To My Precious Baby

Lately with you becoming a pre teen and me with my Alzheimers( or is it mad cow??) we are surely having a lot of fun!
I know life gets a bit difficult as you grow older and become a teenager and I also know I make no sense most of the times.
But my darling baby girl, Mama wants to tell you this
You will always be my baby and I will always be there for you.
I can never thank you enough for chosing me as your mama!

This song is for you..

I wanted to study. I tried to read my text book. But the bitter tears refused to stop and my vision was getting blurred.
May be my vision was blurred, because I didn’t wear my specks. I looked around to see where I had kept my glasses. I had left it on the floor
I looked at my crooked specks on the floor. Stupid specks. It was a part of my signature, ‘deaf and dumb and blind’. I couldn’t break free from the chains that bound me. I couldn’t be perfect like my sisters. There was no magic that could make me hear everything. There was no magic that would make me see everything without my specks. There was no magic that would make me prefect.
It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t chose to be born like this. Did I?

I was in a storm of regrets. Why didn’t I ever think of myself? Why didn’t I tell Amma that I won’t drop my sisters to school? Why didn’t I eat all those candies, instead of saving them for my sisters? Why didn’t I buy things for myself instead of buying for my sisters when I went to Dubai? Why did I chose to live for everyone else? Why couldn’t I be like Maria? Why couldn’t I be like Appa?

I wanted to. I wanted to walk away from my mad family. I wanted to teach them all a lesson. I promised myself that I would stop worrying about my family and start to think of me. I hated the Nina, who put everyone else first and me the last. Because at the end of the day everything was kanakkai poyi . No I wasn’t going to be stupid anymore. I am going to be the new Nina Thomas, the one who is going to think of herself first before anyone else.
The thought of new Nina and all that she was going to do finally calmed my mind.
It was getting colder and I decided to go inside and get my blanket. Perhaps I will make myself a cup of coffee, hopefully that would keep me awake.I opened the kitchen door leading to the balcony to go inside. I saw Amma sitting at the sewing machine trying to stitch a fall for the saree I got for her. She must have heard the door being opened, because she looked up and saw me. I pretended I didn’t see her. Ignoring everyone was part of the plan for the new Nina.
I took the pot from the plate rack and filled it with water. I thought asking Amma, if she would like to have a cup of coffee. Then I remembered I am the new Nina!
I lighted the gas fire using the brand new lighter I got for Amma from Dubai. Instead of sparks, this one actually had a flame and it was so easy to use. I remembered the electric kettle I got for Amma and made a mental note to get the plug fixed. Then I thought, would the new Nina have to do that? Is getting a plug fixed be considered as caring? Nah, I am not doing it because I care, I am doing it because the kettle is useless without a plug and my mother wouldn’t be able to get it fixed because she doesn’t know to speak Kannada and get it done.
‘You are still caring’ Sensible one spoke
‘No I am not, I am just getting it fixed, otherwise it will sit in the cupboard till eternity’
“So who is he with now?”
I almost jumped back when I heard someone speaking while I was arguing with the sensible one.
I noticed Amma standing near the kitchen door
“What?” I asked
“So who is he with now?”
“Your father”
“What do you mean?”
“stop acting dumb Nina”
The water started to boil and I turned to get the coffee powder and sugar.
“I am talking to you Nina”
“Amma I have no idea what you are talking”
Nintey thantha arudey koode aa ipplo thamasikkunney?? ( who is your father staying with now?”
I took the teaspoon from the plate rack and measured the sugar. I knew what Amma was asking. I knew the answer too. But how can a daughter tell her mother about her father’s mistress? I looked inside the pot, I couldn’t remember how many spoons of sugar I put inside already. I couldn’t see the sugar inside the boiling water either. I looked at Amma to see if she had noticed how many spoons of sugar I put inside. Amma was staring at me.
“I know your father is not an angel”
“I don’t know what you are talking about Amma” I spoke. I didn’t want to add anymore sugar, just incase Amma had noticed how many spoons of sugar I have already added. Anyway I can always add sugar at the end.
I tried to open the coffee powder container. It almost slipped out of my hand. No Nina Not now, don’t even dream of dropping the container. I told myself. Old Nina or the new Nina, you drop that container and you will be doomed!
I held the tin close to my body and opened the lid, carefully taking a tea spoon of coffee powder. I wanted to make sure, I didn’t take more than the required amount to make a cup of coffee. I didn’t want to be yelled at for wasting precious coffee powder.
“I know he is living with someone” Amma spoke
“How do you know that?”
“because I know”
“How?” I watched the coffee in the pot starting to boil. I quickly reduced the flame. I knew Amma was waiting for a chance to yell at me and I felt pretty good that I wasn’t giving her a chance.
“I found him with Akkachi once”
It took a few seconds to actually register. Akkachi? Akkachi who?
“What?” I almost screamed when I realized what my mother just now said.
Perhaps I didn’t hear it correctly. It couldn’t be Akkachi. She meant the world to me. She wouldn’t do anything to hurt me.
“Once I had severe migraine and I took half day leave and came home. Your father and Akkachi was in bed” Amma spoke casually
“Which Akkachi?”
“How many Akkachi’s do you know” Amma asked
My hands started to tremble. I held on to the kitchen counter. I had loved Akkachi more than I loved Amma and I couldn’t believe that she would do such a thing.
“What did you do?” I asked Amma
“why not?”
“Then who would take care of you?” Amma was looking at me. “You were sick all the time, I couldn’t quit my job and take care of you because I didn’t know when your father was going to abandon us. I needed a good maid and she was a good maid. So I pretended nothing happened. Entey kunjungaley valarthi edukkendathu entey avashayam ayirunnu( don’t know how to translate). All the neighbours used to tell me what was going on between your father and Akkachi. I kept telling them that I knew my husband. He won’t do any such things. I had to save my face, No? If I had fired her, what are my chances that your father won’t sleep with the next one? what was the point Nina? Who was there for me? Who would have taken care of you?”
Sorry can’t type anymore today.

