Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A heavy black bolt out of the sky

I went to chennai last weekend, as we were shifting our house when an unexpected, shocking, painful, revealing and an enlightening incident happened.

Not much of a shift as we were just moving from ground floor to the first floor of the same house. But the shift was definitely tedious. Only two guys had come for packing and moving and I had to help them on moving a few things. I was being hit from every side. Mom calling me to help her get a few things from attic. Sis calling me from first floor to discuss on where to keep the fridge and the movers calling me occasionally for some help. It was then that it happened.

I was trying to get a few things down from the kitchen attic. Since the wooden stool that I usually use to get things down from there was already shifted above, I started getting the things down one by one without the stool. I took two card board boxes down, and when I was taking the third one down, a heavy black cudapah stone, the ones they use to make chappathis, that was kept above the third box, slid down and fell on my head.. BANG..

The stone would have weighed a minimum of 3-4kgs. More than the excruciating pain, it was the shock of realising that such a huge thing fell on my head that occupied me. In a span of a minute or two, I was surrounded by my Mom, swearing at the guy who had initially kept it there against her wishes, the two movers, who were weighing the stone with their hands and gave a reaction of pain and spelling out OUCHS as it the stone had fell on their heads.. it was not bleeding. one of those guys told that it is bad because it is not bleeding and the concussion might be more serious and we should see a doctor immediately. The other guy told that we should be thanking god that it didn't bleed.

I was bowled over by what had happened. I sat down for five minutes as I felt dizzy and was staring at the white spot on the wall.. I shouted at my Mother for sometime to vent out my anguish. Then I stopped. I continued with the shifting job again. It was still paining and my head had bulged like the ones that you see in cartoons.

In the evening I went to the doctors. My mom was lamenting to all the patients before and after us saying, 'Yen payyan thalaila chapathi kall vilundhuduchu..' After a moment of imagining it in their heads, they mostly gave weird looks. I was finding all this comical as the pain had subsided relatively. I was still a bit nervous thanks to all the 'nalla irukkiya thambeee.. thalela kallu vilundhuduchu pola..' from the neighborhood aunties.

The doctor felt my head and then asked me to take an xray, just to be sure.. the situation no longer felt funny.. The guy in the lab took two x-rays, one a profile and one in which I was lying supine.. I was sitting outside in the lab, when the guy came back and asked me where exactly the stone fell on my head. I showed the location. Then he took out one of the x rays and started observing that standing in front of me. I could see a big crack running through my skull in that x-x-ray. Then I took those x-rays to the doctor who switched on the panel where they see the xrays. The light on that didn't work. Impatiently he took out the xray and observed it. After seeing that xray, he gave an expression which roughly translated to an emotion that i had seen in many movies, where the doctor doesn't know how to communicate to the patient about his incurable disease. He rotated it and viewed it from different angles. Then he told, 'A few people do have this (pointing out the crack in the xray), which occurs at the point of joining of the frontal something something.. with the something something.. But I am not sure if this is that. I have to see this clearly and tell you.. This panel thingy is not working due to low voltage.. Come after an hour. I ll check and tell you by then".

It was very difficult to sit through the next hour. I was thinking 'Thats it!! its over, and i havent even started to do what i like.. and its over even before it is started.. Thats it! I am gonna die.. Just like in the movies.. and that too how.. chappathi kall thalaila vilundhu.."..

At this point i will digress into an analogy that came to my mind at that time. It was so very odd for this to come to my mind at that time.. but it did..

It was from the movie Hannah and her Sisters by Woody Allen, wherein there is a character Mickey played by Allen, who is a hypochondriac. He goes for his routine check-up and after the check-up is over he tells his doctor that he thinks he has developed a hearing loss in his left ear. After some tests the doctor confirms that there is indeed a significant loss in hearing in his left ear. Knowing that he does have the hearing loss, Mickey becomes defensive and says to the doctor who tries to probe him more, that he usually imagines things.. But the doctor who now doubts something, suggests him to a friend of his to do a complete audiometry test.. Mickey is distressed.

Being a hypochondriac, he calls up another doctor of his for a second opinion who tells that the symptoms might be due to a normal flu or the dark side of the spectrum., it might be a brain tumour. After this Mickey is panic stricken. He starts thinking what he will do if it turns out to be a brain tumour. He starts imagining things. Finally he goes to take the audiometry tests. The doctor who is not satisfied with the ENG or BSER, does a tomography. He says, finally pointing to an x ray, " you see that gray area over there.. That gray area there is what i had hoped i wouldnt run into. I would like you to come on monday morning for a CAT scan".

