[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, 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, 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.