That evening I slept like a log. Mama said it was the tiredness and the shock. I didn’t know what it was. The cast on my leg seemed really odd though. The best part of the injury was that a lot of people would visit and they always brought chocolate. I loved it. Everyone who came, I had them sign my cast. It was lovely. This way I knew who all had been here. Some of them left some lovely notes to me. There was Tommy who came with his mama. She brought some flowers and some nice chocolate. I spoke to Tommy and told him about how the whole accident had happened and how I had thought I had gone to heaven. It was great fun telling him stuff. His eyes grew wide when I told him about the part where I couldn’t feel my leg. He was so excited when he saw the cast; all he could say was ‘Rad!! Totally Rad!!’ this is what he put on my cast.
“Dude, I think your cast is Rad! Totally Rad!!!”
He was the first who came. After him I had almost the whole class visiting me. I didn’t know that so many people actually cared for me and wanted to wish me well. I was quite touched by the concern they all showed. Pretty soon there was no space left on the cast to sign on.
I spoke to grandpa and Ramu for a long time. I told them all that had happened and how I thought I had gone to heaven, at this Ramu started laughing. He said, “Only you’d have mistaken a hospital for heaven.” I got quite annoyed with him, I said, “I wonder how you would have reacted if you suddenly woke up out of a coma and found yourself on a bed staring up at the ceiling filled with white light?” he only laughed harder. I didn’t talk to him until he said, “Really, think about it, it really is funny.” I couldn’t help laughing when I actually thought about the whole thing. My grandpa was beside himself with worry. He asked if I had any sort of discomfort. He wanted to know who was treating me. I told him my doctor was the best I could get, Dr.Patterson, Lisa’s father. Grandpa then spoke to mama and until he was thoroughly satisfied he didn’t let mama get off the phone. Then came the issue of missing classes. I didn’t want to miss my classes but uncle had said I’d have to wear my cast for at least another 2 weeks. After that I could change the cast which would allow me to go to school. Staying at home was fun only for a few days. After the first week I began to get bored. I had nothing to do the whole morning. Lisa would come home only in the evening and she didn’t stay long now. Uncle would come to pick her up every evening from home. He’d sit by me and read to Lisa and me. I used to love those reading sessions. Somehow I don’t think Lisa enjoyed them much. She would always sit away from the both of us and stay in a curled up position all the time. At times I thought she wasn’t listening. At others she seemed to be far away, thinking about something. I couldn’t understand her. Why was she so sad when she had everything any child could have wanted? Then it hit me. She must have been missing her mama. I hadn’t thought of that. That evening when Lisa left the room, I turned to uncle and said, “Uncle, I think Lisa is missing her mama.” For the first time I saw a dark look pass over uncle’s face. He looked at me for a while and then said, “Did she tell you anything like that?” “No but I think that’s why she looks so sad all the time.” Suddenly uncle got up, put the book he was reading back on the shelf and said, “I’m leaving. I’ll see you tomorrow.” The voice he used was not one that I had heard him use ever before. It sort of scared me. I didn’t know what to say. I knew I hadn’t said anything wrong but I must have somehow hurt him when I talked about Lisa’s mama. “I’m sorry uncle if I hurt you. I didn’t meant to say anything wrong.” He didn’t say anything for a while then when Lisa had come back into the room, he took her hand and led her out of the room. At the door, Lisa turned and waved. I couldn’t understand it.
The next day Lisa didn’t come home. I was worried. I hoped everything was ok. I asked mama to call up uncle and ask why she hadn’t come. I tried to listen in on the conversation but couldn’t. When mama came back I was dying to know why Lisa hadn’t come home today. Mama said she’d spoken to uncle. He said Lisa hadn’t gone to school today either. She had fallen down the stairs. Fortunately she hadn’t hurt herself too badly but it was better if she took some rest for a few days. I was relieved in a manner of speaking. I didn’t know what I had expected but I had honestly thought something bad must have happened. I was so happy she was alright but I was very surprised that Lisa had managed to fall down the steps. Lisa was easily the most sure footed of us all but as grandpa would say, “it happens to the best of us.”
For a whole week Lisa didn’t visit. Then a week later she came home. She looked a little drawn but I guess that’s what happens when you fall down the stairs. I was so happy that she was back. We could again play all those games that we used to earlier. She seemed less excited though. She still seemed to be suffering the after effects of the fall. I asked if it really hurt and she just whimpered. I could see tears in her eyes. She was crying, something I’d never seen Lisa do. She turned away as a tear rolled down her cheek. I reached out and touched her on the shoulder and she seemed to grimace. That was probably one of the places where she had hurt herself. Uncle must have been beside himself with worry on those days and that must have been why he had stayed at home with her for the past week. I looked at her and then said, “Lisa if you don’t want to talk about it, its ok, but please don’t cry.” She turned towards me and said, “Promise me you’ll never ask me about that again.” “I Promise.” I said. What the big deal was I couldn’t understand. I mean it was just a fall. It wasn’t like what happened to me. I thought I’d gone to heaven. She didn’t have anything to be ashamed about. Like dada would say to mama, “Women are sometimes so difficult to understand!”
