Doofus Nina

In the classroom, I always sat on the first row in the same spot everyday, not because I wanted to create an impression with my professors that I am a studious person, but because it is easy for me to lip read and understand what he is talking about. I never told anyone at the college that I am (partially) deaf. I didn’t want anyone’s sympathy.
My batch shared the classroom with year 3 students. Usually after the anatomy dissection class, we wait outside the classroom for the year 3 to finish their lecture and leave the room. As usual as soon as the year 3 students left, I went and sat in my usual spot. There was a piece of paper on the table with my name on it. I took the paper, opened it and there was a single line message

@Q B(COS) U R 2(SEC) C

I thought it was a message from ‘him’. I didn’t know what it meant. Was it a death threat? I tried to read and understand. I knew it is some kind of code, but I couldn’t understand the code. My hands started to shake. Anitha was sitting next to me.
“What is it Nina?” She asked
“Nothing” I replied
“Give me the paper” She snatched the paper from my hand. She read the message and asked me
“What is this?”
“I don’t know”
Anitha passed the paper to the person who was sitting next to her. Suddenly all the girls were reading the note and trying to decode the message. Finally the girl who sat behind me decoded it
“Hey, it says I will f^*@ you because you are too sexy” She was so excited to be able to decode the message
“What is f@#$?” I asked
My transformation from Ms. Kottayam to incompetent, dimwit,nitwit to absolute doofus was quick.

I was just so happy to go back home for the Dussehra holidays. All the Malayalee girls booked the train tickets together and I watched them leaving the hostel together. They never asked, if I am going back home or if I want to follow them.
I didn’t feel bad, as myself didn’t know who I was?. Am I a Malayalee, am I a Malaysian? Am I the chosen one?
Appa had send me enough money(100Rs) to buy a one way ticket(99Rs) without reservation. Amma would have convinced him the need to save money for the dowry. I could actually picture her saying to Appa
“It is only 17 hours for heaven sake! Why should we waste money unnecessarily. She can travel in the unreserved compartment!”

At the Bangalore railway station platform, I could see my classmates(boys and girls) sitting on top of their bags, eating dinner. They were all laughing and having a good time. I didn’t belong to their group, not when I have 1 Rs to buy dinner. There was a huge crowd waiting to get inside the unreserved general compartment. I walked towards the ladies compartment. I didn’t want to have free massages from fellow male passengers the whole night.
By the time I reached the last compartment(ladies compartment), it was full. People were already sitting on the racks meant to keep the luggage. The lady sitting by the window had kept her bag next to her and was pretending to sleep hugging her bag. If she removed that bag, then I can sit there.
“Ma’am would you mind keeping the bag on the floor?” I gently tapped her shoulder.
She didn’t bother to wake up and I had no intention to stand 17 hours till the train reached Kottayam
“Ma’am please keep the bag on the floor” This time I tapped her shoulder a little bit harder.
She woke up very angrily
“What is your problem?” She asked me
“I want to sit” I told her
“Indian Railways have something called reservation for those who wanting to sit down” She spoke with a mocking tone
“True ma’am. But Indian railways have no special booking for those travelling in the ladies compartment to reserve a place for their handbag” I was mad
She was lost for a moment and then taunted me
“You can’t stop me from keeping my bag next to me!”
I don’t know what possessed me, I pulled the strap of her bag so hard that even she was pulled up from the seat. I pushed the bag to the floor and sat down. I had enough of people taking me for a ride. No one hassled me the rest of the journey. When the train reached Piravam road junction, a vada seller got inside the train and I bought 2 parippuvada(lentil fritters) for 1 Rs and ate. The vada tasted so good. I wished I had some more money, so I could buy some vada for Ammachi.

When I reached home, Appa was sitting down in the easy chair and reading a novel.
“Hello Appa”
He looked up.
“Oh you are home. Go help your mother. Someone is coming to see Maria this evening”
I watched Liza and Sally running out
“Hi Nina, What did you bring for us? Did you bring guava for me?” Sally asked
Only then I remembered the promise I made before going to Bangalore. I had promised my baby sister that I will buy her a pink guava( usually found in MG road, Bangalore). More than the fact that I had no money to buy, I felt bad because I forgot about it.
I shook my head sadly
“You didn’t buy? You never keep your promises Nina” She huffed and went back inside.
Amma was in the kitchen making Achappam(kuih rose).
“Oh, you have arrived already. Go and clean the living room. There is a proposal for chechy. They are coming to see her today”
I took the broom from behind the door and went to clean the living room. Nobody even asked me how am I doing? My arrival or for that matter my departure made no difference to my family.
I didn’t know where Maria was, but I assumed she would be in her room resting, so she would look really good this evening.
After I cleaned the house, I went to the kitchen. I was hungry. Everyone had already eaten their lunch before I came. I found the rice pot, took some rice in to my plate. There was a little bit bitter gourd curry in a bowl.
“Amma, Is there any other curry?”
“What do you think Nina?, that I have to cook something special just because you are home?. Eat what is available. You should be grateful that you have three meals in a day”
May be I live in Utopian highlands. Because, I don’t understand, how my mother cooks Maria’s favourite food each time she comes home and not do the same for me. I thought of throwing the plate in to the sink and walking off.
I should have just stayed in the hostel. Atleast I would have got some lousy sambar and vege for lunch. My stomach was growling. I took 2 eggs from the fridge. I kept the pan on fire and poured oil. I would have normally put only a teaspoon of oil, but I was mad. I poured 2 table spoon of oil in to the pan. Amma saw it
“You think we have a printing machine here to print money? Where do you think we get the money from? Your father and I struggle each day, not for you to waste money”. She took the pan from the fire and poured the oil back in to the oil can.
I didn’t respond. The moment she went out to give my father tea, I poured 4 table spoon of oil in to the pan and fried the omlette. The omlette was literally floating in the oil. I lefted it up from the pan using a spatula and placed it in my plate. I learned the first Lesson of the week, omlette taste awful when it is fried in way too much oil. But I was hungry, so I ate the horrible omlette with my rice.

