Boxer’s fist

That’s the “disease” that I’ve been diagnosed with, following my rendezvous with a cow last Saturday. Before you begin to get ideas, let me explain. On day six of the Royal Enfield Tour of Rajasthan, I was speeding at about 70-80 kmph on a Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana road between Devikot and Shetrawa in Western Rajasthan on my Royal Enfield Classic 500. I was day-dreaming I think, but when I “woke up”, I realized there was a huge herd of cows ahead on the road. I panicked, and instead of applying the brakes, revved up and tried going around the herd. Unfortunately for me, one of the cows too decided to strafe to the right. I had no choice but to hit her.

The next thing I know, my shoulder has already hit the ground and my helmet is hitting the ground. My camera that was around my neck has been thrown off, and the part that connects the camera to the lens has been broken. I’m dazed, my bike is flat on the ground with petrol oozing out of the tank and I can see major scratch marks on my visor. And my right little finger and left thumb hurt. Manju, who has just overtaken the herd, sees my fall in the rearview mirror and comes to my aid. The Shimoga boys soon materialize and pull up my bike. Then, the Enfield support team arrives and puts both me and my bike back on track in 20 minutes. My hand still hurts, though.

An X-ray the following day reveals a fracture in my fifth metacarpal. The resident at MG Hospital in Jodhpur (a Sarkari institution) wants to put a cast, but I want to ride on and finish the tour and I resist. Anti-inflammatory drugs, a crepe bandage and a promise to get a cast as soon as I return to Bangalore form a compromise solution. I take off the bandage every morning to put on my riding gloves, and ride on. With a minor adjustment in riding style, I completely forget the injury. I get back “into form”, ride the way I used to in the first half of the tour, have another (less serious) accident, complete the trip, go to Indore for Gandhi’s wedding and return to Bangalore.

I go to see my uncle who is an orthopedic surgeon. Taking a look at the X-ray, he asks me if I’ve been punching walls while drunk. I’m suffering from a “boxer’s fist“, he says, and adds that there is little that can be done to “cure” it. My hand will heal on its own in a month, but when it does, my fourth knuckle would have disappeared, he says. “Then you will go to a pub, and hold a mug of beer, and people around you will see that you don’t have a fourth knuckle. And they will assume that on some drunken night you were punching walls, and have thus ended up with a boxer’s fist. Then, you can tell them that you injured yourself thus when you had a riding accident with a cow”.

The injury was due to impact. Because I panicked when I saw that cows, I held on to the bike’s handlebars too tight, and when I hit the cow, the handlebar jammed against the side of my hand, thus breaking my fifth metacarpal. Protective riding gear meant that the actual fall itself left me unscathed despite my head hitting the ground. My helmet needed a new visor (who would’ve thunk that the extra visor I carried in my luggage would come useful?), my riding jacket has been torn at the shoulder and the protective padding on the back of the hand of my riding gloves has been badly dented. When my bike arrives in Bangalore, it’ll be sent to “hospital” to cure a few dents. It still runs well, though.

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