Lakota Instructions for Living

Passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman

Friend do it this way-that is,
Whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with both your heart and mind

And if you do it that way,
the Power of the Universe
will come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in unity.

When one sits in the hoop of people,
one must be responsible because
All of creation is related.
And the hurt of one is the hurt of all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do effects everything in the Universe.

If you do it that way-that is
if you truly join your heart and mind
as One – Whatever you ask for
that’s the way it is Going To Be

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I wouldn’t be able to write my blog on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the next couple of weeks.
See you all on Monday.

Mad woman

I didn’t want to fight with Amma, so I went to my room. I had brought plenty of novels with me from Bangalore. I decided to lay down on my bed and read.
“Why are you laying down here and reading your book? Can’t you go to the living room and read? Why do you want to waste electricity like this?” I looked up to see Amma standing near my room door. Without even asking me, she switched off the light. I got so mad. But I didn’t say anything. This is Amma’s house and she is paying the electricity bill. I have no right to complain. I got up to go to the living room.
Amma was busy in the kitchen. I thought of going and helping her, but I was in no mood to listen to complaints. so I continued to read the book.

“Who took the coconut that I kept in the fridge?” I heard Amma yelling from the kitchen
“I did. I threw it away”
“You threw it away? Do you know how much one coconut costs now? What were you thinking? You think money grows on trees?”
I thought of telling Amma the same dialogue that I told my grandmother sometime ago, that money certainly doesn’t grow on trees, but coconut does! But my mother doesn’t like jokes.
Amma, the coconut was already red in colour and you know it is poisonous”
“Yeah right, Poisonous! then how come none of you died till now? I have been cooking using the red colour coconut all these while”
What answer do you tell a woman who asks, why her children aren’t dead yet? I just shook my head.
I watched Amma inspecting the fridge, she turned around and looked at the steel container on the plate rack.
“You threw away the Dosai batter? Do you think Dosai batter comes from heaven like manna ? Has it ever occurred to you, how hard it is to walk to the mill, carrying the soaked rice and dal to get it ground? Sometimes I have to stand almost 30 minutes in the queue. Oh Nina, why don’t you just stay in your hostel? Why do you come home and harass me like this? Next time when you have holidays, Don’t come back home. You are just a pest”
I hate it when my mother talks like that, so I retorted
“Too bad Amma. This is a democratic country I will come home, whenever I want. And you know something, you can’t stop me!”
I didn’t expect Amma to get that mad to come and hit me. So I continued to read the novel, I was surprised to see her running towards me with her hand raised, about to slap me. I ducked my head first, then got up and faced my mother and told her
“No, Amma. You are not going to hit me. I am 18 years old, I am matured enough to vote in this country according to Rajiv Gandhi. Stop trying to win an argument, by using physical force, like your husband. You know something Amma, There is no difference between you and your husband.”
“What did you say? That I am like your father? Then I should have just abandoned all of you like he did! Why didn’t I ever do that?”
“May be he wouldn’t have abandoned us, if you weren’t in the picture. My father never had problems with us Did he? His only problem was you, not us!”
“I knew you will always support your father. You just can’t see how much I am struggling, Can you? You are just dumb like him”
Hmm very true. That is why I am doing medicine and you are still working for the telephones as an ordinary office worker, Right?” I just couldn’t control the spite I felt for my mother
“Doing medicine? What medicine? You think you will pass? Even Acha’s daughter failed the first year! Her father passed Indian civil service exam, she herself was a rank holder, she couldn’t pass first year MBBS exam. And you think you are going to pass? You can’t even string a single sentence in English. You got motta(Zero) marks for the 5th std English medium entrance exam! Oh Nina, You must only dream, within your limits!
Acha and I knew there is no way you are going to pass the first year, but you won’t listen to anyone would you? So we decided to let you struggle for a year and then come home saying mundiringa pulikkum(Aesop’s fable about the fox and the sour grapes). Don’t worry, I have already spoken to the BCM college Principal for your B.Sc Admission next year. You are lucky. Fortunately, She knows Acha, other wise who will give admisssion for an MBBS drop out??”
“Go to hell Amma” I threw the book I was reading at her and walked to my room
Mundiringa sharikkum pulikkum( the grapes indeed taste sour)” Amma mocked.
I lay down on my bed. Four more years! Just four more years, then I can escape this mad house. I promised my self, the day I finish medicine, I will celebrate my freedom. I will soar like a bird, free from the cage.
I felt so alone. Would I get someone to just hold my hand, while I struggle each day just to survive? Would beautiful eyes understand what I have to endure in my own home? Would anyone understand?
The world is full of people who tells you, how you should treat your parents. Even the great Sanskrit scholars have written countless articles about the respect hierarchy. They have even coined a magic Manthra. Matha, pitha guru daivam(mother, father, teacher and god)I am supposed to pay respect first to my mother, who gave birth to me then to my father, without him I wouldn’t have been born, then to my teachers for the gift of knowledge and lastly to God.
How do I give respect to a mother, who wanted me to fail each step of the way? How do I give respect to a father, who uses me as a pawn in his fight against his wife? How do I give respect to my teachers who pass their judgements on me and lastly how do I give respect to God, when he makes me go through all these?

