Letters

When I talked about my room in the last post, this was something I wanted to write, but couldn’t do it last week.

It was the second half of my pre clinical subjects. A year and half after I joined the MBBS program. After this, you start clinical subjects. For me, this was the one semester I wanted to get it over with because this was the last time I was ever going to do Anatomy. I aced in Biochem and Physiology. I hated anatomy.

We were having study holidays.That particular morning one of the hostel mates bought sabarjilli from the local market and they were all laughing at me when I said we call it sabarjilli in Malayalam. Come to think of it, why would anyone call pear sabarjilli?

Later that morning,some of the students decided to hike up a small hill nearby to go to a temple and I joined them. BE had gone back to his place because he wanted to attend the Sekrenyi festival. In those days telephone calls were very expensive and  he had to pretend to be my father when he called the hostel in order to avoid suspicion, which was not easy with his very typical Naga accent. So he didn’t call me from his home that often. He was only away for a couple of weeks and I was busy studying for my exams.

I had worn a navy blue skirt(from my guiding days) and a light blue top that day. I didn’t go inside the temple. I sat outside and watched the monkeys making a fool of themselves. We came back in time for lunch.

As I entered the hostel foyer, I noticed everyone was looking at me. It was really strange. Then I noticed my room mate was whispering something to the group I was with and I knew there was something wrong. Then I noticed one of the temple trip group member opening the letter she was given by my room mate and I went to her and practically snatched the letter from her hand. I remember the whole world coming to a standstill. I didn’t read the whole letter. I couldn’t.

The first few lines that I read said that I was a famous call girl in Bangalore and that I charge by the hour and  have a large clientele.

I don’t remember how I got back to my room. I remember one of the lecturers coming and giving me a Valium injection. My anatomy uniexam was next morning. I wrote that exam without studying. I couldn’t open my eyes let alone study. That was what George wanted. I think it was a pay back for escaping when he came to visit me. He somehow expected that by sending an anonymous letter to every single student, lecturer, even the cleaning ladies that I will not write my exam and will fail and perhaps quit medicine.

4 days after the letter was received, my mother and George came to visit me at the hostel. Of course his highness wanted to see it for himself how his little plan affected me. I showed the letter to my mother and told her to tell George that I know it is he who sent it. My mother took George’s side.. enthoru nalla manussyan aa..ninakku vatta kind of dialogue she said. I didn’t go out of the hostel to see George. That was the second last time I ever saw him.

I passed.

George did send another batch of letters a week after college reopened. Amma would have let him know that I passed..By then I had learned to play his game. I paid the postman extra money and told him to let me know if there was another bulk mail sent out to the college, I should be told. (this was also reinforced by the classmate who was not staying in the campus) So when the next lot of letters came, my classmate and the postman collected every single one of the letters and burned it.

I had a mother, a father, an older sister and two younger sisters at that time and I had no one to lean on. I survived because I felt if I gave up, then George  would have won.

I was always alone..and that was the hardest truth to accept.

This was my first room at the medical college hostel. Bear with me, somehow the blog photo upload keeps inverting the image and I just don’t have the time to figure out why it is doing it..

I went back to the medical college campus after 23 years. So much has changed.

But what I went through.. that has scarred me for life.

So, imagine this

17 year old girl from Kottayam who had barely two years of education in English, who didn’t speak a word of English and who came from the most screwed up family. I had nothing that I could lean on to.

When every single female student had their mother with them (to be honest, most of them had their father with them, but the fathers went back after a day or two), I was abandoned there by my oldest sister who was tasked to  stay with me for a week and protect me from ragging.

I learned there were only two options. Swim or sink and I chose to swim. But it was  tortuous. It was such a horrible feeling to be 17 and all alone.

I didn’t even have clothes that I liked. My sister bought my sarees and I hated them. I was not even asked what kind of sarees I like to wear. Two years go, I wanted to wear a saree for Yaya’s graduation. I didn’t own a saree (except for the one BE and I bought together and I didn’t want to wear it) and I asked my best friend to help me buy a saree when he went to India  for a meeting. He bought a saree and couriered it to me. It was a beautiful midnight blue plain saree with a golden border. Even he knew I don’t like printed sarees.

