Thank You Very Much

My stat counter reached 50,000 today!.

16 months ago, I was sitting in a cold, damp basement suite, and the only connection I had with the outside world was my computer and internet connection. Out of absolute boredom, I started blogging.

I had no idea then that anyone would be interested in reading my blog, or would even want to leave a comment.

I would like to thank all my readers, where you may be, for joining me, as I try to find answers to the questions that have plagued my mind for years.

I would like to share this poem, that helped me each and everytime I felt like asking, Why Me?

Robert Frost: The road not taken(1915)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Once again, Thank you very much for reading my blog and please do leave a comment!

mad women

“Ammachi, do you want to eat porotta? There is a nice restaurent over there that sells porotta” I pointed to a shop near the junction
“When did you eat there?, with whom?”
Aiyyoh ente Ammachi, I have never eaten there, I have to walk in front of that restaurent every time I come home! See it is near the junction, if you turn left there, you will reach the railway station!”
( I wondered what Ammachi would have done to me, if she knew Maria and I ate lunch at the railway station canteen!)
“Porotta? Isn’t that a methan’s(muslim) food?”
“Hmm, it is a muslim dish, it is really nice, you peel the layers and dip it in mutton kuruma and eat. It is very ! very! very! tasty.” The moment I uttered that I have eaten it before, I knew I am going to be in big trouble. Now I will have to tell more lies about where and when I ate muslim porotta. Me and my big mouth!
“When did you eat the porotta?” Ammachi looked at me like a detective.
“Oh Ammachi I ate it at the medical college, I have a muslim classmate, he brought is from home one day”
“No, no no, She.. it is a girl, slip of the tongue, She is from Malabar!”
Ammachi looked at me. My heart was beating non stop. I am never good at lying. Of all the stupid food on planet earth I had to ask Ammachi, if she wanted to eat porotta!
“I am not eating any muslim food”
“Why Thangamma, will you become a muslim if you eat their food?”
Ammachi looked at me and I asked her again
“Will a muslim become a suriani kristiani, if he eats our meen curry(fish curry)?”
“No he won’t. Suriani Kristiani is only born in a suriani kristiani family, like ours!. You know, our family line goes all the way back to the time when St. Thomas came to Kerala”
“Ofcourse, very true and we have a tail and three horns, that makes us different from the rest of the malayalees”
“We don’t have any tails and horns, but we do have our own culture that is centuries old and don’t you dare say anything bad about us” Ammachi looked visibly angry
“Sorry Ammachi, I wasn’t trying to make you angry. I just wanted to eat some porotta. If you don’t want to eat, we won’t. Please don’t get angry with me”
“hmm, let us go and buy a dress for you” Ammachi huffed and walked towards the textile showroom. We passed the shoe shop and I remembered something I did many many years ago.
“Ammachi” I called
“Can I tell you something?”
“Promise me you won’t scold me”
“do you remember, Once when I came to Chengannur for Onam holidays and I lost my slipper and you thought someone stole it?”
“The truth is” I looked at her to see what her reaction is going to be. She looked at me
“What is the truth?” She asked me
“Well, I went to play in the creek”
“I was on top of the bund and I removed my slipper, so it won’t get wet, and one slipper fell in to the water. It was floating in the current and I watched it disappearing.”
“What happend to the other one?” Ammachi asked ” did you drop that in to the water?”