That evening uncle came home. I hadn’t seen uncle in a while. He seemed his usual self again. He seemed to be extra careful around Lisa, obviously worried that she’d end up hurting herself again. “Girls could be very clumsy you see” he said. I smiled up at him. I had missed him a lot and I was happy he wasn’t still angry at what I had said last time I had seen him. He didn’t mention it and I wasn’t going to mention it either. Uncle took a look at my leg and said I could get the cast removed the next day. I was overjoyed! I could finally go back to school. I asked him again, just to be sure “Uncle, once I get this cast off, I can go to school cant I?” “Well, I’ll have to put on another cast but you should be able to walk enough to go to school.” I don’t think there could ever be another time when I was so happy to know that I could go to school. I was thrilled. When I asked him how long I would have to wear this new cast he said, “For not more than 10 days to 2 week. It’s just a precautionary thing. Just to make sure that the bone has set properly.” “In how long can I start playing blind mans buff?” I pestered. “As soon as I take off the last cast.” he said. I was on seventh heaven. In a matter of weeks I would be running around and playing, just like all the other kids. Not only that, by then Lisa would also be feeling better. It would be great fun then. We would all be together and sit by the park and throw pebbles in the small pond and try to spot the frogs inside. Just like old times.
The next morning, I couldn’t wait to go to the hospital. I was ready to go even before mama had had her first cup of tea. Dada wished me the best before he went to office. I was so excited. Every five minutes, I would ask mama if it was time for us to go, until she said she’d lock me up at home and throw away the key and forget about me for the rest of her life. Though it didn’t seem like she would do something like that, I wasn’t taking any chances. I didn’t want to miss this for the world. So as patiently as I could I waited for mama to get ready. Waiting for mama to get ready I imitated dada saying, “why in the world do you take so long to get ready?” mama played along and said, “Mr.Jayaram, you can afford to look tacky but a beautiful woman like me, I have to dress up impeccably so would you please wait outside.” I loved it when mama and dada did that. They sounded really sweet. Finally mama did get ready and we piled into the car. I couldn’t control my excitement and kept drumming the dash board and playing with my hair. Finally, we reached the hospital and we went in and met uncle. He picked me up and put me on the cold steel bench and said, “Let me take a look at you.” He then took out these huge pair of scissors, and cut off the old cask. It was a sight to behold. My leg seemed to have shrunk a little in comparison with my other leg. Then he sent me to get an X-ray done. A little later when the X-ray came in, he looked at it and pointed at some bone and something and spoke to mama and used big words that didn’t make too much sense like ‘tibia’ and stuff. She seemed to understand them though. They were obviously some medical terms that had to do with my leg. I really wasn’t bothered. He then measured my leg for some reason and told mama something where he used a real big word that started with fizz and seemed to end with therapy and had an ‘o’ some where in between. It was supposed to help me improve the muscles in my leg. Soon my new cast was ready and I was allowed to step down. Then with both mama and uncle each holding a hand, I tried walking. I immediately lost control and had this real painful sensation in my feet. I realized that it was because I hadn’t walked in so long! Slowly I began to move around. It began to get a little easier as I kept at it. after a while uncle said that was enough. From the next day onwards I could go to school again. This was going to be so much fun! I couldn’t wait to go to school and show off my new cast. I thanked uncle profusely and then got into the car and went back home.
That evening when Lisa came, I immediately noticed that something was wrong. I didn’t want her to cry again so I didn’t ask her what had happened. Things had become kind of weird between us. We no longer talked that much. She would just sit with me and she’d bring me up to date with what was happening in class. There seemed to be something below the surface that seemed to be constantly troubling her. She was always moody and irritable. The slightest thing could set her off. The latest thing about her was that she was scared of the dark. The other day, both of us were sitting on the carpet and we both must have dozed off. It must have gotten dark and since mama must have seen us sleeping she mustn’t have switched on the lights. Suddenly I was woken up by this ear piercing scream. I jumped up and there was Lisa all curled up on the ground, screaming. Mama came running in and switched on the lights and took her in her arms. Lisa must have had a bad dream, I don’t know. She was inconsolable for a very long time. It wasn’t until a while that she calmed down. It must have been a very bad dream or she was really afraid of the dark. I asked mama about it but she didn’t tell me anything. She said it must have been a bad dream, that’s all. It was fun though that evening. I told her all about my new cast and I saved the surprise for her till the end. Just before uncle came to pick her up I told her that after school I’d be coming to her house straight since I had to get my fizz therapy thing done. At first she seemed so thrilled, I caught a glimpse of the old Lisa. She actually smiled. Then it was as if she suddenly remembered something and she went back to her morose self. That evening when uncle picked her up, he said “I’ll be seeing you tomorrow at school.” Lisa looked at me and actually smiled. This had to be a good sign. I missed the old Lisa. I wondered if this was the case with all women. There was no use talking to mama about it. She had just been promoted and she was forever busy. Dada never seemed interested, not that I blamed him. He had lot more important things to do at office. I guess certain questions never get answered.