The Accident. Sidhpur, 1946.

[My father. whose name is Mohammedi, and whom we have always called Abbaji, shall be referred to as Little AJ in this story, for reasons of brevity and cuteness. Also because it is impossible for me to call him by his first name, no matter how little he was when this story unfolded, a story he recalls vividly, and was told to us in his mesmeric voice, in colorful Gujarati, the predominant language of the Bohra community of India. I hope to convey it as effectively in English, the chosen language of this blog. The setting for this story is a Bohra mahalla in Sidhpur, a small town around 103 km from Ahmedabad in the Patan district of Indian Gujarat. More on the history of Sidhpur and some beautiful images of its architecture can be found here and here.]

Little AJ could never step over the threshold of the school-gate; he liked jumping over it. Only, today he seemed to be out of luck. He knew it the second he jumped over and saw the puddle of wet earth.

He slipped in such a way that the slate he carried in the crook of his elbow somehow slammed against his ulna upon impact with the ground, as a result of which it broke. And I don’t mean the slate.

Little AJ picked himself up, and noted with horror the strange way his arm dangled, yet he made his way to the classroom and took his seat, and sat there in grave pain. Thankfully, the kindly teacher took one look at his poor, stricken, blue-tinged face and immediately sent another kid to walk him back home.

Now, Little AJ was an orphan. His mother had passed away earlier that year and his father (who worked in Madras) left him to live with his Nanima, his mother’s mother, who looked after Little AJ with all her heart in a little house located a 10-minute walk away from school. Nanima was very upset and distraught by his injury and instructed the boy who accompanied Little AJ to take him to Sheru, the local ‘haad-ved’, a bone doctor,ย right next to Allah Rakha’s paan ki dukaan.

Sheru ‘fixed’ Little AJ’s arm as well as he could and bandaged it, but the pain stayed all day and he couldn’t sleep all night.

The next morning, Nanima thought it best to send Little AJ off to his Dada Bawaji’s house, (his paternal grandfather) who lived in the next mahalla, a few minutes walk away. Dada Bawaji was quite old himself and all he could think of was to send little AJ across to his neighbour, a man called Najam Kapadia, with a request to see what he could do. It was decided he should be taken to Ahmedabad,ย three hours away by train.

So off they went, catching the first available train, and got off at the train station at Ahmedabad. There was a bazaar near the train station with a row of Parsi ‘haad-ved’ shops. They walked into a random shop and the Parsi haad-ved man there unwrapped Little AJ’s arm and surveyed the damage.

‘Must have hurt some, chhe na?’ asked the Parsi doctor. Little AJ was distracted by the doctor’s small talk and was taken by a jolt of surprise when the man suddenly (and very expertly) yanked his arm and set the bone in place.

Miraculously, the pain completely disappeared and soon they were on their way, back to Sidhpur.

19 thoughts on “The Accident. Sidhpur, 1946.

  1. Oh Munira!! Love! Love! love! …… when did you learn how to write so well, and the choice of sepia for the colour of your page is a brilliant touch. What can I say? I’ve heard this story so many delightful times but you write it down so well jaan. Calling him Little AJ is such a cute idea, and the descriptions and pics are very well worded and chosen. Gives such a vivid idea of Sidhpur. Please write something more soon. I’ll be waiting ……

    1. Can’t wait to write more Sax ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ve heard Abbaji’s stories so many times over the years, but now, listening to him again with the intent to chronicle has been a pretty intense experience, no less because it has prompted me to do some research and acquaint myself with where he comes from. As a result, Sidhpur has become more real for me and I find myself drawn into the past and hence more keen on reacquainting myself with his experiences. It’s proving to be very educational too. What would we do without the worldwide web??

  2. I’m so glad Little AJ’s arm was fixed ๐Ÿ™‚ You know I love your writing M, but these pictures – they just blew me away! The sepia adds to the atmosphere and I could see Little AJ walking along those streets, gritting his teeth with the effort of being brave. Well done girlfriend ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I know, what a relief! I felt my maternal instinct kicking in, thinking about my poor father without a mother or a father to look after him….as only parents can ๐Ÿ˜ฆ (no discredit to his Nani though….she stayed by his side like a guardian angel until she passed away, God bless her)
    He really was a very brave boy indeed ๐Ÿ™‚
    As for these pictures, I stumbled across them while researching. I confess, I knew next to nothing about Sidhpur until I started writing this post!

    p.s I LOVE the sepia effect esp in the case of these old buildings, where the detail stands out much sharper in monochrome than colour ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I’m a huge fan of sepia and B&W photographs myself…they just seem to have more character! I cannot believe I yearned for color picture while growing up! Isn’t that just typical of us humans – craving things we don’t have and never valuing enough what we do!

  4. Really wonderfull memories and how our elders have passed his life with so simplicity and love which is not seeing in these modern time.

    1. Now how did I miss replying to your comment?? Bad Munira! ๐Ÿ˜›
      I just read this story again today and I thought to myself, hey, I really did write it well ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. What an adventure for little AJ it must have been. It reminded me of my own misfortune when only eight and my mother sent me to get some mustard from the shop, because my father was expected to come home from the army the next day. She gave me an empty glass to be refilled. That is what one did in those days. On the way into she shop there was a single step but in my enthusiasm I slipped and fell. The glass in my hand broke and one shard penetrated my wrist and cut a vein, luckily not an artery. But there was a lot of blood and I was taken to a doctor who was able to stitch me up.

    1. Oh what a terrible thing to happen to you Peter! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I’m sure glad you lived to tell the tale ๐Ÿ˜‰ Interesting to hear about refilling jars of mustard though! And I hope your father’s arrival made up for all the pain.

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