Then it occurred to me, there are only three people that mattered. I,me and myself. I figured, I will just have to survive with myself to provide a better future for me. I just have to. I don’t have anyone else. That was the truth, that I am all alone in this world!

I heard the phone ringing and I knew it must be the idiot( aka as my uncle) from Bangalore.I over heard Amma complaining about me throwing away the dosai batter and the coconut. Then I heard Amma saying,”No I didn’t ask her. You know she won’t pass. she is just wasting her time.”
I so very badly wanted to get up and strangle Amma’s neck and ask her Why can’t you have an iota of faith in me? Is that too much to ask?
I so very badly wanted to pass the exam, not so much because I will be able to write the entrance exam for master’s degree, but for the satisfaction of shoving my marks card on my stupid mother’s face. Then I remembered Dr. Rajesh’s face during my viva and I knew I will not get the satisfaction this year!

In the morning I walked with Sally to the bus stand. I remembered those days when I used to carry Liza’s and Sally’s school bag and drop them to their school. I remembered the times, my sisters stood on the back seat of the bus and waved at me.
I looked at Sally. She is almost 9 years old. She no longer wanted me to carry her school bag. She didn’t want to hold my hand. How fast the time flew!
“Nina, why do you fight with Amma, each time when you come back from the medical college?” Sally asked
“I don’t know. I guess it is because, I am never good enough for Amma. I just want her to say once in her life, that I am good at something”
“But you are good”
“I know. But not good enough for Amma. Maria speaks good English, knows how to get dressed well, Liza is good in sports, taller than me, and you, you are very pretty, smart, and sweet and me.. I am not good in anything. I studied in Malayalam medium, I don’t like to wear make up, I wear the same clothes all the time, I am not good in studies and most importantly, I am deaf, dumb and blind”
“No you are not. I think you are the smartest of us all”
“Then why doesn’t Amma say that? Didn’t you hear her saying that, I am going to fail my first year. Do you know that my room mate Shylaja’s mother observed ‘fast’, so she would pass the exam. Aparna’s mother send tons of food and Anitha’s mother called her every night. My mother, she was in Bangalore and didn’t even visit me. Do you know how that feels Sally? Do you know how much it hurts when I know Amma is waiting for me to fail?”
She didn’t say anything.
Perhaps she would never know how much and how desperately I want my mother to say that I am good at something. May be Amma knew that, may be she gets some kind of satisfaction making me beg for her approval.

As soon as we reached the bus stop I watched Sally running towards her friends who were already waiting in a line. They were talking and laughing. I just stood there like a tiang telefone(telephone Post) and watched the school bus arriving and my sister entering the bus. I thought at least my sister would say a good bye to me. I watched the conductor closing the door and the bus leaving. I desperately looked at all the window seats to see where my sister is sitting. All the children looked alike in the school uniform. I knew my sister would be upset, if I didn’t wave my hand and said goodbye. So I waved my hand and in my heart I knew she would be standing in the last seat of the bus and waving, like she did all the times.
I looked at the back window of the bus, all the while waving my hand. It was difficult to accept as an older sister that, you no longer are as important as friends in your baby sisters life. So like a mad woman, I kept waving at the bus that was disappearing fast from my eye sight. Mad woman

Never mattered.