I was even more determined to study. I wanted to. I had to. Medical degree was the one and only option I had to finally leave my home. I looked around the room to find a suitable place to sit and study. We didn’t have a dining table. Apart from the mattress bed in the living room there was 4 metallic blue folding chairs.
Sally was watching Bold and the Beautiful on TV. I looked at the TV trying to figure out who married whom this time.
It was interesting to watch Amma coming out every few minutes from the kitchen to watch the program and each time Amma went back, Sally gave a running commentary about how Sally Spectra was trying to steal the designs from the Forrester’s.
“She is so ugly and mean” I heard my sister speaking.
“She is only acting Sally” I replied
“Look at her Nina, Look how ugly she is!”
“You can’t call anyone ugly Sally, She was born that way”
“Yeah right, born that way, Ha! She is ugly and that is a fact” Amma came out holding the spatula in her hand and spoke.
I looked at Amma, She was wearing an old blue nightgown with banana sap stain all over the front, lace around the neck of the night gown was torn, her, hair tied in a tiny bun and she still had patches of hair dye that she applied on her hair on her forehead.
I thought of asking her have you seen your own image in the mirror lately? But I knew that would hurt her feelings. She believes that she looked like Padmini Kolhapuri and who was I to tell her otherwise? Besides why would I want to hurt my mother because she said Sally Spectra looked ugly?
‘She is ugly Nina’ Sensible one spoke
‘Shut up’ I spoke. I didn’t want to judge anyone. But some where at the back of my head I felt Sally Spectra was ugly. I consoled myself by thinking, perhaps that is exactly what the producers of the show intended. Hate the villain who was ugly and huge and had a weird hairstyle and love the polished.beautiful, caring and considerate Stephanie.
All right Nina, that is enough I told myself. You can’t write what Ridge and Brooke did for Microbiology exams! So stop wasting time.
I knew there was no way I could ask Sally to turn off the TV. I thought of going to Liza’s room and study. But that would create further fights. Amma’s room had a table and she had kept all her sewing stuff on it. I didn’t want to be any where near Amma’s sewing stuff, she would blame me for everything that went wrong with her embroidery.
I took one of the folding metal chair and walked to the balcony. Amma was looking at me.
“Going to sit outside and study” I spoke
Amma shrugged her shoulder and I felt she was telling me that ‘you are dumb, so what difference did it make where you sat and studied!”

