Over the years, I watched silently as everyone around me changed and I always thought, I am the same person and that I will never change. I didn’t want to be like Maria, who don’t even call now a days. We didn’t matter to her anymore. I wanted to be the one who took care of her mother and sisters.
Somehow something changed the moment I submitted the botany practical answer sheets.
There is something magical about pre-degree exams, that changes you inside. The person who went to BCM college and the person who came out of BCM college after 2 years were two different people and the nuns had nothing to do with the metamorphosis.
The Nina I knew, would have never left her mother in the college and walked home alone. The Nina I knew would have never yelled at a stranger (and most likely he is waiting for me with a bottle of acid in the name of vengeance). More than all of that, I suddenly felt, I could do what I wanted to do. I was no longer afraid of my own dreams. I felt an inner strength that I never known before. After all I am now, Nina Thomas-Pre degree..who would soon be Dr. Nina Thomas MBBS( xyz,asdf etc). I was ready for all the battles that lay ahead of me.
When Amma came in the evening, she spoke
“I spoke to someone and he suggested that you write the Vellore CMC entrance exam as there are reservations for Christians.You just have to write an extra paper on bible, which I am sure, no one knows more than you do. Tomorrow we will go and meet the bishop and get a recommendation letter from him. “
I thought of asking her, if that ‘someone’ gave Maria’s new address? I thought of asking her, if that someone finally came back from Delhi? But then again I knew my mother, she was master of excuses and lies.
“I am not writing an exam on bible Amma!”
“Because I don’t want to”
“You think you are so intelligent ah? You think you can pass the entrance just like that ah? People write the exams 5 to 6 times, before they pass! Even Shiny the top scorer in your school two years ago, she still hasn’t passed the entrance exam and is doing B.Sc in CMS college. Do you know why I took half day leave and came to your college today? Because I care for you.!
I came to your college today itself, so I can beg your principal to give you admission for B.Sc. I know you are going to get motta(zero marks) for your pre-degree anyway!. Don’t think I have not watched you all these days. I know how much you have studied. Even your French teacher said that you can’t speak a word of French”
“True Amma, absolutely true. My father doesn’t speak French, my mother doesn’t speak French, Actually speaking, no one in my family speaks French. But somehow my mother and older sister thought it is better for me to learn French. I wonder why? I never said I wanted to study French. You made me study that. I would have done better,if I studied Malayalam or Hindi as my second language”
“How dare you speak to me like that Nina?”
“Truth hurts eh?”
Amma lifted her hand to strike me and I grabbed it and held it forcefully
“Don’t you raise your hand on me. Don’t you ever raise your hand on me Amma. I have listened to all your commands till now. It is my life Amma and I will live the way I want to” I pushed her hand away.
Amma was just about to open her mouth to curse me. I knew she was just about to say
‘Nee orikkalum konam pidikkathilla(you will never do well in your life!)’
“Don’t Amma, don’t waste your energy to curse me. Your curses don’t work. My father would have died miserably years ago, if your curses had any effect. So don’t bother.” I wanted to add a little bit more spice so I told her
“By the way, I studied that ribs cover the heart and lungs, so if you hit your chest, it will only hurt the muscles, so don’t bother doing that stunt either!”
I walked back to my room thinking My goodness, what is happening to me? I wasn’t sure anymore.
Monday morning, I had nothing to do at home. No classes to bunk, no practicals to copy, no nothing to do. I was really bored. I might as well go to Chengannur. I got ready and locked the house. As I walked out of the house to the main road, I started to feel a bit scared. I looked around for the guy wearing mundu. As I looked around I spotted a group of women walking towards me on the road. I thought perhaps the guy in mundu will forget my face and won’t recognize me in the crowd, so I walked behind the group of women, who were on their way to the fields near the railway station to cut grass. There were 5 of them and they wore colourful sarong and covered their bosom with a thorthu. All of them had a cane basket on one hand and a sickle on the other hand. I knew I am safe, with them next to me.
They were chewing tobacco and talking loudly. Every few minute one of them would stop, put two fingers on her lips and spit the tobacco out. I walked carefully dodging the flying spit. when we reached the lawyers offices I saw one of them wearing a red blouse nudging the lady next to her with her shoulder and whispering “lawyereman!!” (the lawyer boss!)
I overheard the other one asking
“Is he the one?” and pointing to the lawyer who was standing near the door and speaking to someone. The woman wearing the red blouse started to giggle, she looked down and started to sway her body and walk. I looked at the Lawyereman and the grass cutter.
Lawyereman wore a neat white shirt with not a single crease on it and a white pant. I saw his peon walking in, holding 4 glasses of tea in a metal glass holder. Everyone went inside to drink tea.
“Did he see me?” The red blouse wala asked her friend
“Ofcourse. He had a smile on his face when he saw you” spoke her friend
‘huh? What smile? I didn’t see him smile’ I wondered
“How much did he pay?” Asked her friend
Ente ammoo Grass now costs 50 RS?. We never had to buy grass for our cows in Chengannur. There is always abundant supply of grass and hay for our cows in Chengannur. I must tell Ammachi, how much grass costs in Kottayam!. No wonder fresh milk is so expensive here!