“Nina, go change your cloths. They should be here soon” I was washing the dishes that was left there, because my mother knew that I will come home and clean. There was even yesterday afternoon lunch plates in the sink. I could see that Amma had made beef perattal(syrian christian way of cooking beef) yesterday. There was left over coconut slivers stuck on the plates!
I quickly washed all the dishes,wiped my hand and ran to my room. I only bought one saree with me. It was my favourite saree. Appa had got it for Amma from Bombay and she didn’t like it, so she gave it to me. Brown cotton saree with a neat border. I wore the saree and went out. Maria was already dressed up for the occassion and was talking to my mother. She looked really beautiful in a blue Kanchepuram saree. Amma heard my footsteps and turned to look at me
“How dare you Nina? How dare you wear a saree? You want people to say, he came to view the older sister and married the younger sister? You can’t even be kind to your own sister? Why are you so mean?”
I looked at Maria and at my mother. Maria’s eyes were full of hatred and Amma’s eyes were full of anger. I didn’t understand what my mother said. She is the one who asked me to go and change, she is the one who gave me the saree, why did she say now that, I wore it to disrupt my sister’s marriage proposal? How can I even do anything like that? She is my one and only big sister,and what nonsense is that, the boy who is coming to see her would want to marry me?
I have tried all my life to have a normal relatioship with my big sister and I knew deep in my heart that Maria will never ever trust me, especially after my mother accused me of trying to steal her future husband. I ran back to my room and shut the door.
Later I heard a car arriving, people getting off, my mother and father laughing. I desperately wanted to see the man who is going to be my brother in law. But I didn’t want to leave the room. I didn’t want him to see me. I didn’t want to hear for the rest of my life that I destroyed my sister’s life.

13 thoughts on “Doofus Nina

  1. Hi,
    Genuine fears, indeed. What if they liked you more than your sis? Fair, long hair, deaf and a doc – qualities an average mallu yearns for in a wife- Afterall, it has happened before…..

    P.S. Dont Grrr..!!

  2. It was such a pity that your whole family was inconsiderate about you. If they didnt like you a lot, they should have at least not interfered with your life. 🙁

  3. was tht msg sent by xyz…or was a prank played by sumone else?

    ur mother was gud at the divide and rule policy ..

    she made you wash all the dishes? when you had just come home…..
    what did maria do …..

    people are really mean..

  4. Its too disturbing Sarah…
    Cant imagine how you went thru all that without even throwing a tantrum…
    I wish I could meet ur mom and shake some sense into her…

  5. how we take for granted our abilities. I was just imagining you wanting to sit on the first bench, so that you could lip-read your professor. Sarah, such determination you have…!! Youve worked so hard to become a doctor !! hats off to you…im sure tht there are very few ppl who couldve done wat u did…hugzz.hugzz.. :o)

    Ya, thats the biggest fear of parents, what if the guy likes the younger sister…though it was totally over the board, what your sis and mom said… !! sad !!

  6. Thanu: Come back soon! have a safe trip.

    Sujit: I never had nice time at home.. I never had a normal home..still don;t!

    Madhavankutty: Wrong description.. *Short hair( My mother was obsessed with my hair and I only managed to grow my hair in the last three years, tht too because she hasn’t seen me)..
    *slightly fairer than Maria
    *Ugly.. my sisters are so pretty..I am still the ugly duclking who never became the swan!!


    Visithra: Oh we(the four of us) were stupid not to have seen it coming!

    Alex: Oh.. they never said they don’t like me..

    Vidya: That note was probably from someone in year 3.. They all knew my fav spot!
    maria had beautiful long nails.. it would break f she washed the dighes/folded the clothes/helped in the kitchen etc

    Scribbles: Nah.. she is still in her wonderful world where she believes that she has sacrificed her life and lived with a violent man to make sure we have a life.. I don;t deny that there is some truth in it..but some where along the line, the truth was used as a weapon

    Techno: Nah techno.. I am the shortest, ugliest one!

    Sk: If my mother had such fears, why couldn’t she tell me to stay in the room? She asked me to go and change!

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