It was pretty cold outside and the street was quiet. I thought I heard a bike stopping near the corner, so I went near the railings to look out, hoping it wasn’t Arjun.
Nah, he won’t come at this time of the day, I told myself. Then I saw Liza walking towards the house. she looked up and saw me standing. I watched her turning her head to the back and checking. I knew what was going on. I walked inside and stood near the door waiting for Liza to come up stairs.
“Where were you till now?” I asked her as soon as she reached the main entrance
“Who are you to ask?”
“I am Nina Thomas” I replied. Liza pushed me away to enter the living room
“I asked you Liza, where were you till now?”
Amma too came out of the kitchen to see what was going on.
“Amma, ask her where was she till now?” I told Amma
“She had to go for basketball practice” Amma spoke
“Till now? Till 8.45 pm?” I asked Amma
“What is your problem Nina?” Amma asked
“Amma, this is not right, She has to come back home on time. She is too young to hang out with guys”
“Really? Too young to hang out with guys Ah? So It is ok for you to hang out with Arjun ah?” Amma asked
I felt so angry when Amma spoke like that
“Well, I don’t ask Arjun to drop me near the corner, I don’t sneak out behind your back” I replied
I watched Liza entering her room and in the next second she came out
“Who was in my room?” She screamed
I looked at her trying to see what is going on
“Who was laying down on my bed”
“I was” I replied
“How dare you?”
In an instant my sister who was 4 years younger to me came rushing and she slapped me across my cheeks. I jerked my head and my specs flew off my face and fell to the ground.
kanakkai poyi, ( serves you right), I told you she doesn’t like anyone laying down on her bed” Amma hissed and went back to the kitchen.
I saw Liza walking back to her room. I wanted to run after her and kick her and kill her. It wasn’t a crime to sleep on your sisters bed. I did everything for her. I did everything to make sure that she has a comfortable life and she slapped me because I laid down on her bed?
I knew physically there was no way I could fight with my sister. She was already 5 ft 11 in. My 5 ft 4 in frame wasn’t strong enough to fight her. Besides what was the point in fighting? What was I trying to prove? Who would have stood by me and said laying down on your sister’s bed wasn’t a crime?
I picked up the specs from the ground and put it back on my face. The frame was bend towards one side. I walked out to the balcony, holding my precious microbiology text book in my hand and sat down on the chair. I opened my text book to read. It felt funny to read using bend spects, I tilted my head to one side hoping, I can balance my skewed vision.
“Gosh, you are stupid Nina, how can you tilt your head to one side and expect that would change your skewed vision? Your specs is bend, not your head you moneky” I told myself. I almost laughed thinking about my own stupidity. I removed the spectacles.
Skewed vision! this was all skewed vision.
I did everything for my sisters because I had skewed vision. What I didn’t have I wanted them to have. I did it because I cared.
I used to carry Liza’s and Sally’s school bag and drop them to their school before going to my school.
Kankkai poyi I heard Amma’s voice.
How many times I got scoldings from my school headmistress for missing the morning assembly, because my sisters walked slowly and and never bothered that I would get yelled at for being late.
Kanakkai poyi
I used to save all the birthday candies I got in school for my sisters, instead of eating it.
Kanakkai poyi
I remembered each and every time I had money and never bought anything for me, instead I bought something for my sisters. I knew how I felt not having things I wanted. I didn’t want my sisters to go through that.
kanakkai poyi
Tears started to fall down my cheeks on to my text book. I didn’t bother to stop the tears. It was all kanakkai poyi. I was a loser after all. what difference did it make if I cried or laughed?

“Nina, tell me another story” sally spoke
“Aiyyah, how many stories do you want to hear in a day? What do you think? That I am a story machine?” I asked her almost feeling annoyed as I had just told her the story of the purple fox.
Sally didn’t reply. I was a bit concerned if I had hurt her feelings, so I lifted my head to see her face. She looked so sad. I felt terrible for hurting her feelings. How could I be so mean to her. I wanted to apologize. I looked my sister again. Her lips were pursed and she was trying to pull the blanket over her head.
Oh my goodness! She can’t do that. She can’t cover her face. We only cover the faces of dead people.
“Oh Sally, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I am sorry, Please forgive me” I tried to pull the blanket from her face.
She was holding on to the blanket.
“come on Sally, Don’t cover your face. chathavarudey monthaya thuni ittu moodunney(only dead people cover their face)”
I pulled the blanket from Sally’s face. I was expecting to see a sad miserable face, instead I saw a laughing face.
“Why are you laughing?” I asked her
“My God Nina, you sounded just like Amma, chathavarudey monthaya thuni ittu moodunney!!! ” Sally was laughing and imitating me.
Sally continued to laugh and I wanted to push her off the bed.
Idiot. I wanted to call her that. She doesn’t know that I am not like Amma? How dare she compare me to Amma?
I am not like Amma, I am intelligent enough to be not like Amma.
But wasn’t there a truth in what my sister spoke just now? Amma never let us cover our face with the blanket. She always said the same chathavarudey monthaya thuni ittu moodunney.
No! I almost screamed. I am not like Amma. I am me, Nina Thomas, in three years I will be Dr. Nina Thomas. I will earn my own money. I will live in my own house and I will be me, just me. Not Methran Thambi’s grand daughter, not Thomas and Mary’s daughter, not Maria’s, Liza’s and Sally’s sister. I will be me. Nina Thomas, who loves to read, who loves to cook, who loves to travel.

