Someone wants to meet me? Someone really wants to meet me? Oh boy, now that is something! In my heart I knew who that someone is going to be. Not many people have given me a thumbs up sign, while I was getting yelled at! I felt so happy. I felt I was walking in the clouds and I could hear Lionel Richie singing
Endless love in my head.
My love,
There’s only you in my life
The only thing that’s bright

My first love,
You’re every breath that I take
You’re every step I make

And i(i-i-i-i-i)
I want to share
All my love
with you
No one else will do…

And your eyes
Your eyes,
your eyes
They tell me how much you care
Ooh yes,
you will always be
My endless love

Two hearts,
Two hearts that beat as one
Our lives have just begun
I’ll hold you close in my arms
I cant resist your charms
And love
Oh, love
I’ll be a fool
For you,I’m sure
You know I don’t mind
Oh, you know I don’t mind
cause you,
You mean the world to me
OhI know
I know
I’ve found in you
My endless love
Oooh-woowBoom, boomBoom, boom, boom, boom, booomBoom, boom, boom, boom, boom
Oooh, and love
Oh, love
I’ll be that fool
For you,I’m sure
You know I dont mind
Oh you know-I dont mind
And, yes
You’ll be the only one
cause no one can deny
This love I have inside
And I’ll give it all to you
My love
My love, my love
My endless love

Paul was talking to me all the while, but I was too happy to bother what he was saying. I just nodded my head each time he looked at me. I hoped he wouldn’t say ‘you are an idiot’and I wouldn’t nod my head and agree
As soon as we reached the canteen, Paul shouted
“Jomon, see who is here”
Jomon? Is that beautiful eye’s name? But that is a Malayalee name. May be it is Jomo. I cursed my deaf ears!
I looked at the group of seniors standing hear the window and looking out.They were all smoking and students are not allowed to smoke in the campus. I know why they are standing near the window, The moment they spot Princy walking towards the canteen, they will throw the cigarettes out through the window.

Everybody in the college knows Cigarette smoking is injurious to tympanic membrane, especially when Princy catches you with a cigarette in your hand! The last time I was in the canteen, Princy came to the canteen for a spot check, everyone inside the canteen threw the cigarette out, unfortunately one unlucky senior came inside the canteen and lit his cigarette. Poor chap had no idea that Princy was in the canteen. I learned that day that day the actual definition of Cigarette ( a stick with fool at one end and fire at the other end)
I watched Paul walking towards the guys standing near the window. He whacked a curly haired guy’s back and said
“See who is here”
I watched him and all the others standing near him throw the cigarette out of the window. All of them turned to look at the entrance with fear in their eyes. I looked at each of their faces. Beautiful eyes wasn’t among them.
May be, he went back to the hostel. May be Paul would send someone to the men’s hostel and let beautiful eyes know I am waiting for him at the canteen.
“You Idiot, you scared me. I didn’t even get to smoke 1/10 of my cigarette. I thought it was the Princy” The curly haired and his friends were visibly angry with Paul.
He saw me and started to walk towards me
“Hello Ms. Kottayam, how are you?”
I looked at the man who was standing in front of me. The top two buttons in his shirt was undone exposing his hairy chest. My God, this one is a chantha*. He is not Jomo, He is Jomon, the epitome of Mallu macho man and every Mallu girl’s nightmare.
“Come, have a seat” He pointed to the table on the side
Jomoney kollam kollam!, When are you treating us?” Called out one of his friends
Poda(get lost)” He answered
Rakshikkane, Jomonu premam moothey(Help Jomon is in love)” Another one started to shout, soon everyone in the canteen was whistling and shouting.
I wasn’t sure, what exactly is happenng.
“Sit down” Jomon ordered
I sat down facing Jomon.
“2 coffee” Ordered Jomon
Idiot. He didn’t even ask me if I like coffee. I like to drink tea. Even the canteen operator knows that and always serve tea with my egg bhaji.
“Do you speak Malayalam?”
Stupid fellow, if he knows I am from Kottayam, what does that mean? We speak German in Kottayam?
“Yes”I nodded
“Can you read Malayalam?”
Ok, this is stupid. You are asking someone who studied 5 years in 100% pure Malayalam medium, if she can read Malayalam!
“Yes” I muttered
Nighandu vayichittundo( Have you read Nighandu?)”
I looked at the guy who is sitting infront of me. What kind of an idiot would ask someone have you read Nighandu( malayalam Dictionary). What should I say to this moron? Should I say Yes? Then he might ask me some high funda unknown Malayalam word and I probably won’t know the answer and get in to trouble?
Nah, I will play the ignoramus role
“No sir”
“Well, you should read it. The book is full of suspense”
“tell me about your family”
My family? Why does this guy needs to know about my family? I looked at him. The canteen operator had brought the coffee and I watched Jomon lifting the cup. I saw the back of his palm. He had body hair even on his palm. He looked disgusting! .
He looked very much like an ape and he thinks, he is very macho, because he has abundant body hair! The reason why the top buttons of his shirt are undone!
“Tell me about your family!” that sounded very much like an order.
“Why do you want to know?”
pinney njan kettan poovunna penninte veettukaryangal enikkariyendey?”( don’t I have the right to know more about the girl that I am going to marry?). He was grinning
“Excuse me?” What did he just say? He is going to marry me?
“Come on, stop acting so innocent. I have seen you looking at me so many times. I know you like me. Still I like your innocence. That is cute!”
Me, Looking at this ape man so many times? I hate body hair! There is not a chance in hell that I would even look at this guy one time let alone many times!. What is this guy talking about? When did I ever look at him?
Then I remembered ‘beautiful eyes’ singing session at the canteen. This idiot was sitting with beautiful eyes. Oh No! he thinks I was looking at him. Not enough, he has already decided that he is marrying me.
I looked at him. He was staring at me and he raised his bushy eye brows.
“My dad works in the middle east and my mom works at the telephones.”
“How many siblings do you have?”
“How many boys?”
“Oh. Your parents have four girls ah? They have to save a lot of money for the dowry!”
Ofcourse, morons like you demand it.don’t you? I felt so angry and disgusted.
“Are you the oldest?”
He looked at me again and raised his eyebrow.
“I have an older sister”
“Is she married?”
“Why not?”
Why not? Why do you need to know all these?
“Can I go please? I have an assignment to submit tomorrow”
“What assignment?”
I thought hard, then I remembered my anatomy test and how I messed up the nerve supply of the shoulder joint. I answered quickly
“Shoulder joint” .
“Oh Ok. By the way, I will be going home for easter. I am planning to visit your parents then”
I didn’t bother to respond. He can go and see my parents. There is no way,I am going to marry a man who is a chantha.

Chantha: There is no direct translation for the word. But generally, a chantha is a guy who can be found often near the bus stands/markets( public places) ogling at woman. The shirt for him is just an accessory worn to enhance his manliness, therefor he usually never bothers to button the shirt. He also has an attitude to match his manliness.

This post is dedicated to my favourite author, whose novels helped me to learn english and the characters like Tracy Whitney in his novels taught me to have faith in me.

“The foolish think the Eagle weak, and easy to bring to heel. The Eagle’s wings are silken, but its claws are made of steel”

To Sidney Sheldon. May your soul rest in peace

Some one!

