A few days ago I remembered a physics lesson. It was one of those long-forgotten things about Newton that was learnt on a drowsy afternoon and discarded with the school uniform. The timing was a little off, though. I was in mid-air, having leapt from a moving train, when I had the 'oh-oh' moment. On cue a passenger shrieked, "Wrong! Wrong!" - having watched me leap not with the train's movement, but in the opposite direction. Churchgate's platform dwellers quickly parted, anticipating correctly where I would land and how heavy the tumble would be.
A day later, I learnt that the tip of the tailbone is called the coccyx, and this upside-down pyramid-shaped bone is seriously taken for granted. You're sitting on it right now. If it breaks, the body shuts down for 48 hours. No bathroom. Winds will be strong. If it breaks and touches the intestine, it's trouble. If the break is more than 30 degrees, healing it involves a doctor, anesthetic, a gloved finger, and an embarrassing procedure. But most of all, if it breaks, you cannot sit down. Pharmacists will ask, "Sir, woh piles-waala ring chalega?" As I write this I am propped on three cushions. The piles-waala ring was unnecessary. Too many side effects.
"How?" concerned people ask in part-wonder and part-sympathy. I tell them. There is a pause. I can hear them smile at the other end. "Is it a..." they start, and I know what's coming. "... A pain in the ass?" How they live with it I can't tell. I sink into my cushion gingerly and mumble something to make the pain stop. But their coccyx is fine, and so they continue. "We must get to the bottom of this," or "Butt how are you?" and similar joyous witticisms. I leave them on hold and waddle over to my room to pamper my poor coccyx.
Injuries that leave you immobile are terrible, terrible things. You eat like Pacman, you think too much. You think of all the places you could be but can't. And then there are these horrible bum jokes. Enough, I say. Unless something original can be said. Something like "How about Brokeback Mountain?" Now that made me - wait for it - laugh my ass off.