Three years!!! After living a life time of suffering I knew it is just a matter of time, I will be free. Beautiful tomorrows beckoned me, like a mother calling a child and tomorrow’s daughter was born.
I might sound like Amma today, but I knew tomorrow I will be a good wife and a great mother, not at all like Amma.
My tomorrows were mine alone and I knew I would make it across.
I heard a loud knocking on the door
“What are you both doing inside” I heard Amma screaming
“Nothing Amma” Sally answered
“open the door” Amma screamed
“Why Amma?” Sally asked
“I said open the door”
“ok, ok, You don’t have to scream” Sally got up and opened the door.
Amma was staring at me
“Why are you laying down on Liza’s bed?” Amma was screaming at me
“What?” I asked Amma
“How dare you lay down on Liza’s bed? You want to create unnecessary fights Ah? You know your sister doesn’t like anyone sleeping on her bed, Get up, get out of her bed and her room” Amma was pulling my hand and I pushed her away
‘You know Amma, you are the root cause of all the trouble in this family” I screamed at her
“Why are you dividing and ruling us? If my sister creates a scene because I lay down on her bed, then you should be able to tell her that we are a family. it is not a crime to sleep on your sister’s bed.”
Ptui” Amma spat on the ground. “You are talking about family? What do you know about family? Your grandmother was almost killed by her own mother in law. What family are you talking about Nina? Your pezhacha grandmother was living with a Nair. So tell me Nina, What do you know about the family?”
“You are right Amma, what would I know about family when my mother and sister ” I was just about to speak, when I noticed Sally staring at me. I couldn’t do it to her.
nee enthadi nirthiye (Why did you stop talking)?” “Come on, speak, I am telling you, speak the rest of the sentence Nina, let me see what fault of mine you have found this time” Amma was shaking my shoulders.
I pushed her away and got up.Why am I fighting for a chance to lay down on a stupid bed? Even though it was bought by my father and I am surely his daughter and by right being the second one, I should have more rights than Liza!
Enthadi nintey navu erangipoyo Have you swallowed your tongue Nina?” Amma was following me.
I had to get out. The house was suffocating me.
I opened the door and walked out. It was almost getting dark. The neon street light across the street hadn’t been switched on. Men and women holding grocery bags were hurrying home. I wondered what they would be carrying. May be rice and lentils and some fruits. Vege and meat were always bought in the morning. I could hear kids from the neighbouring house reciting poem to learn it by heart. Mrs Nagesh was washing the steps in front of her house. I knew she would wash the steps again in the morning and draw the kolam in the morning.
I started to walk. Everyone, even the cattles that belonged to my neighbour was walking towards home. I was leaving home.
I noticed the old man huddled in front of the Marwari pawn shop. His daughter was sitting next to him. They always came and sat in the same spot each evening. I looked at the child, she would probably be about 9 or 10 years old. wearing an old sleeveless dress. Her brown hair was matted, yet it was tied in a pony tail. I knew she was cold by the way she was holding her arms across her body. I looked at the old man. He was scanning the people walking by.
I took a deep breath and continued to walk. I had no idea where I was going. Any hell hole was a better place than home. But much as I tried to shake the image of the girl with matted hair and sleeveless dress from my mind, it kept coming back. I turned to look a her. She was still sitting in the same place, her arms across her chest, she was staring ahead. I looked to see what she was looking at.
She was staring at the blue shutters in front of the gold smith shop. Goldsmith always closed his shop before the sun set. What did she see there?
The gold jewellery? or was it the maker of the jewellery?
Nah, I knew where the goldsmith lived. His house was behind our house. I have seen him walking home most evenings holding his bag in one hand and the umbrella in the other hand. He was always coughing. He would walk a few feet, stop, cough while holding his chest and bending forward. After few minutes of coughing, he would straightened up and walk again.
Nah it couldn’t be the gold smith she was looking at. She was staring at the emptiness in front of her.

Was she too looking at her tomorrows? What did her tomorrows hold for her?

I knew her tomorrows were empty, like her todays. That man sitting next to her had ensured that. But mine wasn’t. No one could take my tomorrows away. I will not let them.
I turned and walked back home. I made a conscious effort to not to look at her as I passed where she was sitting. From the corner of my eyes I could still see her, in her sleeveless dress. I took a deep breath and hurried home
“Entha deshadanam kazhinjo?” I heard Amma asking
I ignored her.

Does anyone remember the gypsy woman of Indian descent who married a rich guy? Her story was featured in Femina long ago.. I think there was a picture of her sitting with her legs crossed on a chair/swing

Yesterday after I clicked the publish button, I asked myself, How did I manage to survive?
Home was a nightmare, college was a nightmare.
I remembered each and every time senior boys called me names as I walked to the hospital or to the library.
All the whistling and the cat calls.
I was never invited to any birthday parties
Never invited to any one’s home.
All the Malayalee students from Kerala, went back home together.
All the Malayalee students from Bangalore also went back together.
I didn’t belong to either group. I was all alone always.
There were so many times I wanted to quit.
Yesterday I asked myself why didn’t i ever quit?
Then I remembered this song. Each time I thought of quitting, I would go back to my room and listen to this song.
I used to imagine the wild horses coming to drag me away from my destiny ie to become a doctor. I would keep singing, wild horses couldn’t drag me away.
You can cut me deep
You can cut me down
You can cut me loose
Don’t you know its okay
You can kick and scream
You can slap my face
You can set my wheels on a high speed chase
Hey no matter what you do
Wild horses could not drag me away from you
Wild horses could not drag me away from you

You can call me a fool
You can call me blind
You can call it quits
Can’t hear a word you say

I lost my collection of music tapes when I went to Malaysia ( technically I didn’t lose them. I was told, I couldn’t take them with me because Appa bought them and it belonged to the family)
I haven’t heard this song for so long. And yesterday when I found it on you tube, all those memories came like a swift current.

I am too exhausted to type the blog, after reliving all those days..

