Strange, this morning she remembered getting her legs washed. As she rose and was dressing, a picture came of her standing by the sink, bored in the bathroom, as the aya washed up and down with a cloth, bent below her. Persistent but resigned, the aya would say, “Stand up straight” as Fran’s left leg bowed back at the knee, sinking her hip sideways. Annoyed and dismissive, Enjoying her rebellion, Fran thought, “So what? This feels good, it’s my leg” as the sinews stretched ever longer and the habit fixed itself. Odd child.

The wiser adult knew her right leg was shorter. It had been mentioned, “Yes, an inch or so” which must not have been very much, since no-one did anything about it. But those inches made a difference. She had used to go to a cobbler who would fit a platform, and for a week or so, she walked more smoothly, without the lurch to the right, her hips relaxed and level. But the levelling platform wore unevenly and within weeks, the shoes had to be discarded as doing more harm than good. A new pair of shoes every six weeks? Too expensive after she stopped work.

Maybe her left leg was doing its childish best to shorten itself by bowing out. Maybe such small connecting things are known, yet we do not listen for them or discover them because we are so concerned with appearances, and travel the easier paths of disinterest. Is that our karma for not listening, for being disobedient, for not bothering with the boredom and chores of others? That one day, we wake up and realise the trouble we caused had nothing to do with our legs, everything to do with our carelessness and subtle dismissal?

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