Only I had the dubious record of having my virginity keepers (mother and my oldest sister) coming over to snoop and go through my personal stuff while I was at the hospital doing rounds or attending classes. My oldest sister even took photo negatives from my room, which I assume she would have taken to the studio to take copies to find out who I was with. All that trouble she went through to ensure my virginity.. sigh

Once when I escaped from  the campus because I was told that George was coming to visit me, my sister wrote to the Principal ( a very legalese sounding letter) and the Principal up on receiving the letter, came to my lecture hall and screamed at me in front of 150 students and called me a whore. (I already had a bad reputation, so this name calling episode was just the icing on the cake) My sister even gave a sample signature, so the college could verify the authenticity of any leave applications I submited. It took me weeks of practice for me to be able to forge her signature. I also had help from friends in Kottayam who  sent telegrams that purportedly said that ;grandfather seriously ill, start immediately’ if I really needed to escape.

This was the room that taught me that I am capable of surviving against all odds and finding love.. that there is guy who can love me for who I am not for the family I came from.. This was the room, where I would sit by the window and wait patiently for my room mates to go to bed and then flick the light switch three times to let Beautiful Eyes know that it is safe to come over and bring me food. He used to go to the Dhabas in the highways and would often bring food for me. I can still remember how soft his hands were when he passed the parcel to me through the window.

This was the room that I hid most days to escape from the harshness of restrictive education that only wanted and encouraged students that conformed. Some of the cleaners were really a pain in the butt. I remember once,I had given the cleaner a letter to post and my mother had come for inspection that day and the cleaner gave my letter to my mother instead of giving it to the postman. She must have also been entrusted to protect my virginity by my family. I remember how I felt that day.. I felt so alone..that even the cleaner felt it was right to betray me. Funnily enough, that letter was addressed to my maternal grandmother. Except for my immediate family, all letters from others were sent C/o to a classmate who didn’t stay at the hostel.  Any letter that I wanted to send after that day was given to my classmate who posted it for me. It was also the same classmate who helped me collect all the letters the college sent to my parents, often it was my lack of attendance or the zeros I collected for all the class tests. I used to sign it on behalf of my oldest sister/mother and gave it back to my classmate who would then help me by giving it to the postman to deliver it back to the college. It was always worrying that I would be caught if someone had checked the postage seal.. and I would wait anxiously for the next bomb explosion followed by my suspension. It was a stressful period.

Even though it was a horrible time in a lot of ways, I have a lot of good memories. I was loved !

Simple things like hugging me when my world was falling apart.. singing my favourite song to cheer me up, eating spicy chilli bhaji with me because I like spicy food, eating Parle G biscuits after a long trek .. going for long rides because there was nothing I liked as much as resting my chin on his shoulder and the assurance that this is the guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with… all those books I read.. and actually passing the exams without studying.. it all happened when I stayed  in that room. I learned that there was nothing that can stop me from doing what I want to do. I learned to live and love.

PS: I think you didn’t understand why I don’t want anything to do with you. Every time I have to write about you, I go through such enormous pain because you have done everything possible to hurt me and are continuing to do so. We shared a womb and a miserable childhood. Other than that I have nothing to do with you. First you contacted my child knowing very well that I protected her from you all these years. Now you have contacted my children’s father. I am not sure what game you are playing, but I am not willing to play your games.  Please stop.

Leicester

I got back home around 10 p.m. from India and both my kids were tired and sleepy. However, on the dining table a place was set for me and there were Quiche ( my youngest baked it), French fries and a pot of tea.

Then my son opened the fridge and took a packet of Red Leicester cheese and told me

“Mom, I know you wouldn’t had any cheese while you were in India and so I bought your favourite Red Leicester cheese for you”

When I lived in England, I used to buy any cheese that was on sale and once managed to buy red Leicester. I loved it. I have never had them after that until a couple of months ago, I found it at Aldi’s. My son was with me that day and as I bought it, I told him how much I loved Red Leicester.

There is no Aldi where I stay. The nearest one is in next suburb and for my son to have gone to Aldi’s to buy Red Leicester, it meant, he took the bus, walked to the shopping mall, bought the cheese and then walked back to the bus stop and took another bus home.  But he did that for me.

It is always the little things that make me the happiest person on earth..

Oh the dramas

My life is full of dramas, but the events of the past two weeks would win the top prize for this year.