So here is wishing all the Americans a very happy thanksgiving
Will update the blog on Monday..
Take care

I just wanted to escape.
Away from Amma, far far away from her and go to a place where she can never hurt me. I never understood why my mother never cared for me. Why? Why doesn’t she ever care for me like the way she cares for my sisters? What have I done to her?
I sat down on Liza’s bed. I could hear Amma and Sally arguing. I knew Amma was going after her for telling me about the phone call to Acha. I didn’t want Acha to come home, so he won’t hurt my sisters. But that wasn’t possible. My mother continued to date the devil. And if I don’t do something,my sisters too would become the sacrifice for the devil. What was I going to do? How can I stay at home and take protect my sisters? I can’t. I have to attend classes at the college. I have to teach Liza and Sally how to protect themselves.
“You are stupid and dumb like your sister” I heard Amma shouting to Sally
“May be the dumbness and the stupidity is inherited from you Amma” I heard Sally replying.
nee entha paranjey? Enikku vattanno nno? (What did you say? That I am mad?)”
“I didn’t say you are mad Amma” Sally sounded almost apologetic
nee onnum konam pidikkathilladi, entey kazhuthinu meley jeevan undenkil, njan parayunnathu nee ketto, nee konam pidikkathilla. Aha!”
I could actually picture Amma’s face that moment. Big bulgy eyes, every single wrinkle on her forehead would stick out and her neck would be stretched. Kind of like an Ostrich’s head.
Ottaka pakshi!!
I started to laugh. I could see the ottaka pakshi chasing me around the school property with a stick in her hand and asking me to go back to class, when all I wanted was to run away from the school and the pakshi.
I heard footsteps outside the door and I looked up. I wanted to wipe the smile off my face and keep a straight face, but Sally had already seen my face.
“Why are you smiling Nina?” She asked
“I wasn’t smiling”
“I saw” She looked in to my eyes and I didn’t feel like lying
“I was thinking about Ostrich” I replied
“What about Ostrich?” She came and sat next to me
“I was wondering why anyone would want to name a bird Camel bird?”
“Camel Bird?” Sally was staring at me
“Yeah. Camel Bird. What is Ostrich in Malayalam?” I asked Sally
ottakapakshi” Sally replied. Then she looked at me. It took a few seconds for her to realize and then she burst out laughing.
“Oh my God Nina, that is so funny. Do you know any more names like that?” She asked
I tried to think, Simham, kaduva, kiduva….nothing. I couldn’t think of anything else.
“Nah, I don’t know anymore words like that”
“Do you think all this would come true?”
“All this what? What are you talking about Sally?”
“Amma’s curses! She has been cursing me so much. My friend Kajal told me, curses always come true. What do you think Nina? Do you think I will suffer all my life? Just now I didn’t tell that Amma was mad. I was upset with her for giving Maria your saree. You know something? She didn’t even ask Acha if that saree would suit Maria. She herself took the saree from the cupboard and put in the plastic bag for Acha to take. She was lying to you. I am sorry Nina, you didn’t get to wear your favourite saree”
“Look here” I turned Sally towards me
“Lesson number 1, You must always remember, curses are nothing but loose words created just to instill fear. There is no mighty power out there, that would listen to the curses and make it come true. Do you think, if I scream and tell you that you are going to win a lottery today, it would come true?” I asked her
“No that is not possible”
“Same way, if I tell you, you will never do well, is that going to come true?”
Sally was looking at me. I could still see the fear in her eyes. I used to have the same fear. I used to be so afraid of Amma’s curses. Who would have wanted a future full of misery and suffering? ‘Present’ itself was nothing short of a nightmare and I didn’t want my precious future to be anything like my present. Amma knew that and she knew just how to use it for her advantage
Shut up now or I will make sure your future is doomed! That was her motto. No, I wasn’t going to let Amma scare Sally like this.
“Sally, Amma has been cursing me since the time I was 3 or 4 years old. If her curses worked, do you think I would be doing medicine now?” I asked.
Some where at the back of my head the sensible one was awake and she started asking questions
“Are you sure Nina, her curses didn’t work? Don’t students and lecturers still scorn and mock you each day at the college? How many of them pass rude comments when you walk by them? Does any other student go through the same harassment you go through each day at the college?”
“That is because of the stupid letter George send” I replied
“I rest my case” She went back to sleep
“Go to hell” I mumbled
“What Nina?” Sally asked”
“Don’t worry Sally, Amma’s curses won’t come true. I want to tell you something else”
“Go, close the door”
“What for?”
“Listen to me. Go and close the door”
Sally got up and closed the door. She came and sat on the bed
“What?” She asked
“Can I ask you for a favour?”
“I want you to promise me something. If Acha came for a visit and Amma isn’t home. Don’t open the door”
“Why Nina?”
“Just like that”
“Why can’t I open the door”
“You can’t”
“Why not?”
“Oh just listen to me will you? Don’t open the door and don’t ask questions. Ok?”
“Ok” Sally mumbled. I knew I didn’t say it the right way.
“Sally, Acha isn’t a good man. He is a very very very bad person”
“How do you know?” Sally was looking at me
What was I supposed to tell her?
Mysore house and the sounds of my sisters playing and cycling came rushing through my head. I shook my head pretty hard to shake the feelings away.
“I know. Ok. You just listen to me ok”
“Are you ok Nina?”
“then why is your hand shaking?”
“It is not shaking. I am just cold and tired that is why”
I laid down on the bed and pulled Liza’s blanket over my legs.
“Can I lay down with you?” Sally asked
“Sure” I moved to the side
“Can you tell me a story?” sally asked
“Yeah, remember all those times you would lay down next to me and tell me stories”
“You remember all those times?”
“Of course”
I remembered all those times. Appa and Amma would be arguing and fighting. We would hide in our room snuggled close to each other. I didn’t want my sisters to listen to Appa screaming
njan innu nintey kazhuthu arakkum ( I will slaughter you today).. I didn’t want my sisters to cry in fear and get in to more trouble. So I used to tell them stories to destract them.
I held my baby sister close to me. I knew I owed it to myself to protect her from Amma and Acha. I would do anything to protect my sisters.
“What story do you want?”
“Blue fox story”
“What colour do you want?”
“ok. Once up on a time, there was an old fox living by the edge of a small farm. The farmer had brought a new chicken coop and the fox couldn’t catch any more chickens. and the fox was hungry..
I am sure you guys know the story..? neelakurukkan?
When we were little, before I tell the story, my sisters would chose the colour of the dye in the bucket.. and now my kids do the same thing.. So we have purple fox, pink fox golden fox..etc

