my butt on the earth. My husband says when I choose to fight crime, that could be my signature. Like Phantom’s skull ring.
Needless to say, I have a bad case of escalator phobia. I can never get on to anything that is already moving. The only time I went on an escalator, I was flailing like a flag post made of cardboard.
My recent performance was at Madame Tussauds, London. They have this section were we have to jump into slowly moving cars on rails. I mean real slow. But no chance for me. My right foot went under the car and was twisted. I was not in physical pain, but lord was I embarrassed! The entire thing stopped and people waiting behind us sucked their breath – it did look gross. Then the guys in charge came and lifted the car and released my foot. I was taken to their first aid centre. Already mortified, I insisted I was fine, but they had to make sure I don’t sue them. So they checked my ankle and made me describe the entire incident on a form, and also say that I was given immediate examination.
All this means I can never wear trendy footwear. I can only dream of those stilettos. Its only clogs and ugly boots for me.
Image courtesy - Thats my favourite professor :) http://monkeyfur.blogspot.com/
©Sumana Khan - 2010