A little backstory:
Act I : 14 days ago: Was walking to my parked car. Saw the stump of a tree and was actually going to pat it and commiserate with it. Next thing I know – am facing the hard tarred road 1 inch from my nose. I’m flat on my stomach and I don’t really know what hit me. I just tripped.
I found it difficult to get up. But with the help of 2 men I managed to get up and felt this burning pain in the big toe of my right foot. Other than that, I dusted myself, felt a little shaken, my knee hurt, my elbow too, but nothing was broken, I wasn’t bleeding. Mercy!
I walked to my car with the pain in my big toe. It was quite unbearable. Had some water, cried a bit and then gingerly started the car. I just wanted to be home. I got home after about 40 mins. I went to my aunt’s place that day as that was the plan, that my mother too would go there and we’d have lunch together. My cousin with her daughter was there too. The knee was throbbing by now, the toe seemed to be screaming at me and I just grit my teeth. I had lunch and then decided to get an X-ray done to see if my toe had a hair line fracture. Thankfully nothing. Just a dose of painkillers, an ice pack and the doctors said everything would be fine.
Act 2: 4 days ago: Had two meetings almost back to back. Decided to car pool for one and use the local transport for the other. Finished both. Headed to the same aunt’s (refer para above) place as I was dying to meet my little niece. Well, at about 7.40 pm I realized that I needed to be heading home after having spent sufficient time with this little ‘un. And since I hadn’t brought my car, getting the local auto rickshaw to home was going to be quite a Herculean task. Aunt concurred. So I thought let me book an auto through an app (yes, everything is about an app nowadays and Bangalore being the Silicon Valley of India, everything, even our parents will be on apps nowadays). The wi-fi at my aunt’s place was not up to speed so the app didn’t load (and 3G sucks! Vodafone you listening?) Called up Just Dial for the number of the service provider. The service provider says, you can only book these ubiquitous 3-wheelers through the app. Really? And a cab? Oh well, those could be booked, but there was none available till 11 pm. So I rushed out after bidding good bye to my aunt, hoping that I’d somehow manage to get transportation to my place which was honestly not too far away, perhaps about 4-5 kms.
I didn’t get one. (That’s certainty). The autorickshaws were charging me double the fare. (That’s manipulation). I was stubborn. I didn’t give in. After trying for a bit, I decided to just walk it home. It’d take me 40 mins., maybe 45, no big deal. It was past 8.00 pm. I bravely started walking. My wedges were not meant for walking. They started chafing the soles of my feet. I slipped them off and walked barefoot for half the distance. As I neared home, I knew that there were passages in the road that I couldn’t navigate without my shoes which I slipped back on again. All the while my toe was hurting, my soles were chafed and I thought they would bleed any minute. (I imagined leaving behind bloody footprints on the hard road).
I reached home, safe and sound. I heaved a sigh of relief. I was in pain, but everything was okay. I ate, I ice-packed my feet, applied whatever salve that could assuage the burn and I gave reiki to my big toe. I slept. I was almost as right as rain the next day. The big toe continues to hurt a wee bit, but it’s almost okay. My sole and soul both are healed.
Lessons from my “big toe” and the big walk
Never ever take your body for granted. Least of all those that you look down upon, like the “big toe”.
Your body is a gift. We don’t realise it’s value unless it gets hit. And when it cries out in pain, you know it exists. It’s akin to life. Never take people in your life for granted, especially those who care for you – they could be in any shape, live anywhere, but for God’s sake, don’t wait for them to get hurt to remember them. Reach out and express your love and support .Because remember, when the going is good, everyone is good, everyone laughs and you think the world is your oyster and it’s all pearly. Wait till you hit that goddamned speed bump and then suddenly you were wishing you’d noted that little garage helper’s number, it’d have come in handy.
There are always multiple options. Sticking to one is just being a pain in your own ass.
We don’t have to stick to the tried and tested. If you’re determined to stand your ground, you will find a way. And when you just slip your feet off those trying shoes for God’s sakes, you realise those shoes may not be meant for walking, but your feet surely are. Resilience is the key. And honest to God, the roads may be hard, but your feet can take it. And so can your soul. And taking the path less trodden doesn’t mean you’re going to fail. Let the people stare, let the people think you’re a slut, let people think you’re funny and foolish, it’s their problem, but you know where you’re headed. Keep straight and keep on. And even if you got hurt, big deal. You nurse your wounds and you’re back up on your feet. And guess what, the view from wherever you are perched looks sweet doesn’t it? And your feet got stronger. Remember that.
Keep focus and don’t douse yourself in self-pity. It stinks.