Yaya has to go for a speech contest (and I have butterflies in my belly just thinking about standing in front of everyone and talk about “summer holidays, how to survive 2 months of boredom”)

Will update the blog tomorrow..

Don’t know if any of you remember this song.. I sing this often and I am sure all my neighbours know this song by now…
I guess it is time I introduce you all to my all time favourite song

“Don’t worry Nina, I will always be there for you” Arjun was still holding my hand.
I wanted to take my hands away, mainly because I didn’t want Beautiful eyes to come and see us holding hands. I tried to wriggle my hand slowly from his grasp.
“I admire your mother NIna. She is so Brave. You guys are so lucky to have got such a wonderful mother” Arjun spoke.
I pulled my hand from his grasp. My reaction was too quick.
Arjun looked stunned
“Why? What happened? Is Princy here?” Arjun turned to look, to see if Princy had come for a spot check at the canteen.
“I thought I saw someone looking like Princy walking by” I lied
“Must be one of the seniors”
“Must be” I nodded
“so what is your plan for the day?”
“Go home,sleep and then study Patho and Micro”
“There is a good movie going on”
“Which one?”
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrel”
“Who is acting?”
“Michael Caine and Steve Martin, Do you want to go? We can go for the evening show”
“Nah, my mom won’t allow”
“Why not?”
“She doesn’t allow us to go out at night”
“But you are with me”
“Don’t worry, I will talk to her, she will listen to me”
“It is ok Arjun. Besides I want to prepare for the exams”
” I will pick you up at 6, we will have a bite at Mac’s and then go for the movie”
“No Arjun, I can’t”
“Arey Bhaiyya Where is the egg bhaji? Have you gone to the market to buy the hen or what?” Arjun shouted, looking at the counter
“Almost Ready boss” Operator shouted from the kitchen.
“Almost, that means another 1 hour” Arjun whispered to me. I watched him check his watch.
“Do you really want to eat the egg bhaji? May be we will just leave. Let him go to hell. He said 15 minutes and it is already 30 minutes”
“But he is making it Arjun”
“Yeah, and taking a long time”
“Of course Arjun, it is special order, He has to boil the egg, make the batter, heat the oil, dip the egg in the batter and deep fry it. It takes time”
“Why are you supporting him?”
“I am not supporting him. I am telling you the truth”
“Come let us go. I will drop you home” Arjun got up
I saw the canteen operator opening the curtain and bringing the Bhaji. Arjun turned to leave and he too noticed the canteen operator walking towards us
“Sorry boss, gas got over. I had to change the cylinder” Operator spoke to Arjun
“That is not my problem” Arjun mumbled
Operator looked at Arjun and at me
“It is ok bhaiyya, thank you for the Bhaji” I reached my hand to get the plate from his hand.
I looked at the 4 steaming hot bhaji served with a small bowl of tomato sauce and mint chutney. I suddenly didn’t feel like eating it anymore. I hated the Bhaji, I hated Arjun.
He was really mean to the canteen operator. I hated mean people. If the operator had enough resources, he would have gone to a medical college and studied to become a doctor. Instead he ended up serving food to those who had the resources. But that didn’t give anyone any right to be mean.
“What are you waiting for?” Arjun was looking at the untouched egg bahjis
“It is hot Arjun”
“Why are you screaming at me?”
“I didn’t scream at you. You are being unreasonable”
“Me unreasonable? After all I have done?”
I knew where he was heading. 25000 rupees was written nice and bold in the account of obligations. All it took was 10 days. My mother just had to wait 10 bloody days for me to come back. She had no business to go to Arjun’s house and borrow the money.
I didn’t reply. Arjun was staring at me and I knew he was waiting for me to apologize. I was sick and tired of apologizing.
Arjun pushed the chair backwards, took his lab coat and key from the table and walked out.
“Go to hell” I muttered. But he was already out of earshot.
Bhaiyya, can you pack this for me? I will eat in the hostel” I took the plate and walked to the counter.
“Sure Madam” He was looking at me and may be he understood not to ask me any questions. I took the parcel from him and walked back to my hostel.
I just wanted to see Beautiful Eyes. I thought he would come to the Airport to pick me up. He didn’t and now I had no idea where he was. I was angry with him too. He and the stupid war he was fighting.
“How was the test Ma’am? One of the Junior girl sitting outside and studying asked
“Pretty good” I answered
“Have you seen Gangamma?” I asked her
“She was here just a few minutes ago. I think She went to the mess”
“Oh ok. Can you do me a favour?”
“Sure ma’am”
“give this to Gangamma” I passed the egg bhaji parcel to her and walked to my room.
I checked the clock. In about 20 minutes all the girls in my class would come back from the exam hall and discuss the questions that were asked for the test. I felt such a failure for handing in an empty sheet. I knew even the worst student would have written at least one answer. I took my bag, packed my patho and micro text books and walked out.
“Going home Ma’am” The same junior I spoke to earlier was still sitting outside
“you are so lucky ma’am. You can at least eat some nice home cooked meals” She spoke sadly
“hmm” I mumbled. If only she knew the truth