“How did you know that?” I asked Ammachi
“You are my granddaughter right?”
“hmm” I nodded.” Sorry Ammachi, I lied to you”
“Do you know what is the punishment for lying?”
“hell fire?” I asked her
“Hmm, the devil will roast you in a big huge, giant cheena chatti(chinese wok), and your skin and your eyes and your hair, everything will burn!” Ammachi spoke like a prophet
“True, and you know something Ammachi? I don’t have to worry much, my whole family will be there in the wok with me!!”
Ammachi started to laugh
Aiyyah, You thought you can scare me??”
“Where is the porotta restaurent?” Ammachi asked me
“Why? I thought you don’t want to eat any muslim food!”
“Are you coming or not?”
“Ok, ok” Together we walked to the porotta shop and I ordered 2 porotta and a plate of mutton kuruma.
“Ammachi, do you know the story of Peter’s mother in law?”
“Which Peter?”
Aiyyah, the one in the bible, Christ’s disciple?”
“What about his mother in law?”
“Peter’s mother in law was very sick and Peter’s wife wanted Peter to ask Jesus to cure her, but Peter didn’t want to ask Jesus and finally one day mother in law died”
“Then what happend?”
“Patience my dear, why are you trying to stretch your legs before you even sit down?? thokkinathu keri vedivekkano?”
Ammachi pouted her lips and I was happy.. Every time when she told me a story and if I ever asked her then what happend, she would tell me the same dialogue!
“Peter’s wife asked Peter to find out fom Jesus, if her mother is in Heaven, Peter went and asked Jesus and Jesus checked the records and found out that, Peter’s mother in law is in hell.”
“When Peter’s wife heard that her mother is in hell, she told Peter,if you don’t get Jesus to help my mother, you don’t have to come back home. With a heavy heart, Peter went back to Jesus and told him what happend. Jesus told Peter, I will give a bean seed to your mother in law.. Each day , if your mother in law is good, the the plant will grow taller and when it reaches the door to heaven, your mother in law can climb out of hell”
I looked at Ammachi, She was about to open her mouth and ask me then what happend? She looked at me anxiously, really wanting to know what happend next.
“Peter’s mother in law tried really hard to be good and finally one fine morning, the bean plant reached the doors of heaven and Peter’s mother in law started to climb. She was only a feet away from the heaven gate and she looked down below, to say bye bye to all her friends. That is when she saw, all her friends were also climbing the bean plant”
“Then what happend?” Ammachi asked
“Peter’s mother in law was so angry. How dare they? Jesus send the bean seed only for her, not for them. Jesus is her son in law. She was so mad, she cut the bean stalk that was below her legs, so the other women climbing behind her won’t get a chance to get out of hell, Unfortunately, the top part of the bean stalk wasn’t strong enough to hold her weight!!”
Ammachi was laughing so loud and I looked around us, Everyone was looking at us, the two mad women.
It felt so good to laugh and to see Ammachi laughing. For tomorrow is going to be totally different. Tomorrow, I will have to leave Ammachi and go back to the medical college and face the music all by myself.
Tomorrow, Ammachi will be alone again, struggling each day even to just get up from her bed, hoping to do her job well.
She must take care of the land for her son and I must find my own destiny. The two mad women!
note: My maternal grand mother told me the Peter’s mother in law story, when I was little, probably to get at her own mother in law!
There is no such story in the bible and it is purely 100% fictional.