So, I went to India for a short trip for three reasons

  1. I had a work assignment
  2. My best friend is in  India on an assignment and I wanted to see him
  3. My mother turned 80 and although I have no love for her, I felt it is still my duty to see her as 80th birthday is supposed to be a major milestone in a person’s life.(not sure why)

Everything was going according to plan. Before, I left my friend had told me that he will be sending his driver to pick me up from the airport and when I asked him how will I recognize the driver, he replied that the driver will be standing there naked. So, when I came out of the airport, I looked for the naked driver.. couldn’t find him.  I sort of expected my friend to give the driver a sign which would have something like “welcome home, Pain in the Butt” and as I scanned the people standing at the waiting area, I noticed someone  holding a coffee cup near his mouth in attempt to hide his face. My friend assumed erroneously that I wouldn’t recognize him and since I have known him for a very long time the chances of me not recognizing him even though he was incognito was pretty slim. So round 1, I won.

Then we went to his house, he made me Chaya, just the way I like it and we talked till his morning alarm started to ring at 6.30 a.m. I had a meeting at 9 and he had to be at work at 8.30 and so we thought we will sleep for 1 hour and will go for brekky at  7.45 a.m. which we did.

The next few days, I finished what I came for and my friend had to go to Beijing for a meeting. Which gave me three days of free time and I thought I would go and see my mother. So, I phoned my mother. I was suffering from a serious case of sleep deprivation when I made the call.

I said Amma this is me and I was showered with a volley of insults. It took me a little while to realize I wasn’t talking to my mother, but my sister younger to me. I assumed it is her, because she is the only one who can rant like a lunatic.

So, the gist of the matter is, I am not allowed to call my mother, because I write about her in this blog. What puzzles me the most is, I never asked my sisters to read this blog. They are nosey and want to know what I am up to and they check my blog everyday and then they get agitated. The simple solution for their problem would be not to read the blog.I have not had any contact with them, nor am I interested in wanting to find out. The ranting lunatic had in fact checked my Linkedin account three weeks ago. It is not rocket science to find out who checked your profile on LinkedIn because LinkedIn will tell you who checked your profile. It is like they just won’t leave me alone.

Years ago, when my maternal grandmother went to stay with her youngest son, he and his family wouldn’t let us see our grandmother. This is a common occurrence in our family and I was sort of expecting it to happen one of these days. You know, the keepers of the aged get the free ride to be bullies and impose control and their version of what is right and wrong. As I have no intention of having anything to do with my mother, I had hoped that with this trip to India, I could wash off my hands and live happily ever after. I knew the keepers of the aged(aka as my sisters) in their quest for justice for their aged mother wouldn’t let me know when she dies. So, I know I wouldn’t be attending the funeral when that day arrives. So, technically this was the last visit I was going to make to visit my mother and since I was told I can’t se her anymore there is nothing much I could do, but to consider that she is no more and go on with my life.

My friend stays in a service apartment in Bangalore and the only things he had in the kitchen were water, tea and sugar. I wanted to cook something for him when he came back from Beijing and it was a struggle. I bought a packet of meat masala powder and cooked motta perattal, and prawn curry and served it with ready made parathas.. I am pretty sure both the dishes tasted exactly the same, again there was nothing much I could do.

I managed to find the Chef who used to work at the old Rice Bowl. He was so happy to see me after 23 years. I had a Tibetan patient and the Chef would send food for me and the patient. He also taught me how to cook Indo-Chinese dishes before I left India.

I trekked some of the hills that Beautiful Eyes and I used to climb. I had hoped to build a roadside memorial for him and I was sure I would be able to find the spot where he had the accident. At that time, the highway was a single lane and not any more. Everything has changed and I couldn’t find the spot. So no roadside memorial.

I bought a Kasavu mundu for my son and three Ikat sarees. (one for Yaya, one for Baby and one for the girl my son will bring home one day) I have always loved handwoven Ikat sarees and I wanted my kids to have one as I am pretty sure a decade from now, there won’t be any more Ikat weavers in India.

As for the sparring my friend and I are known to do and keep a score, except for the first evening where I recognized him, I lost the rest of the games. I didn’t know the capital of Liberia, where Moldova is located etc. I said the hills I trekked were exactly the same as the ones found in Sholay movie..which is grammatically incorrect as they can be similar, not same.

Although I didn’t get to see my mother, I had a really good holiday. I ate a lot, met people who played a huge role in making me who I am and managed to spend time with my best friend.

 

 

Many ways

My son is beginning to get stressed. Grade 12.. this is it.. the events this year will play a major role in his life. The past few days the weather here is extremely hot and I make it a point to sit outside with the kids at night. At the moment, Venus is visible in the South West sky and I like watching the stars and talking to the kids while enjoying a bit of breeze.

