Sunday, June 17, 2012

Childhood injury memories

There is no child that has not bled from injuries, esp from falling while running.   It can be from jumping also.    Certain childhood injuries linger in memory for a long while esp. the deeper and bigger ones even though there are no scars to remind.  Let me try to remember some of the injuries I sustained in my childhood. 

These days, people rush to the doctor and take an ATS shot whenever they get injured, afraid of consequences from it.  In those days - I'm talking of the 1960s and 70s - we used to just wash off the blood and do some home dressing.  I don't think ATS was spoken about with such seriousness in my younger days. May be they were used in hospitals for surgical wounds.

We children would do 'first aid' ourselves from what was found 'at the injury site'.  We looked for some thrown matchbox - the phosphorus strip would be torn and applied to the wound as it was believed to disinfect.  We did not use the word 'disinfect', but it was believed it sped up healing!  Even thrown cigarette pack paper/carton would come in handy to remove blood from the wound as much as possible and often they would be pressed on the wound until we went home.  Some boys used to borrow a small amount of coffee powder which was applied on the wound!  If there was a tap [water was available 24x7 in taps!!] close to the place of injury, we would rush and wash the wound and then go home.  If the injury was small, we just continued to play.  

We often tripped and fell on rough tar roads in the process of  quick running!  If I imagine that now, it gives me goosebumps. We cared nothing.  You know, we played various games on the mud pavement or on the tar roads, from cricket to hide and seek to marbles to gulli danda to 'police-catch-thief' and whatnot.  All barefoot. Wearing our hawaii rubber slippers for play was unthinkable even on hot summer afternoon play!  

Running the bicycle tire

When I was about 8-9, I was playing with an old bicycle tire. This was a very popular pastime.  We just ran around the street. When we wanted to go to a friends's house, or on some small shopping errand we ran fast 'drove' the tire with a stick.  It was a thrill to run after and control  it when it went down a gradient. 

Once I was going my friend Srinivas' house, driving my tire fast, so fast that I must have tripped something and fell flat on my stomach.  I still cannot recollect why I was running so fast!  There was a deep cut on the right wrist on the spot where doctors feel the pulse!  It took a long time for the blood to clot.  I returned home , tire in my left hand. I cannot remember crying for it as I mostly didn't.  The scar mark is still visible, although faintly. But I remember the fall near Srinivas' house clearly.

I used to be sent to my paternal aunt's rented [out] house in Basavanagudi, Bangalore during summer holidays. The main house had a wooden staircase that led to the open terrace.  There used to be a clothesline made of stiff zinc wire that was hung across, between the staircase and the door of my aunt's house.  One evening, the children of the owner's house had gone out and so I alone to play.  It was getting dark.  I climbed to the terrace, looked at the panoramic view as I had nothing to do.  I was careful not to go near the low parapet. On the way down, I decided to jump on the cement floor without stepping on the last 4-5 steps of that wooden staircase. When I did that, I felt something hitting and scraping my throat.  I landed, shocked.  It was that zinc wire!  I could neither remember its presence nor could notice it because of poor light.  I realized that the wire had injured me.  Very fortunately, because the wire was loosely strung, it had absorbed much of the impact while it 'played'. The portion below the jaw was red and burning.  It bothered me for a few days, but I never revealed it to my aunt lest she got tense as I was placed under her custody during the holidays. Nobody got to learn about this.

Fall from the bicycle
When I was in 7th or so, I was using my late uncle's Robin Hood bicycle [I still use it] that was available.  I was still too short for it.  My legs would not reach the pedals or ground sitting on the saddle. I could not either. So we shorter kids had learnt the art of riding the bicycle standing on the pedal on left foot and using the right foot for the other pedal, through the centre triangle of bars.  This required a different kind of balancing and control with the hands. At times, we had our left hand holding the handle and brake and the right hand was gripped on the saddle!  So only one brake, the rear one was in use!  When I imagine this now, with me riding like this down the gradient and quite fast, I get a chill or two! Of course traffic was not an issue at all but the element of risk was, of falling down.

My father was very fond of Masalay Dosay.  So on Sundays he would bring the parcel of Masalay Dosay for all of us for breakfast.  That home-hotel in neighbouring Krishnamurthypuram was famous for breakfast items Idli and Dosay.   Sometimes I would be sent to bring the dosays each costing 25 paise.  I used to take that opportunity because it was a time when I could go away from our street on the bicycle alone!  

I had bought the parcel and was returning home with the bag hung on the handlebar. When I was just 50 feet away from our gate, I had a fall because I recall that I had sped the last few feet and I do not know why I did that nor can I recall exactly how it happened.  It was a nasty fall. The bag of dosays was on the ground.  I had scraped my left knee on the rough tar road.  It was a wide scraped wound that made my life difficult for many days, so was the scar.  It disappeared over the years, like many such ones did.  But one scar remains. It was not from a fall, but from a flying splinter.  I was about 5 years young then.  The neighbour's house was being constructed and I was watching along with Buddi [same age] how they were cutting steel rods with a hammer and chisel.  Suddenly I felt something flowing down my left shin.  I had not felt the splinter hitting there at all. May be I was too engrossed in watching.  At the sight of blood, I started crying and I did not know to run home. My friend ran away.  A passerby on his bicycle, who was incidentally staying in a hostel on the same street recognized me and carried home.  He also took me to Mysore Pharmacy in KM Puram where Dr. VR Krishnaswamy Rao treated me - a few stitches and bandage!  The scar, as wide as a British Pound coin, remains!  

Splinter in the thumb
There is an old Carrom Board on which we used to play quite frequently.  I was unbeatable on it.....because it had unusually large 'pockets'!  :)  The frame of this board, probably from the 1940s, had got worn out and at places where the striker hit very often it had developed splinters.  During a game I had got a long one pierced by it between the left thumb skin and nail so deep that it required a little operation at a clinic.  That part is the most painful as it contains nerve-endings.  I 'did it' again after a few years in the same spot, less deeper.  The colour of the thumbnail has since slightly discoloured.  

Ear lobe torn
We used to play cricket in the open yard of my neighbour.  One evening, we were playing with a hard cork ball. I had a sudden impulse to stand very very close to the batsman to catch him 'off the bat'!  It was a very risky proposition. I was lucky only to be got torn in the ear [pinna] that required one stitch.  Once again, it was the same doctor to whom my neighbour Narendra had taken me on his bicycle.  My grandmother never came to know of this injury. I was always facing her with the injury opposite side to her!  I managed this for many days until the stitch was removed.

We were afraid if we fell in school.  We dreaded Tincture of Iodine for its burning sensation.  At home also, antiseptic lotion Dettol was kept handy with some cotton.  The most I suffered from an injury was in the throat. Read about it here. 

That is all for this post.  May be some day, I will try to gather a list of injuries post-childhood and post!  

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