As I continued to walk toward home, I felt the familiar twinge of self-pity knocking on my door. I knocked it back, with a left hook on its solar plexus. It staggered. Of course I was in pain. But hell, I wanted to get home safe and sound. Those arse-holes who stared at me, whistled, thought that I was a woman, walking home late at night (well 8.15pm or 8.30 pm is not really late, but when you’re walking through lanes which do have cars and people about, but are dimly lit and even though you know them like the back of your hand, when you’re walking with bare but injured feet and the big toe screaming at you, it’s like walking in Hell) and could have screwed my happiness, I was ready to screw theirs back. Nothing was going to keep me from getting home. I was determined. And I kept plugging on.
I didn’t want to drown in self-pity – “why me, why can’t those posh people in their cars give me a lift, ask me what was wrong, I wish I had a pair of flats, God doesn’t love me, etc”. – I knew this wasn’t the time for it. Life doesn’t need self-pity. It needs decisiveness and action. Get on with it mate it tells you. Lots of people with no limbs. Get on with it. And stay on the path. And instead of wasting time on self-pity, think of practical solutions to what you’d do if there were obstacles in your path. Think of all the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon movies and the flying kicks, that’s more like it.
Plan better. And blame no one. If your inner voice is saying “listen to me” what the fuck are you doing? Playing deaf won’t cut it.
This entire episode wouldn’t have come to pass if I had planned better. Didn’t I know that getting transportation from my aunt’s place to home was tough? Didn’t I know I shouldn’t leave it till too late? Then why did I waste time and bring this upon myself? No one to blame but myself.
When in doubt, never ever shirk or ignore that little warning sign that comes in the form of an “inner voice” that says, “it’s time to go”, “it’s time to plan”, “don’t waste your money”, “it’s a great idea”, “this is going to work”, “I’m going to make it”. It’s there for a reason and you’d be better off listening to it. Business, relationships, hardships, idea-ships, entrepreneur-ships – any ship – works better when you put in faith, key in a few co-ordinates and steer it with faith and perseverance and I’d say luck too. But for God’s sake be pragmatic, not foolishly idealistic and hang on to something even if it’s sinking, you don’t know to swim and there is a life vest. You’ve got to make swift, practical decisions on what will get you to the island of Hope.
Walk the road. Gauge for yourself how hard it can be. Don’t just baulk at imaginary potholes and glass shards.
I didn’t know I was going to walk home. Home wasn’t too far away. In good flats or walking shoes, it’d have taken me 35-40 mins. I was in heels. Not ideal. But when are conditions in life exactly ideal? I took a decision. I stuck by it. And I soldiered on. I was upset, angry, giving in to self-pity, but I knew once I’d be home I was going to be okay. I knew the road. Not from up close he he, but I knew the lie of the land. It looked arduous, but nothing is ever as you imagined it would be. My toe felt okay on the hard macadam, my feet almost sighed with relief at getting rid of the wedge heels and I was fine. The road wasn’t so bad after all.
Dreams and passions cannot be achieved if we just dream. And baulk at the arduous stretches (imaginary though they may be). So let’s start walking shall we? Get our hands down and dirty. The only way to learn. And grow.
Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. We don’t really know what we got, until it hurts.
As I cursed my luck a little bit and was getting into the “fuck the world” zone, I heard myself thinking of the little children in crisis hit countries, war torn places, I thought of how they were managing in this 21st century and I cringed. I cringed at my own petty-mindedness and I looked down humbly at my toe and I told it, “please don’t let me let go of you. Stay on and don’t clot or let me have surgery, please. I can’t do without you.” You might think I was being melodramatic, it was after all only a toe, but that’s where you’re wrong. It’s never “only a little thing”. When things go bad, we tend to think the worst, but ground reality is different. I stubbed my big toe and it probably suffered some internal ligament injury or whatever. It would get better and it has. But I made it out to be an imaginary monster.
I had grit, I had gumption and I wanted to make it home. I did. And I realized how important it is to be thankful for what you have. Everything. In whatever shape or form. Because truly, we are blessed. If I have a loaf, it’s true there’s someone out there who’s been hungry for days. I have a roof and I have family and I have clothes and I don’t have to crib about the noise from the neighbours (after all think of kids getting used to bomb shells exploding all the time or people losing their limbs due to mines for no fault of theirs). I can’t begin to tell you, how thankful I am for what I have. I truly do.
One toe. A little pain. A whole bunch of life lessons. That’s what taking a knock can do. Here’s to my “big toe”. I love you, you fat little toe. I do. And I’ll never ever take you for granted again.