“Mom, what if I don’t pass IB exams?” He asked me this evening.

I told him ” sky wouldn’t fall if you fail the IB exams. You can go to TAFE, get a diploma, use that and go to Uni and get a degree then use that degree and go and do your masters. There are many paths you can follow that will take you to your final destination. Your job is to give your best shot and that is it.”

He looked a bit relieved. And I know I will be repeating this a few more times.

Seriously though, I remember the stress I used to be under. “oru varsham povum” ( you will lose a year) that was the only thing that mattered. It was something worst than dying. People used  fake their birth certificates at the time of applying for jobs, in order to gain an extra year of work and therefor more money.

I wish someone had told me when I was young that the sky wouldn’t fall if you didn’t follow the standard format

 

Gosh

I moved my residence twice, refused to give the forwarding address to the realtor. Changed my house telephone number and pays for having it unlisted. I am not part of any mallu organization. I do not speak to Mallu friends who knew me here for fear of my older sister contacting them to find me. I walked away from every support network I had here including my relatives.

I have gone to all these extent because I really do not want anything to do with my sisters.

There came a point where I had to make a choice. I just couldn’t go through the theatrics any more.

I have my share of struggles, but that is ok for I am capable of handling it. I like my life the way it is. I get to choose who I want to talk to and what I want to do with my life. I also get to choose how I raise my kids. I get to decide what I consider as my success or my failures. I am the captain of my ship and I sail wherever I want to go.

I was so angry when my sister attempted to contact Yaya. First of all she was undermining my authority. I guess she was trying to show me that she doesn’t give a fig for my feelings, after all she was speaking to her niece!. Now that Yaya is 18, I will not tell her not to talk to my sisters, I have to let her make those choices even though I will not be happy.. I hope she wouldn’t talk to her aunt because my child has no idea how vindictive and vengeful my older sister can be. Or how my sister will play her manipulative games and turn my child against me.

I have been so happy and peaceful. I love the house where I live, we have so much of laughter and fun.. I have a beautiful garden… and yet I am beginning to feel the need to take my kids and run.. some where far away from my family.. My family is a like jelly fish..and I keep cutting the tentacles and it keeps growing. It is a nightmare that I can’t just seem to escape.

 

Let it go

My oldest sister attempted to video chat with my daughter using a fake name couple of days ago.

I find her attitude wrong for a number of reasons.

First, Yaya is alone at the place where she is staying and imagine a stranger attempting to video chat with you on FB. She was so worked up that she called me immediately and was in tears. My sister had absolutely no right to scare my daughter.

Second, My sister has total disregard for my feelings, I walked away from my family and clearly informed my siblings to leave my children alone.

Let me explain why I walked away.

On the first day of school (three days ago), my son had to stay back at school to mentor the new students. He was hungry and bought a snack pack of Shawarma from a Lebanese store nearby. When he came home, he called his younger sister and gave her half of the snack pack. He even made sure that her half had lamb(her favourite, while he likes chicken) and no spicy sauce(she doesn’t like to eat really spicy food unlike her brother)

With my sisters, this will never happen. My oldest sister sent the link of this blog to my ex-husband while we were in the middle of our messy divorce. There will never be a day where my sisters and I will ever do anything good for each other. My youngest sister wrote to me that I must remember when I am on my begging knees that she will be there. Which was in a way a good thing because I knew I could never ever be on my begging knee. My sister younger to me wrote that I was a failure and should seriously consider my right to a breath.. as it was such a colossal waste. In other words, she felt it would be better for everyone if I just stopped breathing.

I have one chance to raise my children well and I will go to the end of the world to make sure that I protect my children from my family. My kids love each other and care for each other. I also have a good relationship with them.

What my sisters forget is that, I am my children’s mother. They simply can’t do things without my permission  I sent my daughter to my sister’s house when she was 4 years old and she came back with blonde hair. My sister bleached and dyed my daughter’s hair without even bothering to ask my permission. What is even more worst is that, she didn’t even do a dye allergy test. How dare she put my child under so much of risk? My daughter was not a play thing. My younger sister and my mother had taken Yaya for a haircut without telling me. Again, I am her mother, I should have some say about my child.