Mickey is devastated now. He tries to compose himself in vain..

Mickey(getting up disturbed from his sleep):
I'm dying! l'm dying! l know it! There's a spot on my lungs!...All right, now take it easy.lt's not on your lungs, it's on your ear... lt's the same thing, isn't it?Jesus, l can't sleep!...God, there's a tumour in my head the size ofa basketball! .... Now l keep thinking l can feel it every time l blink!
Oh, Jesus!He wants me to do a brain scan to confirm what he already suspects...Look, l'll make a deal with God.Let it just be my ear, OK? l'll go deaf, and blind in one eye, maybe.

But after the final analysis it miraculously turns out that it is nothing. At first Mickey who is overjoyed, later realises that if its not today, how long is it going to be before he comes to this situation again. He suddenly realises how meaningless everything in world is. He searches for something that could give him an answer to his questions.. He feels that he doesnt want to go on living in a god less universe..

Now, he happens to own this rifle that he loads and presses against his forehead, one day when he has hit bottom... He is confused whether to shoot him or not...he clearly doesn't want to live in a world where nothing is certain.. All of a sudden the gun goes off.. He was so tense that he pulled the trigger, but since he was perspiring so much, the gun slid of his forehead and nothing happens to him..

His mind is racing a mile a minute and comes out running for fresh air. He wanders for hours together to put things into a rational perspective... not knowing what to do, he goes into a theatre and watches the duck soup by the Marx brothers.. then he realised how stupid it was to even think of shooting himself.. he thinks what if the worst is true.. What if there's no God and you
only go around once and that's it? Don't you want to be part of the experience? l should stop ruining my life, searching for answers l'm never gonna get, andjust enjoy it while it lasts.

Now coming back to my story, the doctor called me after an hour and it finally turned out to be nothing.. He prescribed some pain killers. Since the stone had fallen obliquely i was not that hurt. In the meantime my heart was racing. Am I waiting too long to secure my life from the possible danger that could come in the haphazard future career of mine.. I realised that whatever accident I had was an eye opened that I should stop being so calculative(whatever little i am) and jump in and take the plunge..


  1. Dai if it is a chappati Kall which makes u to take the plunge.!!

    GOD HELP U.!! Or rather is the chapatti kall the god.! :P

  2. Calling the chapathi kall as god is rather idiotic, i would call it the stimuli in realization of something.. in this case how procrastinating to secure my future is meaningless in the case something wrong happens to me while i continue to secure and secure it more.. any incident that triggers some thought process is not trivial one.. :)

  3. 'Yen payyan thalaila chapathi kall vilundhuduchu..' - ROTFLOL ... :) :D

  4. "Calling the chapathi kall as god is rather idiotic, i would call it the stimuli in realization of something.. in this case how procrastinating to secure my future is meaningless in the case something wrong happens to me while i continue to secure and secure it more.. any incident that triggers some thought process is not trivial one.. :)" - good one dude...

  5. The write-up is mature and interesting.

  6. @Shiva and Jigar - thanks guys :)

  7. It somehow makes the reader wonder whether a person mature enough to pen this blog would require a whack in the head to get a perspective on life...In almost all probability, the plunge is already taken and its your logic trying to pin the course to a singularity helped in no small measures by the witty Woody.

  8. @anonymous - Yes. In a certain way the truth is already realized and the plunge is taken inside the mind.. if not, this particular sequence by Woody might have been just a momentary laugh.. some times we tend to put things in the back of our head and not give an active thought about it.. this was one such instance where my desperate emotions accidentally focused the spotlight on the dusty realization in the back of my mind..

  9. On a lighter vein, I guess you must have been pretty much knocked out to have been so strongly influenzed to have voiced it in a blog...Won't it be blissful if every answer to the questions that life throws on us get suddenly answered even if they impact might be a bit jarring at times...but then, I guess some are better left unanswered.

  10. Yes, definitely a crazy experience that left me both confused and happy.. not that i would want to experience it once more.
    Yes, it would be easy if the cost of an answer to life's question is something instantaneous as a hard hit.. but there is a charm and happiness in the hard route too.. Maybe I say this as I know that there is no other way out?