When I reached back home, the house looked normal and neat. My bags and all the stuff I brought was no where in the living room. Amma was in the kitchen and she came out to see who was at the door. She was wearing one of the sarees I bought from Dubai.
“Amma, where is all the stuff?” I asked
“I kept everything inside”
“I told you not to touch it Amma”
Aiyyah Nina, You want me to leave everything in the living room? What if anyone comes for a visit”
Who is going to visit us? I thought of asking her. We have been exiled from both sides of the family and even our own family members have gone exile. So who was there to visit? But I didn’t want a fight.
“Where did you keep all the stuff?”
“In the cup board”
I walked in to Liza’s room and opened the Godrej cupboard. I had to return the 25000 rs!
“I was thinking, may be you should give this saree to Arjun’s mother” Amma spoke pointing to the saree she was wearing
“Then why are you wearing it?”
“Everyone does this”
“Does what?”
“Remember Reena? Our neighbour down the road in Kottyayam? She used to wear all the sarees her husband brought from Dubai at least once before she gave it to her relatives.”
“How can you be like this Amma? Why can’t you be decent? Why do you have to wear it, if you have to give it to someone?”
Ah athangana.. You won’t understand” Amma shook her head
“Where did you keep my saree Amma?” I wanted to see if any of my blouse would suit that saree.
“It is in the cup board Nina”
“Where in the cup board Amma”
“All the sarees are in there” Amma pointed to the right side of the cup board. There was only three sarees there
“Where is the white saree?”
“Which one”
“There is only one white saree and I told you before I went, not to touch it. Where is it?”
“Oh that one, I gave it to Maria “
“What do you mean Amma?”
“Oh Nina, that colour suits Maria better you, even Acha said the same”
“Acha? Acha was here? Why was he here?” I screamed
“Stop screaming Nina” Amma was yelling
“Why was Acha here?” I screamed even more louder.
“Acha was here to collect the stuff Appa send for Maria” Amma yelled
“Appa send for Maria?”
“Yah. The lunch box and the sarees and the hand bag Appa send for Maria”
I thought I was dreaming. I couldn’t believe what my mother was talking. Appa didn’t send any damn thing. I bought it. In stead of spending all the money and buy things I wanted, I decided to share the money he gave me with my sisters and buy them all something.
“Amma, I told you, take any saree, but leave the white one for me. Why did you give my saree to Maria and how did Acha know I went to Duabi?”
“Amma,phoned Acha and asked him to come and collect the stuff for Maria” Sally spoke. I turned to look at her. She was standing at the door way and watching us.
“Shut up” Amma yelled at her
“Sally, did you hear me telling Amma not to take the white colour saree?” I asked her.
She nodded her head
“Nina, you are wearing a lab coat all the time. Who is going to notice the saree you are wearing underneath your coat? Maria is working in a big company, She needs good sarees. Everything is not always about you Nina” Amma tried to explain.
All I wanted was one single saree and even that I was not entitled to. Even that went to Maria because she was older and works in a big company.
It didn’t matter what I wanted.
I was just a useless cotter pin that was bend and split just to hold this damn family together. Who the hell cared for the damn cotter pin?

