I stood there for a few moments while the enormity of the situation sunk in. Only Dr Natarajan’s tap on my shoulder broke me from my trance.
Bobby would need to have a cast applied covering his foot, ankle and calf. The cast would need to remain for at least 2-3 weeks before re-assessment. He asked when Bobby had first felt pain and he sat there with a surprised look on his face as it dawned on him that Bobby had walked for 10 days and covered over 200km on a fractured foot. I was also worried about Bobby’s hip pain but there was nothing to worry about on any of the other x-rays. The pain was simply due to Bobby’s limp over the last few days.
I held my breath as I stressed that this was not a normal situation and needed to know if Bobby would have the capacity to walk 20-30km a day for a further 4 months once healed. The surgeon reassured me that due to the fact this was a fracture, there would be no problem once healed. Relieved … I exhaled.
I briefed Bobby who was resting on the bed in the ward. His bloods were back and these were also clear although he was a little dehydrated and was placed on a saline drip while the cast was applied.
I knew Bobby would want to be as mobile as possible and asked for a cast boot which drew a lot of confused looks. Dr Natarajan entered and explained to one of the staff who left and returned 30 mins later with the boot. Once Bobby’s drip had finished, I the cast boot was fitted and he was encouraged to walk a few steps. It was clear that he would need assistance while the cast was on but at least his foot was secure and the pain had gone.
We left the hospital and I noticed that it was close to 4pm. We hadn’t eaten and I suggested we find a restaurant where we could all eat. This was easier said than done and 30 minutes later we found one 2km away.
We ate and it seemed especially quiet as no-one was really saying much. What was apparent was the deluge of rain that stated almost as soon as we had taken our seats. The rain was so heavy that a group of people ran in just after it started and it looked like they had taken a bath in their clothes. Even stranger was the fact that just as we got up to leave, the rain stopped as abruptly as it had arrived.
I now had to plan for our trip to Chennai. The route was not difficult as it would be the route we would have walked. The problem was accommodation.
One of our India Association advisors in the UK, Dr Kewal Singh had been in touch with his contact Mr T P Singh who had in turn arranged a stay for us within the Railway Officers quarters in Chennai. The only issue was, we were due to arrive there on Thursday 27th which was 6 days away. Furthermore, we were only meant to stay 4 nights and I knew we would need to stay in Chennai considerably longer than that.
I still hadn’t been sent a confirmed address and decided that we would drive slowly towards Chennai covering around 20km a day and would park up for the rest of the time. If an alternative could be found during our journey, we would speed towards Chennai, otherwise we would arrive there when originally planned and would sort out an extension once there.
We set off and it was already getting dark. The aim for tonight was to find the nearest petrol station. Only now I had to be weary of Bobby’s reduces mobility so facilities had just been jumped up on my priority list.
We got some way out of the city before Rahim found a suitable place and we stopped for the night.
We went to bed early and for a long time I lay on my back with my eyes open, thinking about all of the possible scenarios from this point on … I’m sure Bobby was doing the same.