Dr. Rajesh walked in to the class carrying the answer sheets. I knew I am going to be in trouble. Out of 20 questions, I could only answer 4 and in that 4 answers, one answer was wrong. I got the nerve supply for the shoulder joint wrong. If I had a little bit of common sense, I would have written Axillary nerve, as the shoulder joint is pretty close to the axilla. But like they say, common sense is not common at all! and I wrote radial nerve.
I waited for the torture session to begin.
Dr. Rajesh called the students who scored the highest mark first. I watched Aparna and Shylaja checking their answer sheets and comparing their marks. Aparan turned to look at me, with a look that said
Did you see? I got the highest mark!’ and I smiled at her with the look that said
‘Who cares! If you got the top score, Good for you!’
I knew I would be in the last few, but I didn’t feel so bad, because my saviour was there in the class. Himanshu, who is my super senior also wrote the test with us. This is the third year, he is re writing the first year exams.
Last time I scored one mark more than him! So I knew that there is nothing to worry.

Dr. Rajesh called “Himanshu”.
Himanshu got up, greeted everyone in the class with wave and a nod. Everyone started to laugh. I watched him walking down the steps confidentally with a huge grin on his face. How can he smile like that, when he knows he is going to be yelled at in a few seconds.
“Students, give Himanshu an applause. He passed his anatmoy test” Dr. Rajesh waved Himanshu’s answer sheets.
I watched in horror as Himanshu started to do a victory dance and everyone started to clap. This can’t be happening. Himanshu is supposed to fail, so I will have company.
I looked around the room, who else is there? Who else can give me company in the journey to the land of failures? What about Balaji? I looked for him. He already had an answer sheet infront of him. That means he too has passed. Why oh Why did I skip the classes?
“Ms. Thomas” Yelled Dr. Rajesh. Everyone turned to look at me. I wanted the earth to open and swallow me. But that didn’t happen. Somewhere at the back of my head I could hear Maria yelling
‘innu kittikkolum, innu kittikolum, dum dum dum’(you are going to be in hot soup. dum. dum. dum). She used to point her index finger and sing that every time I did something wrong. As a child that was the song that gave a forewarning that my sister is going to snitch on me and I am going to be in big trouble. I shook my head, so the song would stop. I was just about to walk down the steps when I heard Dr. Rajesh speak
“Oh Ms. Thomas, please don’t waste your energy and come down to the stage. Let me do the hard work and bring your answer sheets to you”
I was sitting in the last bench of the gallery. I watched Dr. Rajesh walking up the steps to where I was standing.
“Ms. Thomas, Why are you wasting your time here? You are from a rich family, aren’t you? Why don’t you tell your parents to save the money they are spending here for your text books and living expenses and use that money to get you married off? You are not going to pass medicine anyway!”
Everyone was laughing at me and Dr. Rajesh was enjoying every minute of tormenting me. I thought of telling him
‘What I do with my parents money is my business’. But the words didn’t come out. Dr. Rajesh sat on the desk and looked at me.
“Ms. Thomas, everyone one in this class wants to know why you wanted to do medicine?”
‘That again is none of your business Dr. Rajesh’. I wanted to tell him that. But again the words refused to come out of my mouth.
“How did you get admission to do medicine? Did you use your famous uncle’s influence?”
I was feeling so terrible. Why is my life so miserable? Why am I always getting in to trouble? I wanted to leave the college. May be I will go to Himalayas and stay there. Away from all these monsters.
I heard a bike sound, from where I stood I could see the area where all the seniors park their bikes. I looked outside. It must have been magic. I watched Beautiful eyes parking his bike. He got off the bike and looked around. He saw me getting yelled at. He started to smile and then he lifted both hands and showed me the thumbs up sign and I smiled.
“Why are you smiling? I say why are you smiling? You think this is funny? Get out of my class”
“Thank you sir” I was just so glad to get out of Dr. Rajesh’s class. Without wasting another second, I grabbed my books from the desk and started to walk down the steps, leaving Dr. Rajesh who was still sitting on my desk. My shoes was making the tak tak sound as I walked down and I wanted to irritate Dr. Rajesh some more. So I purposely stepped down on the steps to make maximum noise. I was still mad at Dr.Rajesh
“Sir, do you want me to close the door or leave it open?” I wanted him to know that I wouldn’t wither, just because he insulted me.
I didn’t bother to listen to his response. I just wanted to shake him a bit. If he wants to close the door, he can do it himself.
I stood in the corridoor trying to see what I should do, I had almost two hours of free time till lunch. I didn’t want to go back to the hostel and I didn’t want to go to the library. I was trying to figure out what I should do, when I noticed Princy walking in the corridoor. He was walking towards me and I knew I would be in trouble, if he sees me. I looked around. There were some seniors in the canteen. They must have finished the morning rounds and having their breakfast now. I wore my lab coat, so I would look like I just came back from the hospital and walked confidentally. When Princy came near me, I spoke confidentally
“Good morning Sir”
He nodded his head and said”Good morning”
Before he had a chance to ask me anything further, I walked as fast as my legs could carry. By the time all the neurons in Princy’s head send warning messages I was already in the canteen. I asked the first guy who was standing near the door.
“Is princy looking at me?”
“Can you help me? I don’t want him to catch me”
“Walk with me” He ordered
“Where are you going?”
“To the office you monkey.” I watched him wave to the Princy and together we walked to the office.
Nobody who bunks the class dares to go to the office especially during college hours. Princy’s peon is well known to snitch on the students. I wasn’t sure what master plan, my new found senior friend had in mind.
“Why did you bunk the class?”
“I Didn’t bunk, I was thrown out?”
“Who threw you out?”
“Dr. Rajesh”
“Because I laughed”
“Really? Rajesh threw you out because you laughed?”
“Hmm” I nodded my head
“Oh I forgot. My name is Paul”
“I am Nina”
“I know”
“What do you know?”
“I know your name, monkey”
“I am not a monkey”
“You are the only female monkey in the history of this college, who has been thrown out of the class, and you are getting upset because I called you a monkey?”
I didn’t reply, because I felt what Paul said was probably true.
When we reached the office, Princy’s peon was standing outside the door.
“What do you want?” He looked at both of us
“We want to see Princy”
“He just went to the pathology department”
“Oh! Will he be back soon?” I watched Paul looking at his watch
“may be another 15 minutes!”
“Oh Lord! My ENT class will start in 10 minutes. Tell you what I will come back after the class” Paul patted the peon’ shoulders and turned to walk back to the canteen.
“What is it regarding? I mean Why do you want to see the princy?” Peon asked
“Oh we need to discuss the arterial supply of anterior and posterior gluteus maximus”
“Oh ok” Princy’s peon just nodded his head, as though he understood

As I walked back to the canteen I asked Paul
“What was all that about? Gluteus maximus ?”
“Oh! That idiot has only studied up to the 10 std and he acts so big. You just have to use any high funda words to shut him up”
“Did you know someone has been wanting to meet you?”
“Someone. Come with me. I will introduce you”

Action and consequences!

As I walked with Ammachi, I thought of him. Does he know that my grandmother has been waiting for him all these years? What is this with men, that they just walk away and expect you to forget them and move on with your life? How could he do this to my grandmother?
I need to find him and give him a peice of my mind.
“Ammachi, what is ‘his’ name?”
“Just like that”
“No. I won’t tell you”
“Why not?”
“because I don’t want you to go and find him”
“Why not?”
“Nina, if he loves me, he will come back. I don’t want my grand daughter to search him for me. I know in my heart, he will come back one day!”
I didn’t say anything.We walked silently to the junction.

At the temple ground, Everytime Ammachi turned her head to look at the people around us, I too looked around, hoping that ‘he’ is among the crowd. I didn’t even know what I was looking for. How does he look? Does he have curly or straight hair? Is he fair or dark? I didn’t know that answer. All I wanted was for him to come back.
Much as I hated him, I wanted him to come back to Ammachi. I didn’t care if he was borrowed or bought. I wanted Ammachi to smile again. For her to validate her belief that she really found true love.
When the last Kathakali performance was over, I looked at Ammachi. What are the chances that I would be able to bring her for the next years Kathakali? How long will she last with that ache in her heart?
I got up and gave my hand to Ammachi. Her eyes looked so sad. I wished I could ease the pain in her heart. I wished Ammachi would find him again. But I knew in my heart, Ammachi wouldn’t find him in the temple ground!. But where else could I search for him?

“Nina, wake up” Ammachi was shaking my body and trying to wake me up. I was in no mood to wake up. After four days of watching Kathakali, I was exhausted. I am done with Kathakali!
Today is saturday and there is no need to wake up so early. All I wanted to do was to sleep. That too without being disturbed.
“Ammachi, Please leave me alone. I promise, I will get up in half an hour.”
“No. You are getting up now”
“Sorry Ammachi. I want to sleep and stop irritating me” I pulled the blanket on to my face. I really wanted to sleep. I could hear Ammachi’s foot steps and I lifted the corner of the blanket and peeped. She was going to the kitchen. She must have gone to make lunch. I will get up soon and help her. I closed my eyes.

“When I asked your father to wake up, he listened and you think you can disobey me” I heard Ammachi yell and before I could react, My face was drenched in water.
I pulled the wet blanket from my face and found my grandmother standing next to me holding the water jug. My dress was getting soaked and I got up quickly from the bed.
“You threw water on my face? How dare you do that? Look at what you have done!. You even made my pillow wet. How will I sleep tonight?” I was so mad at Ammachi
“Well, I told you to get up and you didn’t listen to me”
“So you will throw water on me? I told you I will get up in half an hour, Didn’t I? Why are you in a hurry? What will happen if I slept for another half an hour? Is the house on fire?”
“Nina, When are you going back to your college?”
“Oh, you want me to go away? Good timing! When the Kathakali is finished you are kicking me out eh? Am I like a curry leaf in the moru(yogurt curry). When you no longer have any use of me, you throw me out, like you throw the curry leaf before eating the curry,right?”
“Oh Nina, it is not like that”
“Don’t Oh Nina me. I don’t want to talk to you anymore. You are just like everyone in my family. I am only needed till your needs are met!” I quikly walked to the bathroom. I was so mad at Ammachi. I slammed the door shut. I looked around to find a plce to sit. Like most of the olden houses in Kerala, we had a separate room for bathing. There was a built in water tub in the corner. Ammachi fills the tub by pouring the water through the inlet outside the bathroom. I wanted to take my shower. I dipped my hand in the water. it was very cold. There is no way I am going to bath using the cold water. I will warm some water in the pan and mix it with the freezing cold water in the tub.
I opened the door to go out. I nearly stepped in to a pan of hot water. Ammachi had already heated up the water for me. She must have heated the water before trying to wake me up. She would have known, I wouldn’t take a cold shower. I looked at the two pot holders on either side of the pan. She even left the pot holders there, so I won’t burn my fingers carrying the hot pan. Only then did I look at the clothesline in the bathroom. My towel and salwar was hung on the clothesline. Goodness, she even got my cloths ready and I had the temerity to scream at her.
I felt so sorry for shouting at Ammachi. I had to tell her I am sorry. I found Ammachi in the kitchen. She was stirring the fish curry in the pot. She heard my footsteps and looked at me.
“Ammachi, I am sorry”
She turned her head the otherway and continued to stir the fish curry, totally ignoring me. I deserved this. I yelled at my poor grandmother
I walked up to her and tried to hug her.”Please forgive me”. She pushed me away.
“What did you say? You said I treated you like a curry leaf? Do you have any idea, how I wait for you every single day of my life? I know it isn’t possible for you to come that often, Still I think, may be it is a holiday in Bangalore and you would come to visit me. Every saturday I sit on the parapet wall, waiting for you. When I hear the bus stopping at the junction, I feel so excited. I look and look and look at the bund road to see if you are coming. I sit here and wait. Whatelse can I do?”
Ammachi started to sob. I hated myself for my stupid temper. Why do I have to make an old woman cry like this?
“I am sorry Ammachi. I am so sorry. But why did you have to throw water on my face? You are the one who made me angry”
“Nina, I thought if you leave today, then you can rest for a day, before your classes start on monday”
Classes start on Monday? What was that about? I wondered.
I had completely forgotten about my other life. I suddenly got worried. What would happen if Amma or Maria made a surprise visit to the college and found that my already dead grandfather is seriously ill? Suddenly there was an urgent need to go back to the college, before I get in to any serious trouble.
“You are right Ammachi. It is time for me to go back. Otherwise they might think my grandfather died already!” I was afraid that Princy would ask for Photographic evidence of the funeral!
“Grandfather died? Which grandfather?”
Oh oh! That is all I could think. Quick Nina, quick, think something quick, before you are buried alive. I thought
“Oh nothing Ammachi. I will take my bath, before the water in the pan cools” I quickly turned to walk away from a potentially dangerous situation.
nikkadi avidey(stop right there young lady)”
I so very badly wanted to run away to the safety of the bathroom. But my legs didn’t move.
I turned to look at Ammachi. She was staring at me. Should I tell her the truth?
“Which grandfather died Nina?”
“Ammachi, promise me you won’t get angry with me”
“Answer me!”
“You promise first”
“I will decide, if I should get angry after you tell me the truth. So go on, tell me the truth”
“I wanted to take you to watch Kathakali, so I asked my friend to send a telegram saying that my grandfather is seriously ill”
“Good Lord, I thought you had holidays! So you didn’t have holidays? You actually skipped the classes to come here?”
I nodded my head.
“Oh Nina, why did you do that? How can you be so irresponsible? If you don’t study, then how will you pass your examinations?”
“Don’t worry Ammachi, I will study hard and I promise you I will pass all the exams” I had no idea how I am going to do that.

There was hardly any passengers in my compartment. Everyone would have gone back to Bangalore after the Christmas holidays.
I thought of my grandmother. I could see her sitting on the parapet wall, till I reached the bund road. I knew for sure, she was crying. How does she survive living in that house all alone? I have another four and half years more to finish medicine. How often can I come home? Why can’t Appa come back and take care of his aging mother? I wished my father understood how much Ammachi is struggling. I wished my father would once stop thinking about himself.

Aparna and Shylaja were busy studying when I reached the hostel.
“Nina, how is your grandfather?” Both of them asked as soon as they saw me
“He is better now. What are you studying on sunday morning?”
“We have anatomy exam tomorrow”
“Tomorrow? Which chapter?”
“We finished Upper limb dissection on friday”
“What? you finished the entire upper limb? We were doing cubital fossa on monday. How can you finish all that in 5 days?”
Aparna shrugged her shoulder. “We will be starting dissection of the thorax on tuesday.”
I knew I should have never skipped the classes. But I did it and now I must pay. I have to study the entire upper limb in one day.

Justice for Altantuya Shaaribuu

The regime of fear!

Sorry Guys, this isn’t part of my story, but something more serious.
This is something that affects the life of an average Malaysian. For years the ruling party has used Internal Security Act(ISA) to silence ordinary Malaysians.
But now they are going after bloggers, who have been trying to tell the truth to the world.
Two Malaysian bloggers are sued by a leading daily for defamation.
Truth apparently hurts!
“Bloggers United” is our way to stand together at a time like this.This post is dedicated to the Bloggers in Malaysia
Rocky & Jeff Ooi. Who dared to stand up and do the right thing!

Together we stand, For our country.

Following is the official statement from Bloggers United, drafted by Susan Loone and Sheih of Kickdefella
We, Malaysian bloggers, we, who believe in justice and right to free speech, we, who endorse the Bloggers United movement, unanimously condemn the action taken by media conglomerate NST against bloggers Rocky Bru and Jeff Ooi. The action by the newspaper against the duo is an action against all bloggers who believe in their right to free speech, freedom of expression and justice.
The recent event may seem like a grave development in the path of bloggers, but it can never and must never impede or stop us from defending our right to speak, to express, to write and to tell the truth, to be the watchdog, eyes and ears of the people, or simply to share our view, and give fair comment on any subject which involves and affects us as humans, as rightful citizens of this country.

The recent event may very well give the government owned media the opportunity to dictate the so-called ‘truth” but such actions only prove that bloggers must unite, continue to uphold the right to free speech and freedom of expression, fight for justice, even if it is not our own, be more alert, committed to the cause of free speech, relentless and persistence in the face of such persecution like the one which had befallen on the two of us.

What YOU do to any of US, is what YOU do to ALL.

As responsible bloggers, we demand and claim our space on the blogosphere for free and fair comment, where important national issues and prominent personalities are discussed.

Although it may seem as if the NSTP defamation suits will have a chilling effect on freedom of bloggers, as litigation can be expensive and may jeorpadise a blogger’s economic position, we will not be cowed or silenced by those who have no regard for free speech.

If you find our post offensive, you may refute us with correct facts and figures and fair comment, in the spirit of free speech.

The first two cases will have grave impact not only on the internet, but country as a whole as the country celebrates VMY2007. The healthy, mature and democratic growth for free speech and expression in our midst is at stake. The reputation of the nation as it strives to promote our multimedia supercorridor and love for IT will be a national joke for all the world to feast on.

We demand for a level playing field in all action meted out to bloggers and in particular in the defamation proceedings particularly in terms of financial resources and capabilities, and secondly, that the legal rights of bloggers et al are properly protected in keeping with the imperatives of an information society and knowledge economy which Malaysia aspires to become.

Fitted to size

After dinner Ammachi and I went to sit down on the parapet wall. I lay my head on Ammachi’s lap. Some where in the distant I could hear the frogs croaking. I looked at the sky to see if it would rain. Frogs always croak before a rain!.
The sky was clear, with not a cloud in sight. There were so many stars in the sky. Ammachi was looking down at my face and I thought she had such beautiful eyes. I remembered the short story I read in one of those malayalam magazines years ago.
“Do you want to hear a story?” I asked Ammachi
“I read this story in a magazine( either mangalam or manoram weekly) and I liked it very much”
“Is it a romantic story?”
“No, Do you want to hear the story or not?”
“Didn’t I say ‘ofcourse’ a minute ago?”
“Then stop asking questions. I will not tell you a story if you keep asking me questions!”
“Ok. One day a newly married couple went to the beach” Before I could continue Ammachi spoke
“See, it is a romantic story!”
“Go, I am not telling you any story”
Aiyyah, Don’t stop now Nina, please continue the story, you are my precious grand daughter! Please!” Ammachi pinched my cheeks
“If you interrupt me one more time, I will stop telling you the story. Do you understand that?”
Ammachi nodded her head
“They went to the beach to watch the sunset. After the sun set, slowly stars started to appear in the sky. The wife looked at the stars and told her husband, ‘oh my darling, the stars are so pretty, but they are so far away. I can’t even touch them. Her husband touched her cheeks and told her’ Oh my darling, you are so wrong, the stars are right here in your eyes and I can touch them all the times'”
“Then what happend?” Ammachi asked and I stared at her”Oh Nina I am sorry, I am so sorry to interrupt you, please tell me the rest of the story”
I couldn’t get angry with Ammachi, so I started to speak
“As the years went by, they both were busy building a life together, they had two kids, they bought a house and a car and one day on their way to some place, they came by the beach again. Wife asked her husband if they could watch the sunset together? Her husband was in a hurry, but still, he decided to watch the sunset with his wife.
As the sun set and the first star that appeared in the horizon, wife remembered what her husband told her when they were at the beach many years ago as a newly married couple.
And she spoke ‘oh my darling the stars are so pretty, but they are so far away and I just can’t touch them’ and her husband replied’ Are you mad? who can touch a star? it is zillions of kilometers away! Don’t be so stupid!’

Ammachi and I looked at the stars above. How many broken hearts did those stars seen each night?
“Ammachi, do you have any regrets?” I asked
“What do you mean by regrets?”
“Have you ever regretted anything that you did?”
“No” Ammachi shook her head
I was hoping for a different answer. I was sure Ammachi had regrets. Come on, She became a widow at the age of 18, was almost murdered by her mother in law, raised her 2 children all by herself and lost the guy she loved the most. It is impossible that she didn’t have any regrets. I rephrased the question.
“Ammachi, if there is one thing you could change in your life what would that be?”
“But you can’t change the past Nina. It is like the stone you threw in to the waterfall, it is gone forever.”
“I know you can’t change the past, but just pretend that you can!. Assume the genie gave you the power to change anything, what would you change in your life?”
“What do you mean nothing? Wouldn’t you want to spend your life with ‘him’? I am sure you wanted a better life instead of struggling like this, don’t you Ammachi?”
“No” She shook her head. There are moments I get so mad at Ammachi. I know she is more wiser than me. But I absolutely hate it when Ammachi tries to be all holy and nice. I always wanted a different life. Actually I wanted a different family. Everytime I saw my friends with their family, I wished I had a family like that, instead of a mother who hates me and a father who keeps running away from his wife and children. If I could change one thing in my life I would change my family
“Nina, can you wear Sally’s shoes?”
shoes? What is wrong with my grandmother? Why is she talking about shoes? And that too such a dumb question. How can I wear my youngest sister’s shoes?
“Sally’s shoes are too small for me Ammachi”
“Exactly my point”
“What point”
“Your life is fitted for your size. There is no point looking for a different size. It won’t fit.”
I looked at Ammachi, trying to understand what she was trying to tell me. But nothing made sense to me
“Nina, only you can be Nina, only you can be the Nina of the Thomas family. Nobody else can live in a family like yours. Similarly, Only I can live in this house alone all these years. Would you have been able to live my life Nina?”
“No” I shook my head. There is no way I would have survived carrying all the burdens that Ammachi carried.
“And I wouldn’t have been able to live your life either?”
“What do you mean? What is wrong with my life?”
“Nothing is wrong. It is just that I wouldn’t have been able to go to a medical college and study.”
“Why not?”
” I am scared of dead bodies!”
“What?” I looked at my grandmother. “You mean Methran Thambi’s wife is scared of something? Oh my goodness, this is hot news, I will call the radio station. They should broadcast it right now. How can you be scared of dead bodies? They are dead. They can’t do anything to you”
“Go, I am not talking to you”
“Oh Thangamma, don’t be mad. I was just teasing you. Sorry”
njan koottu vetti”(I am not your friend any more)
Ammachi touched her tongue with her right hand, crossed the index fingers of both hands and pulled the fingers apart. I looked at Ammachi.
Sometimes when older people do silly things, you would be overwhelmed with a feeling to nurture and protect them. Here is my grandmother, who is 5 decades older than me and doing things I have done as a school girl many many years ago. I had even forgotten all those friendship signs, Alice and I used to use to communicate when I was at school.
That was the moment I realized Shakespeare’s 7 stages of life was playing all the while and finale has begun.

The Seven Ages of Man

William Shakespeare

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing

I don’t know what made me more afraid, was it the fact that I was in level 4 of the play or that Ammachi won’t be around much longer? I couldn’t bear the pain and I got up to go back inside the house.
“Nina, Did I make you upset, I was just pretending that I am not your friend, I didn’t mean it. ” Ammachi spoke
“I know” I didn’t want Ammachi to see me crying, so I didn’t turn around
“Are you crying Nina? Why are you crying? Is it because I said I am afraid of dead bodies?”
“I am not crying Ammachi” I quickly wiped the tears and turned around to look at her. I smiled at her
Ammachi was staring at me. I knew she can’t see me clearly from far. So I walked towards her
“See, I am not crying. I am smiling”
Ammachi looked at me and smiled
“You are just like me Nina”
“What do you mean?”
“You can smile through the tears. You were crying because you thought I would be a dead body soon, weren’t you Nina Thomas?”
I didn’t respond
“Tell you what, we have these moments, why don’t we enjoy these moments, than worry about deadbodies? Go and change, I want to watch nalacharitham part 2


Love! All I ever wanted in life was to be loved. I wanted Appa and Amma to love each other and stop fighting. I really wanted Amma to love me the same way she loves Maria. I love my parents and my sisters so much. But that isn’t the same love I felt when I saw ‘beautiful eyes’ at the canteen for the first time, I knew I was in love, because I wanted to speand the rest of my life with him.

I looked at Ammachi. She loves ‘him’ and he probably loves her. He was there for Ammachi when she needed someone to love her. But what exactly is love? Is there a way to define love?
“I don’t know Ammachi. I really don’t know how to define love”
“Who do you love the most Nina?”
That was the easiest question. There is no one I love more than Ammachi.
“I love you the most Ammachi”
“Because you are my grandmother”
“How many grandmothers do you have?”
I tried to figure out why Ammachi is asking such stupid questions.
“2” I replied
“Nina Why do you love one grandmother more than the other?”
“Because you have been there for me from the beginning. And I know you love me for what I am”
“No Nina, you don’t love me because I love you. You love me, because I fill the void in your heart. There is a place in your heart that craves for a grandmother’s love. I fill that void like a sealant”
I didn’t understand what Ammachi was trying to tell me.
“Nina, when an aluminium pot has a crack in it, what do you do?”
I was almost about to say that, we will throw it away, but I knew that probably wasn’t the correct answer. At home, we only had one aluminium soup pot that Amma had brought with us from Penang. It is still brand new because Amma never ever used it. She is keeping that for Maria, to be given along with the knife set, dinner set, cooking range etc when Maria gets married.

“I don’t know Ammachi”
Aiyyah” She shook her head. “Go and bring me the rice pot” She pointed the the rice pot that was on the kitchen counter.
I took the pot and passed it to Ammachi, all the while wondering what love has got to do with aluminium pots.
I watched Ammachi turning the pot over and looking at the base.
“Can you see this?” She showed me the base.
I looked at what she was pointing. Oh yeah, it looked like something was stuck there, like the bubble gum under the desk!
“Nina, I have been using this pot to cook rice for more than 15 years. Over the years, the pot started to develop tiny cracks. This is my favourite pot and although I could buy a new pot, I didn’t want to throw this pot away. So I use a sealant to seal the cracks.”
“Nina, Love is nothing but a sealant that fills the crack/void in the heart”
The master has spoken the words of wisdom, but the disciple had no idea what she meant. I felt incredibily stupid standing infront of my grandmother and watching the base of an old aluminium pot. “You didn’t get it, Did you?”
I shook my head to say No
“When a pot develops a crack, you take the special sealant they sell at the market, heat it and apply the melted mix on to the crack. The melted sealant seeps through the crack and fill the void, it hardens as it cools and seal it. Love is like the sealant Nina, it has no use on its own, but when there is a need, it can be melted over the fire and use it.”
“No Ammachi, love is not like that, love is what you feel in your heart”
“What do you feel in your heart Nina?”
“Love! I feel the love I have for you in my heart”
“Nina, how many grandchildren do I have?”
“6” I replied, as though Ammachi doesn’t know!
“How many of them come and visit me?”
“I am the only one among the six that visits you. See Ammachi, that is excatly my point. I am the only one who loves you and I feel that love in my heart. “
“You are the only one who can and want to fill the void in my heart Nina, there is a place in my heart that was void of grandchildren’s love. Your love is like a sealant, that fills that void. You know that and you keep coming to fill the void.”

“Ammachi,What about Apppa and Amma? Why don’t they love each other?”
“That is because, You just can’t use the sealant meant for aluminium on a clay pot” Ammachi was smiling and I couldn’t help but agree that she was right.

“So who do you think is the clay pot? Appa or Amma?”
“I think your father is the clay pot and every time the hot aluminium sealant is applied on the clay pot, it cracks the pot more as it cools! Don’t you agree?”

I nodded my head
“Nina, the thing about love is, when you love someone you will have to change a part of you, like the heat is used to melt the sealant. You cannot love without changing yourself. Most people are afraid to change themselves, so they expect others to change. It doesn’t work that way! A hard,lumpy sealant is no use to anyone. You shouldn’t be afraid to change Nina and more importantly you shouldn’t be afraid to love”
I thought of ‘beautiful eyes’. I wanted him to be with me, share my life. But at the same time I was afraid that one day he would leave me and I will be left all alone with a broken heart.
“What if you love someone and he leaves you?”
Ammachi looked at me and I realized how dumb that question was. I should have used my brain, before asking such a stupid question. I should have thought about Ammachi’s feelings. Before I could ask forgiveness Ammachi spoke
“Nina, it would only hurt you, if you are building the castles for tomorrow. When you love, you don’t live for tomorrow. You live for that moment, that day. Not for the next day or the day after. That is why I told you not to be afraid to love. You are afraid for the unknown tomorrow”
“Ammachi, how can you live each day, when the person you love isn’t with you?”
“Because you have good memories that can last a life time”

Dear readers: Thank you very much for the comments.
I know I haven’t been replying to the comments for the last one week. I will reply soon!


“Nina, go and wash the rice. We will make dinner” Ammachi handed the steel bowl with rice to me. I walked towards the well and even before I reached the well I heard Ammachy screaming
“Oh my goodness, who did this?”
I turned to look. Ammachi was taking out the firewood from under the kitchen counter. I remembered the coconut half I hid beneath the firewood.
Damn it, I was planning to bury that later and I completely forgot about it.
“Nina Thomas come here right now” Ammachi yelled
I ran towards the well.
Quickly I dropped the bucket in to the well and pulled the water filled bucket up. Usually I only change the water 3 times, when I wash the rice, but today I was in a mood to wash the rice well, hoping that the delay would make Ammachi less mad!
“Nina” I could hear her shouting my name
I pretended I didn’t hear her and I started to sing at the top of my voice.
en prana nathan ennu varum
ennu theerum en vedanakal”
(When would my darling come and take away all these heartaches!)
“He is on his way! what is this Nina?” I turned to look. Ammachi was standing outside the kitchen door with the coconut in her hand.
“I think that is a coconut Ammachi? Where did you get it?” I asked as innocently as I can
“Where did I get it? You think you can fool me? How dare you try to cheat me like this?”
padachoney(dear lord)! me, a cheater? How can you call me a cheater? When did I ever cheat you?”
I took the bowl and walked towards Ammachi
“You didn’t cheat? Then what was this coconut doing under the firewood?”
“I kept it there for safe keeping!”
“Safe keeping, ninte ammente thala(your mother’s head!). Do you think money grows on tress?”
“Goodness. No, money doesn’t grow on trees, but coconut does!”
ninne njan( I will kill you)”
Oh pinney! pandan nayude pallinu shouryam pandey pole falikkunnilla!”
(the good old dog has lost all the hallmark ferociousness!)
I winked at Ammachi and quickly walked inside, half expecting her to twist my ears. She didn’t. I turned to look at her. She was standing by the door and staring at me.
“what?” I asked
“Nothing” She shook her head
“What is it Ammachi?”
“I don’t know Nina, when you sang that song, I thought about Chackochan. Remember how angry he got when he came to fight with me after I broke his bund and flooded his fields and I sang the same song for him? Do you think I hurt his feelings?”
“Hurt Chackochan’s feelings? No Ammachi, I don’t think you did that.”
“You know, He was like a brother to me. There were times, when your father and aunty was little, we didn’t have any food.”
“How is that possible Ammachi? We grew all the vegetables and rice in our land?”
“Oh Nina, if your father needs a new shirt, I need to sell what grew in the land! and sometimes the rain and the rats would destroy all the crops and I am forced to sell the products that I kept for our own consumption. Most often the next day morning there would be a yam or colocassia outside the kitchen door. He never once said, it was he who was doing it, but I knew it was his work”
“I know Nina!”
“How do you know?”
“Because one time I saw him coming to my house holding a big elephant yam in the night”
“May be he was in love with you!” I said in jest
“What is love Nina?”
Ammachi’s question was like a thunderbolt that gave me a million volt shock. Until now for me life was all about finding the right guy and falling in love. But what is love?
Dear readers what does Love mean to you?


“Ammachi, I need to lay down for a few minutes. My head is hurting” I whispered.
“Nina, What is wrong?”
What is wrong? After all that happend today, my grandmother wants to know what is wrong? I thought of asking her what is right? I didn’t even know if there is such a thing called right and wrong!
“Headache” I whispered and went to Ammachi’s room to lay down. I looked at the two beds in the room. We had taken the mat from under my bed with us when we went to watch the Kathakali and now I didn’t have the energy to put it back and lay down. I lay down on Ammachi’s bed and closed my eyes. All I wanted was to sleep, but I just couldn’t sleep.
The jasmine flowers Ammachi had kept in the plate was already stinking and a crow was cawing somewhere outside. The flowers and the crow reminded me of him and it occured to me, I am laying down on the same bed! I felt so sick. I got up to go and lay down on my bed.
“What is it Nina?” Ammachi was standing near the door holding a bowl
“I can’t sleep Ammachi”
“Lay down, I got medicine for you” She showed me the green colour concoction in the bowl. She must have made some herbal remedy
I walked towards my bed.
“Oh Nina, don’t worry about dirtying my pillow. I can always wash it later”
Dirtying her pillows? Oh, she must be thinking that I don’t want to lay down on her bed, because the medicine might stain her pillows. How am I going to tell her, that is not the reason.
I couldn’t, much as the idea of laying down in that bed repulsed me, I couldn’t tell Ammachi what was bothering me.
“Come Nina, lay down”
Ammachi was walking towards her bed and I followed her and lay down on her bed. Ammachi sat next to me
“Close you eyes Nina”. Ammachi took the green herbal paste and started to apply on my forehead. It felt so good, when she applied the cold herbal paste on my forehead
I did what I was told and closed my eyes. But then all I could see was my grandmother and him, singing kananacholayil adine meyikkan(old Malayalam romantic song). Then I saw my mother and father singing the same song, then it was me, I saw myself singing the song with ‘beutiful eyes’. I knew I was going completely crazy. May be everyone will get me admitted to some mental hospital. Perhaps it is all for the best. I could see the sign board outside the door that said Nina Thomas: Mentally ill, instead of MBBS.

“Nina, wake up. You shouldn’t be sleeping at moovanthi neram( at the time of actual sun set). Wake up.” Ammachi started to shake me
I got up and sat down on the bed. Perhaps everything was just a dream. I felt something was stuck on my forehead and I tried to rub it off. As I started to rub the medicine off from my forehead, it occured to, all that happend was not a dream.
I looked outside, it was almost getting dark.
“Come Nina, I made coffee for you”
I gently shook my head to see if I still have a head ache. Fortunately I didn’t have any head ache. I got up and followed Ammachi. The house was almost dark, except for the light coming from the woodfire in the kitchen.
I switched on the light in the living room. I looked around the room. Everything in the room was the same, since the first time I came to this house. I looked at the settee. The wooden settee was handmade by my grandfather. How many times Ammachi yelled at my sisters and I for jumping on the setteee, saying we are spoiling the settee.
Did ‘he’ sit on this settee? Is that why it was so precious to Ammachi?

From the distance I could hear kelikottu annoucing the second day of the Kathakali. I remembered all the times Ammachi took me to watch Kathakali. Wasn’t that an excuse to go and see him? How could she use me as an excuse to go and watch Kathakali?
I tried to remember all the people we met at the temple grounds. I just couldn’t picture ‘him’ amongst all the people. How did he look? What was his name?

“What are you thinking Nina?” Ammachi was looking at me standing near the kitchen table
“Oh nothing Ammachi” I quickly walked to the kitchen. A part of me understood Ammachi’s loneliness, a part of me understood how hard it was for her to meet someone, a part of me also felt the wailings from another woman’s broken heart.
I wanted to hate Ammachi, but the thing about hating is, you just can’t hate the people you love the most, how much ever you wish you could. I felt hatred is like the weed in the paddy field, it grows along with the paddy, it gets pulled out each and every time, yet it still grows, always with the paddy. May be love and hatred are always together. May be a part of me will always hate Ammachi.

Ammachi had made coffee for me and I sat on the bench and drank slowly. The coffee smelled of smoke and it tasted terrible.
“What happend to him?” I asked
Ammachi looked at me and I asked again
“So what happend to him?”
“Don’t know”
“What do you mean, you don’t know?”
“I don’t know Nina”
I was tired of these games Ammachi was playing. She was the one who wanted me to know about him and when I ask her anything about him, she says she doesn’t know! I regretted even asking Ammachi anything about him. I thought,as far as I am concerned, he was a jerk. A real one! and I didn’t want to know anything more about him.
“Nina, your mother came home once after Maria was born. While I was at the rubber estate, She went through all the stuff I kept in the cupboard and found the saree that I kept underneath all the clothes. When I came back in the afternoon, she was holding the saree in her hand and standing by the kitchen door”
“I was so mad that she touched my precious saree, so I tried to snatch it from her”
“Then what happend?”
“She refused to give it back, unless I tell her who gave it to me”
“Did you tell her?” I hoped Ammachi had a little bit of common sense and not tell Amma anything.
“No(, I didn’t”
Phew! I was so relieved. My mother is someone, one should never divulge sensitive information, because she will use that information to manipulate you.
“Then what happend?” I asked Ammachi
“Your mother did what she was good at! She went around asking everyone who was my lover? She even went to the church and asked the achen(priest) about the man who gave me saree. Till then I was just the ordinary Thangamma, Methran Thambi’s widow.
In an instant I became the Thangamma, the adulteress, the husband snatcher.
Nina, all of a sudden from a lonely widow, I became the witch who couldn’t control her desires even after having a grand daughter!
Soon the word spread around and the neighbourhood women began to wonder, if I entertained their husbands at night. Can you imagine that Nina?”

“Do you know how much it hurts when people who once respected me started to make fun of me when I went to the market to sell the vegetables?”
I shook my head
“That was not the worst part. Do you know how many times, the society gentle men, who mocked and laughed at me in the morning when I went to the market had come in the middle of the night and knocked at my door, saying Thangamma, it is me, open the door!? Until then, no one dared to walk in to my land during the day time and all of a sudden, people were knocking my door at night!”
Oh my goodness! That is all I could think
“What did you do Ammachi?”
“Dogs! I started keeping dogs, I would unleash them at night”
I couldn’t help smile and I asked Ammachi
“So how many gentle men had to get anti rabies injection?”
“I am sure Nina, it would be my dogs that needed the injection, if they bit the rabid society gentle men!”
I was sure Ammachi was right.
“Ammachi,What happend to the saree?”
“Your mother took it home, to show the proof to your father”
“Did Appa ever ask you anything about it?”
“No, he didn’t”
“You think he knew? You think Amma told him?”
“I don’t know Nina”
“Did anyone know who ‘he’ was Ammachi?”
Ammachi shook her head and said “No”
“Then what happend?”
“Nina, this morning you asked me, if I ever thought about his wife. The truth is, I did. I was worried for her. I knew people will eventually find out who it was and the news would reach her. I didn’t want her to get hurt. So I told him it is over. I told him not to come to my house Nina. I told the only man I ever loved not to visit me!”
Ammachi was crying and I felt so ashamed of myself. I should have known my grandmother would never hurt anyone else.
” I know one day he will come back Nina. I know he loves me. I have been waiting every single day, just to hear his footsteps outside my door.”
“What makes you think that he will come back Ammachi?”
“What makes you think, he won’t Nina?”


“You could have looked anywhere Ammachi, but not at another woman’s husband! How could you do such a thing?”
“I am sorry Nina, All I ever wanted was to be loved once in my life! I didn’t want to hurt anyone”
“You didn’t? Ofcourse you did. You did hurt that man’s wife. You should have thought about her. What has she done to you?”
Ammachi didn’t respond and I was so mad at her.
“You are the cause of all the trouble in this family. You should have raised my father well, if you did, my parents would still be married to each other and I would have had a father and a mother. You were such a bad example!”
“I am so sorry Nina I never meant to hurt anyone.”
“Too late Ammachi. Too late. And you thought I would still love you after hearing your side of the story? No wonder my mother hates you.”
Ammachi was sobbing and I didn’t feel sorry for her. I hated her. Till now, I loved her more than anything. She was the most perfect person I have ever known and now I realized, she was the worst of the lot. No wonder my whole family is all screwed up. The rot started from the head.
There was no point staying another minute in this house that I called home. I had to get out of the house. I went in to the bedroom and picked up my bag.
Ammachi looked at me with tears in her eyes. I didn’t bother to say bye to her. She just wasn’t worthy of my love.
She had the audacity to tell me that, she was only borrowing someone else’s husband. How low can she sink? Whatever happend to all the rights and wrongs she taught me all these while?
My head was hurting and the sun was shining bright. When I reached the junction, Shankaran Chettan saw me and he called out to me. I pretended I didn’t hear him. I didn’t want to do anything more with any one in Chengannur town. I am going back to Bangalore, to my college.

I got in to the first autorickshaw that was waiting near the bus stop.
“Where to?” the driver asked
“Railway station” My head was hurting so badly and I leaned my head to the side of the rickshaw
“Chechy eviduthey aa?( Where are you from?) the driver asked as soon as he started the rickshaw.
“Stop the rickshaw” I screamed
“Why? What? I thought you wanted to go to the railway station” The driver turned to look at me
I was just so sick of the malayalee inquisitiveness.
“If you want me to travel in your auto rickshaw, you will shut your mouth. Or I will take some other auto. Do you understand that?” I screamed. It felt so good to scream at someone.
May be the driver understood that I was angry. He drove silently.

I bought my ticket and went to sit in the platform. I had more than 3 hours of waiting before the train to Bangalore arrives. I found a shady spot in the platform and sat down. My head and my eyes were hurting and all I wanted was to sleep for a little while. I felt, perhaps all this is a bad dream and life would return to normal once I wake up.
When I closed my eyes all I could see was Ammachi’s tear stained face . Serves her right!. She should cry. She hurt an innocent woman. I tried to shut the sad face of Ammachi out.
Little while later I heard the announcement that some long distance train would be arriving in platform number 1 shortly. My head was hurting so much, so I closed my eyes. I could hear the train arriving, people shouting and the guard whistiling. It was so noisy and my headache was worsening by the minute. I was just so glad to hear the train whistling and soon the train left the platform.

It was the constant cawing of the crow that woke me up. I noticed a crow on the railway track. The wretched crow was digging the remanents of someone’s lunch parcel that was thrown in to the railway track. I looked at the amount the thrash thrown on the tracks. When will Indians learn a little bit of cleaniliness? I wondered.
I watched the crow pecking and removing the news paper wrappings and then pecking to remove the banana leaf. Every few seconds it would lift its head to see if any other crows are waiting around to steal its food. I was just about to shut my eyes, when I noticed another crow that was sitting on the platform flying straight to where the first crow was eating. It was amusing to watch the aniques of the two crows, how one that originally found the parcel would chase the new comer, so it doesn’t have to share the food and how the other one would wait for a chance to take a stolen bite. Soon their cawing attracted plenty of other crows and I watched the crow that found the lunch parcel pecking and chasing the other crows. I felt so much of anger when I saw how selfish the crow was.
May be my eyes were hurting because of the headache, may be I realized what kind of a hypocrite I was becoming, tears started to roll down my cheeks. There was only one thing to do. I ran down the steps.
“Ticket” Shouted the ticket examiner. I handed him my unused ticket. I didn’t have time cancel the ticket and ask for a refund. There were someone more precious than a 100 Rs worth ticket.
I ran to the auto stand and took the first auto that was waiting in the queue.
“Will you please hurry up?” I asked the auto driver
“ethentha ammakku vayu gulika vangikkan povuka?”( are you in a rush to buy medicine?)
I contemplated committing homicide, I could just reach the idiot’s neck through the gap that separates the passenger from the driver and wring his neck.
When the auto reached the junction near home, I got down quickly and ran all the way back home. For the second time since my arrival to Chengannur I prayed
Lord keep my grandmother safe. Don’t let her do anything stupid. Don’t let there be any othalanga on that tree. Don’t let her jump in to the well, don’t let her do anything where I can’t do anything to save her life.
What if she really did something stupid? How am I going to rush her to the hospital? My house is so far away from the main road and now there is no one at Chackochan’s house either.
These are the moments you need a man and I didn’t know any man who could help me and in an instant I understood what my grandmother went through.

When I reached the paddy fields, I looked to see if Ammachi is sitting on the veranda. I was just so relieved to see her sitting in the same place she was sitting before I left. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me.
“Ammachi” I called as soon as I reached the steps leading to our house.
She didn’t move
“Ammachi, Ammachi” I shouted. She didn’t move. I ran to where she was sitting. I looked around to see if she consumed any poison. There was nothing. I started to shake her body.
“Ammachi, open your eyes”
She opened her eyes slowly. Her eyes were red. She just stared at me.
“Ammachi, I am sorry, please forgive me, I don’t have any rights to judge you. I love you for what you are. You are still the best grandmother in the whole world. I am sorry for speaking all those stupid things. Please, please, please forgive me”
I held her hands, it was cold. I looked at her chest to make sure she is breathing. She stared at me for a long time and then whispered slowly
“I thought you would never come back. What made you come back Nina?”
“hmm, kakka” I nodded my head
JL: Now you know the crow story!


“Why are you smiling Nina?”
I looked up to see Ammachi staring at me. She started to frown and I felt it is only fair that I tell her why I was smiling.
athey I finally figured what ails me!”
I looked at my grandmother to see her reaction. She was staring at me, trying to understand what I am saying
“Ammachi, all these while, everytime I looked at a man, the only thing I ever noticed was his eyes. Some people have such beautiful eyes, you know, those small tiny eyes that holds so much of emotions. I love to look at those eyes. I am sure I can cetainly spend a life time just looking at those eyes.!”
“Oh, so that is what you are doing at the medical college, Instead of studying. I will have to write to your father and let him know”
“Ofcourse, do you have his address? I can give you if you don’t have it. But don’t forget to add, ‘Nina is just like me, She likes beautiful eyes’. “I looked at my grandmother to see her reaction. She was smiling. She wiped her face with her palm and got up.
“Come, I will show you something”
I gave her my hand to hold and we walked towards the nutmeg tree. I was a bit afraid to walk that side. What if there really was a well? I didn’t want to be buried alive in a land slide.
Ammachi touched the tree trunk and spoke
“After the well was levelled, I planted this tree here. You know, somedays when I am overwhelmed with loneliness, I come and stand here and look at this tree and I can hear your father telling me
“Ammeykku njan illey”(you have me Amma!). Ammachi started to sob again.
I looked at the tree. I couldn’t hear my father telling anything. Instead, I hugged Ammachi and told her
“Why are you crying now? Ammachikku njan illey(you have me Ammachi)”
“No Nina, you too will leave me one day.”
“No I won’t”
“Yes you will. One day you will get married and go to your husband’s house. That is how it works”
“Then I am not getting married”
“Nina, don’t speak for the sake of speaking. You don’t want to get married? Then who will take care of you when you are old? Do you want to be like me?” Ammachi was yelling
It was the first time Ammachi yelled at me. I just couldn’t bear it. How can Ammachi yell at me? What have I done wrong?I was so upset. I turned around and walked towards the veranda. Ammachi can walk back home on her own for all I care. Only I know how helpless the whole situation is making me feel. What am I to do? My grandmother is all alone in a big house in the middle of now where. Who is going to take care of her? I am the only one who she has and I can only take care of her, if the man I am going to marry is willing to settle down in Chengannur house. Why is life so complicated?
In the midst of all the anger I suddenly felt sorry for Ammachi. I turned to look at her. She was gently rubbing the tree trunk with her hands. I walked back to where she was standing, held her hands and started to walk back home.
“You know Nina, he is just like you? Both of you are like malappadakkam(fire crackers). Quick to burst with all the noise and light and then there is nothing, as though nothing happend”
I didn’t respond. He isn’t my family and I felt absolutely no sense of closeness to him.
We walked silently. One part of me wanted to know more about him, the other part of me just hated him. I was tired and I had a splitting headache.
Once we reached the veranda, I thought I would go and lay down for a little while.
“Ammachi I am going to lay down for a little while.
“Don’t you want to know the rest of the story Nina?”
“I don’t know Ammachi. Do you want to talk?” I asked half heartedly, hoping she would say No.
“I was worried about this for so long. Each time you didn’t come home, I was afraid that your mother told you this story and you will start to hate me. Before you start hating me Nina I want you to know my side of the story”
I looked at Ammachi, What has my mother got to do with all this?

“After I saw him for the first time, there was a feeling in my heart that I don’t know how to explain. I felt a longing in my heart that could only be settled by seeing those beautiful eyes again. I thought I was going crazy, till that day Nina, I never even looked at a man like that. I knew I shouldn’t even think about him. Here I am, a widow, mother of two grown up kids! Each time I went to the market, I would promise myself, today I am going to end nonsense and I will buy the grocery from the old shop. But then I would think, today is the last time I am going to his shop and I will stop going to his shop from the next time onwards”
I looked at my grandmother. I was so afraid where this story is leading to.

“I remember that day very clearly. It was the first day of festival at the Bhagavathy temple and I went to watch the Kathakali. I saw him standing near the stage and speaking to the chendakkaran(drummer). When he saw me he smiled. I could see him looking at me all through the performance. When the performance was over, I looked for him every where. He was no where to be found. I started to walk back home with an aching heart. I thought may be he went home to his wife and that one should only wish for what one rightfully deserve.”
” There was hardly any one on the road and just as I reached the bund I heard a familiar voice that asked
“Shall I walk you back home? Woman shouldn’t be walking alone at this time of the day”
“He was waiting for me Nina! Do you know how that feels? To have someone wait for you?”
No one ever waited for me, so I had no idea how that feels.
“I asked him if he would like to stay for breakfast and he said yes. So I made puttu and green gram curry for him. You know what he did? He stole the coconut from my puttu” Ammachi was smiling like a little child.
“We spoke about Kathakali, about the paddy and everything under the sun. For the first time in my life I had some one to talk to. Like a friend. You know till then I never had a friend all of a sudden I had so much to tell him”
I just nodded my head
“Before he left, he told me, he was married and have a wife and kids in his native village”
Oh my goodness. I didn’t want to hear any more.
“You know Nina, when he told me that, although I felt a tinge of jealousy, I didn’t mind him being married. All I wanted was a friend. Somone to just talk to.”
Phew! I was relieved to hear the last sentence.
“He usually came after he closed the shop in the night, mainly to avoid unnecessary rumours. He would eat dinner and then go back
“Then one day when he came he bought me a present”
“What present?” I asked
“A saree”
“Saree?” I couldn’t picture my grandmother in a saree.
“hmm, a saree!, a red colour cotton saree. Till then I never wore a saree in my life. I started wearing chatta and mundu from the time I got married to your grand father. I didn’t even have a saree blouse, so I tried to tie the saree over my chatta. He helped me to tie the saree
Ammachi was looking at me to see my reaction. I didn’t have to ask her what happend next.
“How could you Ammachi? How could you take someone else’s husband?” I was just so mad at my grand mother. I knew I should be more understanding. But I just couldn’t. No woman should take another woman’s husband. That is not right.
“I didn’t take, I just borrowed!”
“What? How can you say you borrowed? You don’t borrow husbands.”
“Why not? You can borrow a pencil, you can borrow a text book, why can’t you borrow a man?”
“Because you can’t. That is why people get married. Once you get married, your husband belongs to only you.”
“Really? Who made that rule Nina? Isn’t the same people who said, I should wear white colour cloths and not marry again when I became a widow? Don’t I ever get another chance to love and be loved just because my husband died?”
“You can. But you should have looked for someone who is not married”
“Where Nina? Where do I look?” Ammachi was weeping