My oldest sister might have a short memory, otherwise she would have remembered not opening the door on a Christmas morning when Yaya visited her. Unfortunately, Yaya has even better memory than me. Do you think she will forget it?

I can give so many reasons why I will not allow my children any contact with my family. My family think that  I am using my kids as a mean in our fights. Which is not what I am doing. I am protecting my children from the vengefulness my sisters and I dish on each other in liberal doses. That is not what family is supposed to do and there is no way we will ever have a day where we will treat each other with respect. I had dreamt of a happy family and I have learned to accept that it will not happen.

It would have been great if my children could experience the love and care of their own family. It is not possible with my sisters or my mother and I have accepted that. I have friends who have stepped in and play the roles of aunties, uncles and grand parents. Every year, one of my friends would buy a ticket to Sydney for my son, so our sons can visit her mother who lives in a farm near Sydney and spend time with her. The grandmother dots on my son and they have so much fun together.

My sister younger to me had threatened me and told me that I must ensure that I am in the good books of my cousin in Sabah because in the event anything happened to me, my children will need to be looked after by my cousin..in other words my sister wouldn’t be looking after my kids. I never asked any of my sisters to look after my kids and I will never. My best friend has full custody of my kids if anything ever happened to me and in three years when my youngest turns 18, Yaya will get full custody of her siblings. I am glad my sister sent that email, because it made me evaluate my financial position and today, I probably am the most insured mother among all my friends.

As I said many times, please leave my children alone. I am totally capable of raising them and they have all the love they need.

Leave my children alone. Let it go.

 

Hmm

A friend committed suicide.

I stayed away from the blog the past few days hoping that my anger will subside.

But it hasn’t.

I am still angry.

If there is one thing I do know, it is despair. I have been there.. in the throes of despair.. so many times.

Most of my battles, I fought alone. Apart from my kids, I don’t even have any family. But there was one thing I never forgot, that even in the darkest moment, even when I felt there was no point in taking another breath..that I chose to have three kids and they don’t deserve the heartache of the knowledge that their mother took her own life.

My friend’s son is in grade 12 this year. A bright intelligent boy and the past few days he has been drunk..to the point of exhaustion.Last year, he wanted to go to Caltech to study. This year, he hasn’t stopped crying.

Because she was a single mom, her son has no where to go. All of a sudden he is an orphan. I have offered a place for him to stay. But I know I can’t fill the void in his life, especially at this crucial period of his life.

As I have always written what I really felt in this blog and I know what I am going to write next is going to piss many of you. I don’t care.

My friend was incredibly selfish. Trust me, I know how life can wear you down. But she forgot, her son didn’t ask to be born. She made that choice and she made the choice to abandon him when he needed her the most.

If you are depressed, or if you feel like giving up the fight

First . you are not alone. There are so many people who love you and care for you.

Go to a doctor, ask for help. Call one of those helplines.. Do something.

Taking your life is not the solution to your problems.

 

Resolutions

I didn’t make any resolutions this new year, because I felt I don’t need to. There is nothing in my life that I want to change. There is nothing I want more than what I already have. I like who I am and what I have and where I reached.

I saw this quote on FB and it occurred to me that this is pretty much my credo.

The journey to this point of knowing that I am absolutely fabulous(love that show) the way I am was not easy. But I got here and it feels wonderful.

 

 

Little women

Few days ago, when I came back from work, Yaya was vacuuming the living room, my son was in the pergola hanging the laundry and my youngest was in the kitchen cooking dinner. They are 18, soon to be 17 and 15 years old respectively.

I had always dreamt of a house like the little women ( L.M Alcott) More so because I never did any work in my mother’s home. She didn’t want me to help her and even if I tried to help her, she had a million complaints and found fault in every little thing.

If I wanted to complain, I could find a million reason too.. Yaya had forgotten to dust first before vacuuming, my son had not turned to socks right-side out and baby should have checked if the yeast was alive by proofing it before making the bread dough. (I think she used really hot water that killed the yeast while making the dough)

I didn’t complain because I am really grateful for every little help my children give. I am not expecting them to be me or like me. They are individuals with their own personalities and when they make a mistake, they learn from it. Earth won’t stop spinning just because the TV had dust on it or the socks were not as clean as I like them to be..We ate  hard bread rolls for dinner and my youngest now knows the need to proof the yeast.  And because the house work was done by the time I got back home, we had time to go out for a movie and ice cream.

It is a lot better not to complain when your children help you with chores.