Progessive degenerative disease

“Ammachi, can we go and see a Dr?” I asked
“For what?”
“To show your leg”
“Oh that! . No need Nina. This is all part of growing old”
“I know that. But there are medicines that can reduce the pain Ammachi”
“Then, why don’t you want to see a doctor?”
Ammachi looked at me, as though she was hesitant to answer me.
“Tell me why you don’t want to see a doctor? Are you scared to see a doctor?”
“Scared? Me? Do you think I am afraid of anything?”
“Well, all this while I thought, you are a kaduvaye pidicha kiduva, but now I am not so sure”
podi(get lost).” Ammachi replied
“Come Ammachi, I will take you to the doctor”
“Ok” Reluctantly she got up to change her clothes.
“Why don’t you go and change your clothes Nina”
“I didn’t bring any clothes with me Ammachi”
“Oh!No wonder it is stinking here. I was wondering where the smell was coming from. It is from you!” Ammachi pinched her nose as though it was really stinking.
“Go Ammachi, I wore this saree only yesterday and it is not smelly!”
Ammachi started to laugh and she went inside to change her clothes. I sniffed my shoulder and armpit to see, if I am really stinking. I wasn’t. I knew Ammachi was just teasing me.

Ammachi came out wearing chatta, mundu and kasavu neriyathu. She was wearing a beautiful brooch in the shape of a dragonfly with blue stones in the wings.
“Where did you get that brooch from?”
“My kamukan(boyfriend) gave it to me. Do you like it?”
“Oh Really? Which kamukan(boyfriend)?”
“Shhh.. It is a secret”
“Oh ok”
Ammachi has been teasing me since I came. Today I will give it to her. I had a super, master plan.
“Come let us go” I held her hand. Then I remembered
“Ammachi, Don’t you want to lock the door?”
“What for? There is nothing to steal here Nina, only an old radio and some porridge, If someone wants to steal that, why hassle them by locking the door?”
I shook my head, there is no point in telling Ammachi to be careful. She is not going to change.
Together we walked towards the bund wall. Just as we reached the creek, I got down to the bund wall first an gave her my hand, so she won’t fall. I remembered all the times, Ammachi gave me her hand, so I won’t fall down and now it is my turn. I knew I have to take care of her, just like how she took care of me, but it was not possible. I chose to do medicine, that too in Bangalore, 20 hours by train from Chengannur!

