She was called all types on names, good and bad, right since she was small. And one of the things never attributed to her, was the word "dainty".
Childhood was all about thoroughly enjoying school, the outdoors, sports, good academic success, lots of friends, brothers who essentially kept her on her toes, and parents who encouraged her in everything like learning to play musical instruments, classical dance , art, etc etc. Exercise was insisted upon as a daily requirement, and she remembered doing her daily surya namaskars, often under the disapproving gaze of certain ladylike aunts, who thought this was taking things too far.
By and by , she even stayed away from home in college which was in another city, and got used to lugging her own luggage around, regardless of of the weight and number of pieces. This habit continued throughout her life, to the consternation of several folks, whose idea of an acceptable woman was someone who wasn't heard when she walked, was only heard when she agreed with you, and who looked at folks beseechingly for help when faced with what could be classified as , physically insurmountable problems, like leaping across ditches, stepping down from some very high steps, putting her two wheeler on the stand, digging in gardens, and so on. You get the idea.
She always was in the forefront carrying luggage for visiting guests, and would gravitate to the heaviest piece, unless someone anticipated her move and took the piece themselves. Loading and unloading stuff from taxis and cars was par for the course. When the car got stuck on the highway, while dropping some folks to the train station, the taxi driver who stopped to help looked on in awe as she backed up the car back to back with the cab, and swiftly transferred stuff , boot to boot, and told the taxi driver to rush full speed, to make the train before it left.
Of course, shifting houses after that was nothing new , and her help was greatly sought and offered. She actually enjoyed doing all this.
Somewhere in the middle ages, there entered a mental aspect to all this. There were worries, problems, tensions, but a lifetime of "facing" weighty situations, meant that she always assumed a solution was just around the corner, and thereabouts, sometimes time wise.. She was often loaded with worrisome thoughts; for the present, for the future, for people close to her, and those who counted in her life. But the habit of rushing in to assist, whenever help was needed , never changed; be it something physical, or even a load on some one's perturbed mind.
At one point it was the immense weight of responsibilities. Quick and correct decision making. Consulting the right people. Finding a golden mean between the eccentricities of someone's old age and medical needs. Sometimes some one's young age, and willfulness. Some punches to the ego. Some urges to punch right back. A need for self control. Reigning in of a mind, more disposed towards a wild gallop.
The human body is a wonderful thing, and it slowly reduced the rpm's at which her body functioned, in an enlightened display of mind-body interaction.
But like a car which is being forced up a slope in high gear, willfully ignoring the need to get into a lower gear, she ended up facing "knocking" ; only, this time, it was in her body engine.
Fate sometimes knocks, and we are unable to hear it. The same happened with her. It took a while for her to understand the need to slow down. Certain afflictions forced her to think. Some excruciating pains, sometimes of the mind, but mostly of the body. Shredding her confidence.
I see her often now, wearing an arm pouch, which, she actually thought, was a sling. She leans back and rests her head on the pillow that she keeps against the wall on the top of the sofa. Her shoulder muscles have issued her a warning. I see her cringe as she suddenly gets a spasm of pain in her arm. There is a smell of methyl salicylate ointment around. She hates it, but she can't do without it. She tells me of being surprised at being unable to lift the vessel with a litre of milk , kept on the stove, something she has been doing since time immemorial. A hint of a cynical amused smile as she tells about being unable to hold the steering wheel of the car , up there, and how she drove a day ago, possibly for the last time , with hands at the bottom of the steering wheel, something they did as children , trying to show off then. An avid crazy book reader, inability to hold up (to read) a thickish book on Obama by David Remnick ( a gift to her), bothers her.
Perhaps all this is saying something. About loading and unloading. In life.
I tell her it's time to sit back, and enjoy a nice cup of tea someone else makes for her. I offer to make one . The energizing and exciting physical loads of childhood mix wonderfully , with the passage of time, with those weighing in the mind. Slowly the latter matter more. And together, they eat away the fabric of your strength. In the muscles and sometimes, the mind.
Darning is always possible, provided you notice the wear and tear in time. The body actually knows how to darn its own. She must wear the arm pouch and control movement for many weeks. Her body and mind must both rest.
She tells me it is difficult. But sighs and leans back. I smile. She smiles. I hand her the cup of tea, and the cream biscuits she loves, but pretends to avoid. She moves to adjust her arm in the pouch, so she can hold the cup nicely. Supported by her left hand.
Life loads have a habit of fluidity. Physical to mental and back again. In always a new mix.
Right now its both. She agrees
And I wish her well, as I take the empty cup from her , taking it to her kitchen.