“Why didn’t you ever tell me?” Arjun asked as we walked to the canteen
“Tell you what?”
“Everything Nina, you never told me anything. Why?”
Why? What should I answer? Besides I didn’t know what Amma told Arjun
“You should have told me Nina”
I should have. I could have. It is so easy for everyone to blame me. I had enough of people blaming me for everything. If it was something that I could share with another person, then I would have. But I couldn’t. There was nothing normal about my family and I didn’t want anyone’s sympathy. But more than all I was afraid I would be judged for the sins of my family. I didn’t want to be judged. I wasn’t Amma or Appa or Maria or Liza or Sally. I was Nina. I was different from them. I couldn’t be like them.
“Arjun, I am tired. I haven’t slept since I came back from Dubai. I will speak to you later” I started to walk towards my hostel
“Run away Nina, keep running away”
“What do you mean?”
“How long are you going to run away like this?”
“Arjun, I am not running away. I am just tired”
“Yeah” He sounded sarcastic.
May be it was the tone of his voice. May be because I never ran away from my problems, instead of turning left towards my hostel, I kept walking towards the canteen. I just wanted to show Arjun that I don’t run away from my problems.
“What do you want to drink?” Arjun asked
” Do you want egg Bhaji?”
“They don’t make egg bhaji in the afternoon”
“Nina, I didn’t ask you if they make egg Bhaji in the afternoon. I asked if you would like to eat egg bhaji”
“But they don’t make egg bhaji in the afternoon”
I was getting so mad at Arjun. Can’t he understand plain simple English? How many times do I have to repeat the same thing before he gets it in his dumb head?
“Yes or no?” It was Arjun’s turn get mad.
He was yelling at me? How dare he? What does he think of himself? Why am I getting yelled at when all I did was to tell him that they don’t make egg bahji in the afternoon? I was getting hopping mad.
But there was something that made me stop and think. What just happened between me and Arjun was very familiar. It almost felt like deja vu, but in this case it wasn’t deja vu, it was history repeating all over again.
How many times has my mother answered my father’s simple questions exactly the way I just did? How many times have I wondered why can’t my mother say a simple yes or no for a simple question? How many times have I thought my mother could have avoided all those silly fights my parents had if she just shut her mouth and not gave her opinions?
But I wasn’t Amma. I knew the canteen operator never made egg bhaji in the afternoon. If he doesn’t understand that, then fine, let him go and find it himself.
“Yes, I would like a plate of Egg Bhaji” I hissed.
Without another word Arjun walked to the counter and I saw him talking to the operator. I saw the operator nodding his head and saying something.
I knew the operator was telling Arjun that they don’t make egg bhaji for lunch. I knew I was right. Egg Bhaji was an evening snack and it was always made at 4.30 in the evening. I have never seen the canteen operator serving egg Bahji for lunch.
Arjun came back and sat in front of me.
“so?” I looked at Arjun victoriously and asked. Victory never tasted this sweet.
“So?” He was looking at me.
“Do they serve egg bhaji in the afternoon?”
“Yeah” Arjun shrugged his shoulder. He started to play with his bike key and twirl it on the table.
Yeah? Yeah What? Yeah, you were right Nina, they don’t serve egg bhaji in the afternoon? Yeah I am sorry Nina for yelling at you?
I wasn’t going to let it go that easy. He was screaming at me for no fault of mine. I had every intention to rub my victory deep in to his bruised ego.
“I told you they don’t make egg bhaji in the afternoon, didn’t I?”
“Stop chewing my brain Nina, he is making the egg bhaji for you” Arjun snapped.
“You heard me”
I turned my head and looked inside the canteen kitchen. The curtain separating the canteen kitchen from the counter was closed and I couldn’t see anything.
“What did you say?”
“I said he is making egg bhaji for you”
“He is making egg bhaji right now?” I asked Arjun
“How many times do I have to tell you that?” Arjun snapped.
I thought of telling him, may be it was yesterday’s left over egg bhaji and he was warming it up for me. There was no way he could have made egg bahi now. It takes 15 minutes to boil an egg!
I watched the canteen operator bringing our tea.
“You make egg bhaji in the afternoon?” I asked him. I had to know. I didn’t want to eat yesterday’s egg bhaji.
“Special order Ma’am” Operator answered
“Special order?”
“Only for Arjun sir ma’am. We don’t usually make it in the afternoon. But because Arjun sir asked for it, we are making it for you ma’am. He knows how much you love to eat it. You are very lucky ma’am” Operator tapped Arjun’s shoulder and went back.
Arjun was looking at me. I didn’t know what made me feel so guilty.
Was it because I was simply wrong?
Was it because I was acting like my mother?
Was it because he cared for me so much and walked out of the exam hall with me?
Was it because the canteen operator told me how lucky I was to have got a guy who knew how much I loved egg bhaji and ordered it for me in the afternoon?
Or was it because I was two timing him?
I reached across the table and held his hand
“Arjun I am sorry”

PS:Edited the time disparity!!