We walked slowly on the bund and when we reached Upadeshi Appachan’s house, I stopped, looked over the main gate. I was glad to see him laying down on the easy chair.
“Appacho, Upadeshi Appacho” I started to shout
“Shhh Nina, why are you calling him?”
“Isn’t he your kamukan(boyfriend)?. I know you want to say hello to your kamukan(boyfriend).”
Ammachi stared at me
” Oh Thangamma, don’t feel shy. Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone.”
Meanwhile, Upadeshi Appachan got up from the easy chair and was walking towards the gate asking “Who is that?”
ninne njan!!(I will kill you Nina)” Ammachi hissed while shaking her her index finger at me.
I stuck my tongue at her.
“Aha, Is that you Thangamma? Where is Ammachi and kochumol(grand daughter) going?” Upadeshi Appachan asked
“Oh, just going to the town. She won’t leave me alone” Ammachi pointed to me
“Ammachi, Did you say thanks for the brooch?” I asked her
“Keep quiet Nina”
“what brooch, what thanks? Upadeshi Appachan looked at me and at Ammachi.
“Oh, Nothing. She is mad, I will speak to you later” Ammachi quickly walked to where I was standing.
ninne njan!!i(I will kill you Nina)”
“Why are you getting angry with me? You are the one who said, your boyfriend gave you the brooch, true? and I thought Upadeshi Appachan is your boyfriend”
“He is not my boyfriend and he didn’t give me the brooch. Your father got the brooch for me!”
“Then you should have told me the truth”
“Oh Nina, what am I going to tell Upadeshi, when he sees me next time and ask what brooch were we talking about?”
“Don’t know.”
“don’t know! you create unnecessary troubles Nina!”
“I am your grand daughter, No?”

We took a rickshaw from the main road and went to Dr.Elizabeth’s house. She was Appa’s classmate in school. She checked Ammachi’s BP, her heart and her knees. After the physical examination, Dr. Elizabeth asked Ammachi to wait outside.
“Nina, Your grandmother is having osteoarthritis, You know, It is a progressive degenerative disease and there is nothing much you can do, except may be prescribe some pain killers and anti inflammatory drugs!.”
“hmm” I nodded my head
“has she got anyone to help her in the house?”
“No” I shook her head
“Nina, you will need to find someone to help her. You do realize, soon she may not be able to walk. It will be extremely painful for her to walk”
I didn’t know what to do. Who is going to take care of Ammachi? Why is life so hard? I am the only one Ammachi has and there is no way I can take care of her. Chakki won’t come back, because Kutten won’t let her work for Ammachi any more. Who will take care of Ammachi?
Dr. Elizabeth handed me the prescription.
As soon as I came out of the room, Ammachi asked
“What did the doctor say?”
“She said, you are hail and healthy.” I lied. How can I tell my grandmother that, she will not be able to walk in a few months time? How is she going to survive?

Soldier to King

After lunch I went and sat down on the parapet wall. From where I sat, I could see the paddy fields stretching as far as my eyes could see. There should have been paddy planted in the fields. It is late Nov, but most of the fields looked barren.
I heard footsteps and turned to see Ammachi walking towards me. I was shocked to see Ammachi holding the walls for support.
This woman, who once chased me all around the fields with a stick in her hand(because Suriani Kristiani girls are not supposed to climb trees!!), was now struggling to walk. I looked at her legs. I couldn’t see anything because she was wearing mundu(sarong)
“What happend to your legs Ammachi? Why are you walking like that?”
“my legs are hurting me Nina”
“Where? Why?” I asked
“How do I know? You are supposed to know that. You are a doctor”
I wanted to laugh, me doctor? only I know the truth.
“Show me your leg” I ordered like a real doctor
Ammachi sat down next to me on the parapet wall. she couldn’t even lift her legs and keep them on the parapet wall. I got up, lifted her legs and placed them on the parapet wall. I checked her knees. They looked deformed.
“Where does it hurt Ammachi?”
“Oh Nina, I can’t even get up from the bed in the morning . My knees hurt each time I move my leg”
I looked at her leg, I knew there is something wrong with her knee, but my medical knowledge was limitted to the names of the cranial nerves. I wanted to take the pain away from her knees. I desperately wanted to.
“Wait here. I will come now” I went to the kitchen. I know where Ammachi keeps all the thailam(herbal medicines). I picked up one bottle, opened it and smelled it. It smelled good. I have seen Chakki warming up the medicine before using it. I looked around, couldn’t find any pots, so I used Ammachi’s wok.
“What are you doing there Nina? Are you burning my house down?” I heard Ammachi shouting from the vernada, She must have smelled the smoke coming from the stove. I still haven’t learned the art of lighting a wood fire.
“What is your problem old woman? Can’t you trust me? I am not burning your house down. I am making something for you!”
Parumala thirumeni kakkane” (Patron of Jacobites, protect us) Ammachi prayed loud.
When the medicine was sufficinetly hot, I used some old news paper and carried the wok to the veranda.
“What is that?” Ammachi pointed to the wok
Chekuthaney(you imp!), My mother gave me that wok when I got married”
“So?” I asked her tying to figure out why is she so mad
“So? You are asking me so, after you destroyed it?” Ammachi was screaming
I looked at the wok. It looked fine to me. I looked at her again.
“What are you trying to say, How did I spoil your wok? Have you gone mad or what?”
“I will show you” I watched Ammachi struggling to get her legs off the parapet wall. I knew, if this happend 2 years ago, by now I would be running around the fields holding on to my dear life with her chasing me.
I started to laugh.
“hmm” She grunted and looked away.
“Thangamma, my darling Thangamma, why are you fighting with me?”
She didn’t even bother to look at me.
I kept the wok on the floor and walked towards her
I touched her forehead and she pushed my hands away
“Thangamma, you look really beautiful when you are angry”
I could see a tiny smile coming from the corner of her mouth.
“You look even more beautiful, when you try to hide the beautiful smile”
podi(get lost)” Ammachi was grinning. “Oh Nina, how could you heat the medicine in the wok, I use for cooking?”
“Why not?”
“Oh Nina, I can’t use that wok for cooking anymore, if I cook anything in that, the food will smell like medicine!”
“Oh! never mind,We will buy a new wok”
“ofcourse, go and bring the machine out”
“Which machine?”
“Shhh! Don’t shout. Others will hear! The machine.. you know the one that prints money, it is there under my bed” Ammachi spoke with such a straight face that for a second I really thought she has a money printing machine.
“Go Ammachi. I am not talking to you” I picked up the wok, sat on the parapet wall and started to massage Ammachi’s knees
Ammachi leaned on the pillar and I asked her
“Why there is no paddy in the field this time?”
“can’t what Ammachi?”
“It is not possible to grow paddy anymore Nina”
“Why Ammachi?”
“She turned her head and pointed to the field on the far right corner
“See the field there, they are making bricks, they are draining all the water from our fields, so paddy won’t grow”
“How can they do that Ammachi?”
“They can Nina, there are no laws preventing people from making bricks from the paddy fields. Chandy owns that plot, He earned some money working in Dubai and now trying to be the new janmi (land lord). The other day he came and offered money to buy our field. He said he will pay 50,000 Rs for the whole field.”
“How much is it worth?” 1 asked her
“When we had paddy, it was worth around 2 lakhs”
“And he wants to pay 50000 rs?”
“Hmm, He is slowly choking everyone around here Nina. What is the point of keeping a paddy field when you can’t grow any paddy? He has already bought Chakochan’s field”
“Are you going to sell it Ammachi?”
“No Nina, I didn’t struggle all these years to sell it to one neerkkoli(water snake)”
“So what are you going to do?”
“Nothing much. Believe me, it will still be there when you come back after you finish medicine”
“I don’t want to do medicine anymore Ammachi”
“Why is that?”
“I don’t want to do Ammachi. I want to stay here and help you in the farm”
“Why here?”
“Why not? This is my home”
“No Nina, this isn’t your home”
“huh?” I looked at her stunned
“This is your father’s home. When your grandfather died, his father wrote in the will that, your father is the owner of all these land and I am only allowed to take care of the property, as a caretaker. I don’t own a single cent of this land Nina”
“So, your father can give this land to anyone”
“But I am his daughter Ammachi”
“Ofcourse you are. But when you stay here, you will be a liability to him and he will throw you out. Where will you go then?”
“He won’t throw me out Ammachi. I am his flesh and blood”
“You are wrong Nina, he came from me. I know him. You have to go back and study. You need to be able to stand on your own feet Nina”
“I can’t Ammachi”
Ammachi looked at me.
“Nina, you know what my mother used to say?”
“When I was little I was afraid of storms. The howling sound of wind, the roaring of thunder, the non stop rain and the havoc it creats made me extremely fearful of storms. One day my mother told me, instead of waiting anxiously for the storm to come, why don’t you accept the fact that, you can’t stop the storm, but you can rebuild everything that the storm destroyed.”
“Some storms can destroy you Ammachi”
“Only if you allow it to”
“What do you mean?”
“Nina, A soldier in the army never wins the war, even if the side he fought won. The king wins the war, even when he doesn’t fight the actual war. Soldier faces the arrows in the battlefield, while the king stays in his palace. You need to learn to fight the war like a king, not like a soldier.”
“How do I do that?”
“Go back to your college, study, become a doctor. That is your destiny, stop running away like an injured soldier.”


When the train reached Chengannur station, I still had one last obstacle to clear. The ticket examiner at the exit. I was hoping for a huge crowd near the exit and do the same stunt like last time, ie tell the ticket examiner that my mother is at the back of the queue with the ticket. Unfortunately only 2 passengers got down at Chengannur station and I didn’t know what to do.
I opened my lab coat and hung it on my shoulder. I knew I looked like a Doctor. With my head held high, I walked to the gate and smiled at the examiner and walked out, before he could ask me for the ticket. I quickly walked out of the station, leaving the stunned ticket examiner near the exit gate.

I suddenly felt extremely tired. I haven’t had anything to eat or drink since last evening. Till now, all I thought was to eascape. Now that I have escaped, I didn’t have any more strength and couldn’t walk all the way to Chengannur house. I looked around and finally decided to take an auto rickshaw from the stand.
“You are Thomas Uncle’s daughter right?” The driver turned his head and asked
I was really surprised and asked him “How do you know that?”
“You look just like your father”
“Really?” I knew I look like my father, but it is really exciting to hear that from a stranger.
“Carbon copy. 100%” He replied
“hmm” I nodded my head
“Do you know who I am?”
I shook my head.
“Do you remember walking under the elephant’s leg?”
“Hmmm” I nodded
“Do you remember me now?” He turned his head again and grinned.
I looked at his face. He had curly hair and a nice mustache. But I couldn’t remember him at all. Then I remembered the nikkerwala payyan.
“Aha, aren’t you the one, who wants to marry me?” I asked him
He started to laugh. “Wow, your memory is super”
“Ofcourse, I am after all Methran Thambi’s grand daughter!”
“What are you doing now?” I asked him
“I am going to Dubai soon. I am waiting for the visa”
“Why?” I asked him
“Why What?” He asked
“Why do you want to go to Dubai?”
“Pengale(sister), I completed with first class and the only job I got here is to drive an auto rickshaw. Even to apply for the postion of a peon in the government, I have to pay bribe. There is no future here. Atleast in Dubai, even if I get a job as a labourer, I will make more money than here!”
“hmm” I nodded my head. I was afraid even to think, what my future would be with a simple pre-degree qualification.
When we reached the main road near the house, I got down from the rickshaw. I was planning to make him wait at the junction, run home, get money from Ammachi and come back and pay him
“How much?” I asked him
“How much what?” he asked me
“The fare!”
“Oh that ! Ente pengale(my sister), during karkkidakam(monson) even when we can’t light a fire, we had food at home. Your Ammachi made sure of that and now after all that do you think, I will take money from you?”
I looked at him, trying to understand everything that is happening. What a difference from yestrday’s rickshaw driver to today’s rickshaw driver.
Pengale(sister), you go home now, I will stand here and make sure you reach home safely”
“Thank you for dropping me here” I mumbled and started to walk.
When I reached the kaitha koottam,I turned and looked. The rickshaw driver was still standing there near the junction and watching me and I realized I don’t even know his name. I waved at him and turned right.
This time, I didn’t feel like, trying to spot the thatched roof or shouting Ammachi’s name across the paddy field. When I reached home, the living room door was open and I walked in. There was no sign of Ammachi. When I reached the kitchen Ammachi was just walking towards the dining table to place the bowl of porridge on the table. She saw me and looked stunned.
I ran to her and hugged her. I had so much to tell her and no words came out.
“Are you ok Nina?” She asked me
“Is your father ok?”
“Why are you here Nina?”
Why am I here? Oh Ammachi I wish I could tell you that.
“I just wanted to see you Ammachi”
“hmm, go wash your hands and come”
I kept my coat and books on the dining table and went to wash my hands and legs. The cold water from the well was soothing, So I washed my face again and again
“Nina, stop playing with the water like a little kid and come and eat your lunch.”
“I am not playing with the water. And I am not a little kid anymore” I screamed back
Ammachi was already sitting on the bench and waiting for me. I looked at the food on the table. There was porridge, unakkameen chammanthi(salted fish chutney) and white moru(yogurt curry)
“Where is Chakki?”
“She is not here”
“Where is she?”
“I don’t know”
I looked at my grandmother, trying to understand what she is telling me. She was busy eating her porridge.
“Ammachi, What happend to Chakki?”
“You won’t let me eat in peace will you?” She screamed at me
I was so upset with her. I ran away from Bangalore, hoping to escape from everything and find comfort and safety with my grandmother, and here is she, yelling at me and I don’t know what happend to Chakki
I looked down and started to paly with my spoon. I was hungry, but I didn’t feel like eating.
“I had to ask her to leave” Ammachi spoke
“Because your father won’t leave her alone”
I looked at my grandmother. There were too many things that was going in my life and I always thought, my father is a wonderful man, even when he hit my mother, I always thought Amma had asked for it. Now I didn’t know anything anymore.
We ate the rest of the meal in silence. I understood why Ammachi has progressed from rice and 3 different curries to porridge and salt fish chutney. My grandmother has to do everything all by herself. I was glad to be home. Atleast now I can help her.


Life was almost in a routine at the medical college. I get up at 7AM, get ready, eat breakfast and attend classes from 8am to 1 pm. Lunch at 1.15 pm and rest till 2.oopm. Dissection classes are from 2 pm to 4pm. After 4pm, on monday, wednesday and friday I usually go to the canteen and have egg bhaji.
Boiled egg, sliced and coated in spicy batter and deep fried. I love the egg bhaji’s and looked forward to monday, wednesday and friday.
Weekends, only those who are from Bangalore get to go home. Rest of the students have to stay back at the hostel.
n between all these mudane activities, there is one person who brings so much of joy to our daily life.
The postman.
He always come at 12.30pm carrying letters and parcels from loved ones. His arrival is usually announced by the constant ringing of cycle bell, followed by the sounds of footsteps of hundreds of girls running down the staircase asking
“Any letter for me?”
Initially I waited for the postman everyday, hoping, Amma or my sisters would send a letter. I desperately wanted to receive a letter, to feel that I am wanted, to know that somebody loves me or atleast that somone missed me. There was nothing, no one loved me, no one missed me, no one wanted me and I stopped waiting for the post man.

Friday afternoon dissection class, I had too much on my mind. I needed to tell Arjun, my Bangalorean classmate, the names of the novels I want him to borrow for me from Eloor lending library on infantry road. I wanted to eat the egg bhaji at the canteen and I was planning to do some cooking in the room. I can only cook when Shylaja goes home. She is a vegetarian and complaints if I cook any non veg( including egg) in the room.
I checked my watch. It was 3.45pm. Another 15 minutes, I will give the list to Arjun and run to the canteen.
Dr. Srinivas decided to have spot quiz.
“Ms. Thomas, what are the 12 cranial nerves?” I heard Dr. Srinivas asking.
I pretended I didn’t hear the question and quickly took my forceps out and started digging the cadaver. The only sound in the room was the constant whirring of the ceiling fan, and soon I could hear the tuck tuck sound of footsteps approaching my table. I hated Dr. Srnivas. He always picks on me.
“Ms. Thomas”
“Yes sir” I looked up feigning a surprised look.
“What are the names of the 12 cranial nerves?”
I had absolutely no idea.(Not that I was in anyway interested to find out the names. What difference would it make, knowing the name anyway? I don’t want to be a surgeon!)
I shook my head.
Dr Srinivas was mad.
“How did you get admission to do medicine?”
I shook my head again.
I was not trying to be funny, but my batchmates were already laughing, seeing me shake my head every time.
“Shut up all of you” screamed Dr. Srinivas.
There was pin drop silence in the class.
“You will not leave this hall, till you name all the cranial nerves! Do you understand that Ms. Thomas?”
I nodded my head.
Before Dr. Srinivas could scream at me anymore, it was already 4pm and all the students got up to leave. I took my cunningham manual and tried to find where the Cranial nerves are.
“When you finished learning the names, meet me at my office” Dr, Srinivas barked and went off.
I desperately tried to memorize the names. I had to learn it fast, so I can go and eat the egg bhaji, before the seniors return from the hospital and finish it off. I tried and tried, I couldn’t remember all the names. I was getting mad at myself.
“Oottafagvah” I heard someone speaking and I looked up. It was Dr. Rajesh. He is working as a junior lecturer and while preparing for the entrance exam.
I looked at him, trying to understand what he is trying to say.
“Do you know the mnemonics for the cranial nerves?
I shook my head. I didn’t even know what was mnemonics
“The easiest way to remember the cranial nerves is to remember ‘oootta fag vah’. Oootta ia food, fag is for cigarette, vah is ‘to come’.”
I stared at him, trying to understand what he is trying to say. What food and cigarette is he talking about?
Dr. Rajesh picked up the Cunningham’s manual from my hand and showed me
He pointed the first alphabet from each cranial nerve
“Oh. Like that” I was so excited
“Thank you thank you, I will see you later” I ran to Dr. Srinivas’s room on the first floor and knocked at the door
“Yes” He barked
I went inside and he looked up.
“Did you learn?”
I nodded my head and recited the 12 cranial nerves. I felt like I won the lottery.
“Good, very good” Dr. Srinivas really looked happy
“What are their functions? What does each cranial nerve do?”
I shook my head.”Monday sir. I will tell you on monday.”
It was his turn to shake his head and I quickly walked out of the room. I checked my lab coat to make sure that I have enough money to buy the egg bhaji, otherwise I will have to walk all the way back to the hostel and get the money from my room. I had 10 Rs with me.
Just as I was climbing down the stairs, I looked at the canteen entrance to see if it is crowded. I saw the familiar red jeep parked infront of the canteen entrance. Security guy was leaning on the back of the jeep and looking at the girls going back to the hostel.
‘Oh my goodness, it is him. he is waiting for me’
I needed to run, I needed to get out. I couldn’t think straight. My hands started to shiver and I watched the security guy asking the boys something and they pointed to the dissection hall. I quickly climbed up the stair to the first floor and ran the opposite direction towards the main entrance of the college. I took the starcase near the library and walked towards the main entrance
I needed a letter from the hostel warden to leave the campus. The college security guard was standing near the closed gate. I walked up to him.
“Stop” He screamed.” Where are you going?”
I smiled the sweetest smile I could manage at that moment and pointed the tender coconut seller outside the entrance.
“Thirsty” I spoke again. In my nervousness, I couldn’t remember kannada.
He looked at me
I took the 10 Rs from my pocket and showed him the money and pointed the tender coconut seller.
