I was sitting at home between jobs when my sister Sundari called from Bombay to say that she had had a fall and fractured her ankle. She had to undergo an operation and needed help. We all decided that I should go and I took the next available train to Bombay. That was the first time I travelled alone by train and the journey was pleasant. My cousin, Rajesh, came to the station to pick me up and took me to Sion where Sundari lives. The main reason I was called for help was because Sundari’s kids (Vinitha and Vignesh) were quite young then (8 and 4 years old).
The operation was planned the next day and we all shifted to the hospital in Vashi the same evening. It was quite a big hospital and the kids and I stayed there along with Sundari. My brother-in-law Venkat was with us during day time and went back home at night. It was a major operation and the doctor put a steel plate, seven screws and a steel wire in her ankle. I heard that the doctor had jokingly asked Venkat if he beaten her with a hockey stick as the bones were broken into such small pieces. But the fact was that she had slipped in the bathroom which has a tiny step between the threshold and the floor and her ankle had turned at that point. The sad part was that she had forgotten that she had put soap there and slipped over it. I don’t remember how she got back home after the operation not being able to walk. (Their flat is on the first floor and there is no lift)
After the stitches were removed, and she was allowed to move around, she was asked to use crutches for 2 1/2 months. When I think back, it sounds scary, but then we all took it in our stride. Not even the kids were worried to see their mother in crutches.
We settled down to a routine. I was not very familiar with cooking and for each and every stage, I had to take Sundari’s guidance. The first few days she instructed me from bed and after that, she used to sit in the kitchen with me. As the days went by, it was a major holiday for Sundari and me! We had such a great time together. The kids had Diwali holidays and everyday, Sundari taught me a new recipe and we tried out exotic North Indian dishes. Also a couple of friends and neighbours used to come often with more food items.
At Sundari’s father-in-law’s insistence, I practised serving food with my right hand, as earlier, being a left hander, I had the habit of serving food only with my left hand. I have to thank Mani Mama as this practice helped me when I got married!
I took the kids to Indira Market in Sion to buy new clothes for Diwali. It was good fun to bargain at the shops there with my broken Hindi. Not only Diwali shopping, I had a great time roaming around in Sion, buying various things from vegetables to clothes. Slowly I fell in love with Bombay especially Sion!
Our favourite past time was to call the cable TV guy and ask him to telecast the movies we liked. Vinitha used to make a list of all the Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan films and we used to watch all of them.
Both Vinitha and Vignesh were crazy about SRK (they are still crazy about him) and I remember that first time I bought a poster of SRK for them to be put on their cupboard. Having a movie actor’s photo or poster was unheard of in our household!
During this stay, I had the chance of going to Deolali, Shirdi and Surat. Details of these trips to be continued in more parts to come.