On thursday morning I was in a really bad mood. I still haven’t read most of the subjects, I haven’t had a chance to go back to the bakery to look for the red check shirt wala and today is the day, I should be going to Chengannur. Do I go or not? Ever since I met the red check shirt wala, there was a funny ache in my heart. I tried to be sensible Nina, who isn’t stupid to fall in love with an image. What if he is a drug user? What if he is an alcoholic?, But then the romantic Nina would ask, what if he isn’t? What if he is everything you ever dreamed of.
Then I realized, all these feelings are Ammachi’s fault. She is the one who taught me to think like this. I took my Chemistry text book and locked the door. I will study in the bus. Anyway I have been reading novels, all those times I travelled in the bus to Chengannur, so instead of story book I will read the chemistry book. So in a way, except for walking to the bus stand, I haven’t really wasted any time. I will not take a bath today and use that time to compensate the walk to the bus stand. After all even the mighty elephant doesn’t bath every day!
How stupid I could get!.
As soon as I sat in the bus, I opened the text book and started to read. I had so much to study. I didn’t even waste time to look at the people sitting in the bus. Soon I heard the conductor whistling and the bus started to move. I read about periodic table and Isotopes. When the bus reached the turn near the Ida hotel, I heard a bike sound and I looked outside. I didn’t want to miss a chance of seeing the red check shirt wala. It was a bald old man with a pot belly on a Yezdi bike. There should be a law against old men riding bikes! Why can’t all these people buy a car? Do they think they can capture the youth that went, by riding a bike!.
Every bike that went by, I looked outside the window. I just didn’t want to miss an opportunity to see my red check shirt wala one more time. Soon from periodic table, I progressed to bike spotting. When the bus reached Changanasseri bus station, I thought of getting down and taking the next bus back to Kottayam. But what if the red check shirt wala was really from Chengannur side and he too is going home today?
I ran down the bund road. I didn’t have time to waste, looking for the thatched roof. I looked to see if Ammachi was sitting on the parapet wall. She wasn’t there. I looked for her in the brook, She wasn’t there either. Where is she gone?
As I entered the veranda, I could hear Ammachi and Chakki speaking outside and I walked towards the cattle shed. Ammachi was sitting on a small korandi(stool) and weaving the coconut leaf. She heard me walking and looked at me stunned
“Why are you here?”
“when is your exam Nina?”
“And you came all the way here, instead of studying!”
That moment I realized I am so stupid and that I have all the qualifications to be known as Nina Thomas, grand daughter of Methran Thambi, pre-degree drop out!. Instead of Dr.Nina Thomas. M.B.B.S and some other extra alphabets after that. My frustrations came out in the form of tears.
“Why are you crying Nina?”
“I don’t know”
Ammachi turned to look at Chakki and spoke to her
“You know Chakki, I remember my mother in law saying, Thambi’s great great uncle was also mad. This must be genetic!”
“Pavam Nina Ammachi, stop laughing at her”
Chakki got up from her korandi(stool) and spoke
“Ignore your grandmother. She is also half mad!. Come inside the Nina, I will make coffee for you”, I watched Chakki walking towards the well to wash her hands. I looked at Ammachi. She was looking at me
“Why are you staring at me? Looking to see, if I have really gone crazy?”
“Do you know something?”
“30 odd years ago, your father too came home from the hostel 2 days before his exams”
“Why are you here Nina?”
“I wanted to see you Ammachi. I don’t know why” I looked at Ammachi. She was still looking at me, as though she knew, that I knew exactly why I am here. I saw Chakki’s Korandi (stool) on the floor and I sat down on it
“Ammachi did you fall in love with anyone, when you were growing up?”
“Oh! so that is the issue!”
“What is the issue?” I looked at Ammachi
“You fell in love!” “Edi chakki, I was wrong, it is not madness, it is first love” Ammachi was screaming
“Shhh Ammachi. Stop screaming” I was feeling embarassed
“What is he? Suriani?”
“I don’t know”
“hmmm” I nodded my head vigorously.
“I don’t know”
“What is his name?”
“I don’t know Ammachi” I was getting frustrated
“What do you know then?”
“Nothing. I saw him at the bakery and I know his bike number” I tried to show my grandmother that, there is still hope. At least I know the bike number.
Ammachi was looking at me.
“Nina,do you know how people find pearls?”
“ofcourse. Inside the oyster.”
“Does every oyster has a pearl?”
“I don’t know Ammachi”
“Oh Nina!.. When are you going to learn all these? Not all oyster has a pearl Nina. Oysters produce the pearls, when something irritates them, not other wise. But if you are looking for pearls, you have to keep looking, for that perfect pearl.
We all have a beautiful pearl somewhere in this world. Some stop looking the moment they found a pearl, they assume they found what they were looking. Some, don’t want to look and buy what is available at the shop, some don’t know that they have the most beautiful pearl and keep looking”
“Did you find your pearl Ammachi?” I had to ask her
“Where? Was Methran Thambi you pearl?”
“When is your exam Nina? isn’t it on monday?”
“Don’t change the subject. Answer me. Did you find your pearl?”
“Didn’t I just say yes?”
“That was not Methran Thambi, was it? Was it Chackochan?”
“Chackochan? Are you crazy? That old man? Gosh Nina, How can you even think like that, yuck” Ammachi pretended to vomit.
“Who was it?”
“Who was who?”
“Old woman, stop acting like a fool and answer me. You know exactly what I am asking!”
“Young woman, you should know then that, when it is time only then you will know. Now get up and go and drink coffee and go back home and study.”