Wild tomatoes
I was looking at tomatoes dancing playfully with the gentle breeze Image Credit: NYT

Accidents and creativity have something in common — they both come unannounced and when you least expect it.

This dawned on me on a sunny December afternoon at a petrol station in Fujairah when we halted to refuel the car and our tummies. As I opened the car door to step out, I was greeted to the sight of a patch of tomato plants.

As I stepped out, my left hand by the door, the creative hub of my brain fired awake translating the sight of plum tomatoes — some green, others bright red — dancing playfully with the gentle breeze ignorant of the busy world around them — into a volley of words. It took the click of the closing car door with the fingers of my left hand jammed in between to shake out of poetic stupor and flip to panic mode.

Time slowing down

Physics books do not cover the theory of time slowing down to an excruciatingly slow pace when misery strikes nor the fact why pairs of eyes that usually miss little are focused in exactly the opposite direction at precisely the moment when you need it your way.

The villain car door that had been the subject of praise for its ability to shut close effortlessly and auto lock, was having its moment of glory, refusing to budge.

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The culprits of distraction, the tomatoes, continued their ignorant dance as I realised that my fingers had many more soft tissues than my Biology teacher had admitted, that were together screaming a painfully-loud chorus. The only way I could draw attention to this solitary drama was to pound on the rolled-up window. This quickly got the husband’s attention and my trapped fingers were set free.

Jammed fingers can remind you of Tom (from Tom and Jerry) and not in a funny way, but like the cartoon itself draw unprecedented attention its way. The attentive husband was instantly by my side soothing and pacifying but even in my painful haze I did not miss his eyes do a careful check of the window that had just been subjected to my pounding.

By the time we got to the hospital Emergency, all our attention was centred on my throbbing fingers, specially the index finger that resembled the plump red tomato at the petrol station, but hospitals have a way of reducing your enormous mountain of misery into an insignificant molehill for a jammed finger was surely the mildest casualty among those in various stages of agony awaiting treatment.

Mildly disappointing

It was mildly disappointing when the doctor barely gave a peek and an x-ray later dismissed it as a soft tissue injury that required a splint for support, some painkillers if required coupled with adequate rest, ice and elevation.

Over the next few days, I painfully learnt that the index finger did so much more than just point out things, for good or ill. On the other side of a few accidental drops and breaks, I was sorely reminded that the now-swollen, dysfunctional pointer had always partnered with the thumb to grab and grasp objects.

My fingers that usually flew over the keyboard, specifically for letters — F, G, T and R that used the left pointer, as thoughts were scribed into words and sentences, now struggled between the distressing task of typing and keeping up with what was to be written. Every touch and grasp was a painful negotiation of ‘to do’ or ‘not to do’ than an order.

On a recent day, as I was nursing my still-sore fingers, the husband wondered aloud how a fully-conscious sane adult could blame a patch of tomato shrubs growing at a corner in a busy petrol station for jamming fingers between the door of a car.

I could only sigh in response for it takes an experience to get you to understand that creativity and accidents come unannounced and when you least expect it.

— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha