A zillion years ago, when I was a little kid, I used to go to school by bus. I lived in a huge apartment complex, and it was a 5-minute walk on my tiny feet from the gate to my house.
Life was clockwork. Get up, get ready, walk to the gate, climb the bus at 7:30 am. Get off the bus at 3 pm, walk back home. Rinse. Repeat.
The bus ride was all of 15 minutes and was great fun. There were many other pint-sized buddies from my apartment on the same bus. The ride to and from school was a picnic of sorts.
One day, the picnic was extended. Some of the apartment kids suggested that we play for a bit before we headed home. It sounded like a great idea. A bunch of us tots trooped out of the bus at 3 pm, and instead of heading home, we headed straight to a wooded play area in the apartment.
Bring Down the Tamarind Pods
After playing this and that for a bit, someone came up with a grand game. There were tamarind trees in the area where we were playing. It was decided that it would be fun to try and bring down the ripe tamarind pods by throwing stones at them. Tamarind trees grow to quite a height (upwards of 50 feet) and throwing stones to bring down the pods is quite a challenge.
Obviously, whoever brought down the most tamarind pods would be the winner.
There were no other rules. In hindsight, I wish we had at least one rule.
The rule should have been that only one person is allowed to throw stones at any point in time.
Sounds so obvious that we probably never thought to state the rule. Or maybe it is the right time to admit that we were stupid!
And Then There was Blood, Lots of it
The result was that someone threw a missile at the tree while I was still under it. While the aim was bad enough to miss the tamarind, it was sharp enough to find my head.
Next thing you know, I am standing under the tree with a red stain rapidly spreading on my head and onto my shirt.
I guess some screaming must have happened, some adults came along, and I was carried to my house. I really don’t remember much of what happened.
Ambulances were a rare species in those days. I don’t think they even existed. Only one neighbor had a phone. Nobody around us owned a car. Mom went to the neighbor’s and summoned dad from the office. He brought a car with a driver. I remember that he looked more panicked than I felt. My dad was a chronic worrier.
I was rushed to the hospital. I must have been a scary sight because I remember my dad’s face looking pretty ashen. Imagine an open wound on the head of a tiny little girl. Also, my question didn’t help dad in any way. If anything, it brought him closer to fainting. I asked him if I was going to die!
The doctor examined my head and declared that I had a fairly deep cut and that I would need at least 6 stitches to seal the wound. At this point, the car driver had to take matters into his hands and drag my dad away from the Operation Theater because dad looked like he was going to have a full-blown panic attack.
In due course, my head was stitched up, and I was brought back home.
I was fine and was mildly enjoying all the attention from mom. But I had to compete with dad for the attention! Cool-headed mom had to take care of dad too because he was in a state of shock and worry for a while.
Post Traumatic Conclusions
Several decades later the wound has healed, and the only evidence of the trauma is a tiny patch on the head where hair refuses to grow.
All is well. Or so I think. My good friends have a different view.
Every time I recount this story to any friend, the reaction is the same. No one shows any sympathy. I am greeted with a smirk.
They all have this look and they say, “Aah. A stone cracked your head, eh! That explains…”
“Explains what?” I ask indignantly, because I know the answer that is about to come.
“The madness, of course”, they say. Every one of these so-called friends! Without fail.