A year ago today, 23 November 2019, I tore the meniscus in my left knee, chasing after a bunch of schoolboys who were harassing me.
I had gone for a mid-morning run in my beloved Biodiversity Park, preparing for a half marathon in December, the Mumbai Marathon in January, followed by the New Delhi Marathon in February.
To my dismay I saw a huge crowd of boys – all in school uniform – on the track ahead of me. Dismay because they were shouting, and playing music and chucking chip packets on the trail – all this in a Biodiversity Park.
But worse was to come. When they saw me, despite my age, they started jeering and whistling and catcalling and filming me.
Dreadful little b*****s.
Obviously I didn’t back off, but sprinted past them, till I found the lone teacher – it was a huge crowd of boys, all aged about 16/17/18 I’d say, taller than me, and with just one teacher. Madness.
I complained about their behaviour, to which he made them all say “Sorry Madam”.
Big bloody deal.
Realistically, I wasn’t scared that I might get attacked, but what appalled me was their pack mentality.
Their down right rudeness and misogyny.
If they behaved like that to ME, old enough to be their grandmother AND a foreigner (sometimes we get a little extra respect, but not always), then imagine had I been a young girl out alone…it actually doesn’t bear thinking about.
And at some point in this awful, awful hullabaloo, I twisted my knee as I ran through the jeering crowd to find the teacher (I think I remember slipping on a stone) and bingo!
I was whimpering in agony it hurt so much, and had to be collected from the park.
It’s not the direct fault of those revolting schoolboys that I tore my meniscus. Could just as well have done it when I was running anywhere, but I didn’t. I tore it while trying to deal with harassment and so those uncouth young men are part of the story.
I’ll spare you the tears and the misery and the downright pain of those first few weeks.
Cancelling all my races.
Hardly able to move.
Weeping when my GP told me “your running days are over”.
Weeping when the wonderful Dr. Chauhan subsequently told me “Rubbish, you’ll run again. Ignore him!”
I had X-rays.
I had an MRI.
I did extensive physio.
I saw an orthopaedic surgeon.
Didn’t run for months.
Had injections in my knees.
And I can say, today, on the first anniversary of that wretched day, I am 97%-98% OK.
Occasional twinges, but I’m basically OK.
There is NOTHING good to be said about this injury – it cost me 3 races, dammit – BUT…
If I had to be sidelined, I guess 2020 was the right year to choose, when so much has been cancelled and we’ve all had to spend lots of time locked down.
I can’t honestly say that my injury or the enforced not-racing for a year has made me reflect on the meaning of life, or anything remotely philosophical.
What it has done, however, is make me realise that running is not simply a question of running.
Running is a w-a-y more inter-connected activity than I’d initially thought, and the journey towards recovery and fitness, involving stretching and yoga and weight lifting (yes!!) has been something of an eye-opener.
It’s a journey I’m actively enjoying, especially the weight lifting, my latest passion.
Of course, in the process I might just become a weigh-lifting bore as well as a running bore 😛
You have all been warned!
And FYI here’s what I wrote in my Instagram post, a year ago today: