While Mummy lay in bed for her thigh fracture to heal, the leg had been getting shorter. Finally when she could be lifted and helped to try and walk this became a real impediment. So then Denis did some research and drove to meet a cobbler who made orthopaedic shoes in the old city of Hyderabad. He made her two pairs of shoes, one with a four inch thick sole and one a flat sole. This made the difference between a bad limp and a slightly shaky balance while using the walker, but it was a help nevertheless and Mummy could be encouraged to get to the living room or the dining room or the verandah to sit out there for a while, with greater ease. It was something to listen to her grumbling and often refusing out of hand to even try. Coaxing her out of unwillingness has been a large part of her care!
She liked being outside if people were with her. Never did she like to be alone, either in her bedroom or anywhere else. This got to be a strain on everyone and especially my father who spent most of his time with her. He was a person with many interests and hobbies, always liking to make things or be on his computer.
Everyone felt it was fine to leave her alone in the bedroom once she was safe in bed though she was never left unattended while sitting in her wheelchair.
After many months we had left for Pune ensuring that a daily routine had fallen into place though things were not ever felt to be perfectly satisfactory, but somehow things got done. Denis would usually leave her sleeping in her room and go out to his carpentry workshop which was separate from the house. I forgot to mention that many years ago Denis had lost hearing in his left ear after some over diligence in cleaning with cotton buds. All the same he happily worked with loud drills and saws and other power tools revelling in the sawdust and sound effects. He worked there making furniture and shelves and picture frames. He was a person who worked out energy through happily immersing himself in things he liked doing. Mummy, who had a habit of calling out loudly to him, apparently woke and finding she was on her own set up a hue and cry and by the time the Swamis heard and summoned Denis she had somehow rolled off the bed. It was a low bed, not even two feet off the ground but the impact of her fall was hard enough to break the humerus cleanly. Denis found her, after a heart stopping moment of thinking her missing while she lay between their two beds, a broken end almost penetrating the skin of her upper arm.
And so another operation was in the works to put right this damage. She had steel pins inserted to hold the bones together and weeks of recuperating permanently in bed yet again meant loss of practice of using the walker. Eventually it looked like she was healed again when to our shock and dismay an x-ray showed that there was still a gap, no bonding had taken place. The steel pins were obviously too light as they were bent and useless. Back she was wheeled to the operation theatre, and this time a large steel plate was fixed with some difficulty onto the almost by now brittle and crumbling bones. She spent months and months immobile and this disheartening phase passed slowly while we, who had made the journey there again, tried to cheer her up as much as our cheerless selves could manage, much of the events and stresses gone from memory by now. I can only remember that we were preoccupied with a dread of more misfortunes. It became bearable by doing things to fix up and prettify the house of a by now really elderly couple – beginning to show neglect. With these daily diversions the large house my father had built in a village they really loved took on a more refreshed air.
Denis wasted no time during the period when my mother had her first bone setting operation to build side guards on her bed which he fashioned from aluminium pipes, elbow joints and nuts and bolts. These fitted into metal slots bolted on to the wooden sides of the bed for easy lifting and placing back. Now she was really much safer than before but she did not like the guards and every so often would hold and rattle them. But with time she got used to this caged feeling and sometimes one could go in there and find her sleeping like an innocent child. She missed the times when she sat out with us. It was sad to think of her not being able to see the variety of birds,
the illuminations of the changing skies,
the ripening limes falling with a thud to the ground, as the months took their toll on her ability to accept what was happening to her.