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Monday, 11 November 2019

NaBloPoMo 2019: Day 11: Our house Sardar Patel!

When Appa was working at the mines in Pali, he decided to take up the First Class Mines Managers exam. He was to travel to Dhanbad (then in Bihar, now in Jharkhand) to the Indian School of Mines for this exam.

The day of his journey, at around 8 am, Amma was working in the kitchen. Appa had finished breakfast, and was getting ready to leave. Suddenly, the pan in which Amma was heating water toppled over, and the boiling water fell on her left arm.

Now here’s a quick quiz to check if you’ve really been reading my blogs all these days.

What must have Amma have done when the hot water scalded her arm?

a. Screamed out loud and called for help

b. Bathed the arm in water, and then calmly reported the incident to Appa

Of course, the answer is b.

Amma just walked to where Appa was and despite what must have been severe pain, quietly explained what had happened. Seeing the entire region between the elbow and the wrist on her left arm beginning to blow up into a blister, Appa decided to cancel his trip to Dhanbad. (Those days, cancelling didn’t involve anything beyond not showing up at the station for the train – reserved seats were a luxury, one that we definitely couldn’t afford.)
Appa said he wouldn’t go leaving her in such a condition. He could always sit for the next exam. But Amma insisted that he should go and that she would manage alone. At her urging, Appa reluctantly agreed to leave, after arranging for the nurse from the mines’ dispensary to come home to dress Amma’s arm.

The nurse Jaimini would come every day – for the first few days, the wound was left open because the blister was opening up here and there. Only some ointment was applied. Later on, when the blister had completely drained out, she would dress the wound. This went on for almost 20 days and only after that, the wound began to heal.

During all this time, Amma continued her normal routine work. The eldest girls Maithili and Vijaya helped with the housework. 

Appa returned after about 10 days (the one-way journey to Dhanbad by train was about 2.5 days; also, trains were not very frequent and therefore, there was a huge crowd always, and when you traveled unreserved, you may have had to break the journey into smaller ones along the route on whichever train you managed to get into).

Throughout this episode, Amma never complained about the pain or the discomfort. She just got on with things. When the nurse Jaimini hesitated while dressing the wound, because it may be painful, Amma would encourage her, saying, “It’s ok…I can bear it…you do your work.” 

As my sister Bhargavi quipped when we were remembering this event, Amma was indeed the Iron Woman of our family! 


  1. Amma was indeed a central figure and exuded calming influence in your family. All along my respect for your father grows. A geologist, taking up a job in unknown land of Goa, traveling as far as Dhanbad in those days, not to mention other qualities. Carry on. I'm learning more about your family.

    1. How aptly you've summed up both Amma and Appa! Thank you!

  2. Omg ..... Courageous is all I understood ..... excellent

    1. That's all it was - courage and faith in God!Thank you!

  3. In the world where people keep complaining about everything, aunty is an inspiration.

    1. Yes, I've been trying to inculcate that habit of taking things in one's stride, too!


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