“5 minutes” He opened the door and allowed me to go out. I knew he is watching me and I walked towards the tender coconut seller and ordered a drink. The seller took a coconut from his bicycle and was chopping the top of the coconut. I turned to look at the security guard and he was staring at me, to make sure I won’t escape. Just then a senior girl came with the permission slip and I watched him getting the book from his booth for her to sign and I ran. I could hear the tender coconut seller calling after me. I didn’t bother to stop. I ran to the auto rickshaw stand and got in to the first auto.
“Go” I yelled at the driver.
He turned back and smiled the ugliest smile on earth
“Go where ma?”
“Hurry, start your vehicle. I will tell you where to go”
I watched him struggling to start the rickshaw. His auto must have been manufactured before I was born. It refused to start. I was too afraid to get out of the rickshaw and get in to the next one. My uncle is inside the campus, the college security guard is looking for me and I am stuck in an autorickshaw that won’t start. I was just about to get out the rickshaw and run, and the driver managed to start his rickshaw. Again he turned and smiled that dirty filthy smile and asked
“Go where”
I only had 10 Rs with me and no where to go. I didn’t know much places in Bangalore. The only place I knew was
“Railway station” I spoke
As the auto reached the main road, I knew, there would be instructions from the higher authorities asking traffic police to look out for me. I removed my lab coat and folded it. I removed my spectacles and kept it inside the lab coat. Each time the rickshaw stopped at a traffic light, I was eating fire. I watched the rickshaw driver adjusting the mirror and looking at me.
“medical college student ah?” He asked me
I didn’t respond
“Where are you from?” He asked again
I didn’t respond. I looked at the fare meter. It was already 12 Rs. I wanted to cry, I only had 10 Rs!. By the time we reached the railway station it was already 16 Rs.
I got down from the rickshaw. Took the 10 Rs from my lab coat
“I only have 10 Rs with me. I will pay you the rest of the money when I come back.” I pleaded.
He turned and looked at the meter
“No. You have to pay 16 Rs. That is the fare”
“Please” I begged
He had that ugly smile on his face that suggested a lot of things.
“Please” I begged again
He touched my fingers while he took the the money from my hand. I felt so dirty. But how can I go after an auto driver, when I didn’t even pay him the fare. I quickly walked inside the railway station. It was crowded and I still had another 4 hours before the train to Kottayam leaves. I knew ‘he’ would use the police to find me and I couldn’t risk waiting in the rest rooms or waiting on the platform. I had to hide somewhere. I looked around. There was no place that I could hide, so I walked out of the railway staion and crossed the road. On the other side of the road, there are Tibetans selling their wares by the road side. Most of them selling sweaters and jackets. I found one lady sitting on the floor, she had beautiful stone jewelleries infront of her on a plastic mat. She had a baby sleeping in a bag on her back. She looked like a nice lady.
“May I sit here?” I asked her in Hindi pointing to the place next to her.
She looked at me and nodded her head. I sat next to her on the floor.
Sun was setting and the street lights came on slowly. It was getting colder. I didn’t have any jacket with me. It was funny, because I was sitting in the midst of traders selling brand new woollen jackets.
I used the saree pallav and wrapped myself to keep me warm.
A little while later, someone came with tea. I watched the lady buying a glass of tea. The tea seller poured the tea from an aluminium kettle in to a tiny steel glass and placed the glass in a steel bowl and gave it to her. I watched the lady pouring the tea from the glass in to the bowl to cool it. She then looked at me. She poured some tea in to the glass and passed me the glass.
I shook my head.
The lady nodded her head and encouraged me to have the tea. She had such a sweet smile. She had so many wrinkles on her face, yet she looked peaceful. Here is a woman, who probably walked for days on snow mountains to escape from Tibet, hoping for a better future in India and is now offering half of her tea to a total stranger. I wish I could pay her back for her kindness
I needed that tea, not because it would keep me warm for a little while, but because, I knew I will survive. If she can escape from Tibet, I can escape from one powerful man.
Around 8pm, she got up to pack her stuff and leave. I helped her to pack the jewelleries in to a clothes bag. Before she left, she looked at me and smiled again. She said something in her language and I didn’t understand. I watched her leave with the rest of the group. I still had another hour and it no longer felt safe to be alone outside on the road side. I quickly walked back to the railway station. I looked for the red jeep outside. There was no sign of the jeep anywhere. But there were lot more police around. May be I am imagining it, I thought.
I quickly walked to the platform no 5. The train was already there. I didn’t have money to buy the ticket. Anyway this isn’t the first time I am travelling without a ticket. I had my college identity card. In case if the TTE comes for the check, I will show him my ID and tell him that I have been robbed. May be he will have mercy for me.
There weren’t much passengers in the ladies compartment. I found an empty luggage rack and quickly climbed on top and lay down. I panicked each time I heard a male voice in the compartment. I was afraid even to look. I was so relieved when the train started to move.
Initially I was thinking of going to Kottayam. Then it occured to me that Amma would only make my life miserable. I decided to go to Chengannur.

They say everything happens for a reason. When my prof asked me the names of the cranial nerves, I hated him. I felt he was picking on me. But If my prof didn’t ask me the names of the cranial nerves that day, I would have walked straight from the dissection hall to the canteen and wouldn’t have been around to type this blog