There were 2 beds in my sisters room. Sally’s bed was not made, her blanket was on the floor and the pillow was by the side of the bed. Liza’s bed had a bedspread on it. Cream colour bedspread with rose flower motifs. Amma stitched that bedspread when she was expecting Maria. It is a family heirloom, not meant for daily use, it is only used for display, when we have visitors.
May be I am imagining. May be Liza might have chuchumully(peed) on the bed and Amma didn’t have a spare bed sheet and used the bedspread temporarily. I walked to Amma’s bedroom and checked the Godrej cupboard. Liza’s white shirt, blue T shirt and her pink dress was still in the cupboard. I was so relieved to find Liza’s dresses in the cupboard.
I am stupid, plain stupid.I shouldn’t jump in to conclusions like that, I thought. My sister is very much home. She hasn’t gone anywhere. I was just about to close the cupboard door when I noticed Amma’s sarees.
Wow, Amma was busy shopping. There were three new silk sarees in her cupboard. I took the sarees out , one was a black and yellow pochampally print, the other was a typical Mysore silk saree with blue flower print and the third one was a plain red silk saree with golden Zari. I liked the red saree with the zari border. I planned to take it with me when I go back to the hostel.
When I put the sarees back in the cupboard, my hand touched something hard. What is Amma hiding behind the sarees? I removed all the sarees quickly to check. Right at the back of the cupboard, there was a 2 feet long odd shaped timber piece! Why is my mother keeping firewood in the cupboard? She is harvesting termites?
I heard someone opening the main door. Quickly I tried to put all the sarees back in the cupboard. I hoped it isn’t Amma who just opened the main door. I didn’t want to start my two weeks of well earned break/vacation with a fight.
“Nina, are you home?” I heard Sally shouting
I was just so relieved to learn that it was my sister who came home and not my mother.
“Yes, I am in Amma’s bedroom”
“Hey what are you doing with Amma’s sarees?”Sally was standing near the door and looking at me
“Looking at Amma’s sarees! I was looking to see which are the sarees I should take with me when I go back to Bangalore!.”
“Oh! how is life in the medical college?”
“Boring! I missed you!”
As I put the sarees back, I touched the timber piece again. “Sally, why is Amma keeping firewood in the cupboard?”
“Firewood? What firewood?”
“Seriously, see this one, why is she keeping it inside the cupboard?” I moved the sarees and showed the evidence to my baby sister.
“Oh my goodness, Nina that isn’t a firewood. That is Sandal wood”
“What?” I took the timber piece out and sniffed it.”It doesn’t smell like sandal wood. It doesn’t smell like anything. Actually it doesn’t have any smell”
Kazuthey (my darling)You need to scrape the surface to get the smell! Do you know how much that piece of wood costs?” Sally asked
“No” I shook my head
“About 1500 Rs!”
“What?1500 Rs? Our conjused(stingy) mother spend 1500 Rs to buy this piece of wood?”
“Where got? You think Amma will spend money. That is a gift from Veerappan” “Veerappan? Which Veerappan?” I don’t have any family members with that name. I tried to think of the names of all Amma’s colleagues.
“The world famous sandal wood smuggler Veerappan. The man, both Karanataka and Tamil Nadu govt has been trying to capture all these years!”
I looked at my baby sister. Why is she pulling my leg? Why would Veerappan give a gift to my mother? I was sure my sister is bluffing
“Get lost Sally. You are just teasing me. Tell me, from where did Amma get this?”
“I am serious Nina, It is from Veerappan.”
“Yeah right. He only gave sandal wood? He should be giving ivory too! Next time when you see him ask for ivory. Ok?”
“Nina I am serious. Every time Veerappan needs a favour from the powerful people in Karnataka, he sends gifts of sandal wood. Acha got this last month when we were in Bangalore and he gave it to Amma”
“You were in Bangalore? When? Why didn’t you visit me?”
“We went to drop Liza to her school”
“What? Which School?”
“Valley View school in Chikmagalur. You didn’t know?”
“How will I know if nobody tells me?” I was so mad. Nobody even bothered to tell me that my sister is studying in Chikmagalur. Then I remembered, oh my goodness, that idiot(aka my uncle) and his family lives in Chikmagalur. My mother send my sister to study in a place close to where that idiot stays? Is she selling my sister too?
“Is Liza’s school close to ‘his’ house?” I asked Sally
“Who? Acha’s?”
I nodded my head.
If it is, I am going to Chickmagalur today and bring my sister home. I will raise her myself. I will not let my mother harm my sister.
“No they moved to Bangalore 2 years ago. His daughter is doing medicine in Bangalore, so they decided to move to Bangalore, so she doesn’t have to stay in the hostel”
I was just so relieved to hear that.
“He has a daughter doing medicine? Which college?”
“You didn’t know?” Sally looked stunned
It seems, there were lots of things I didn’t know.
“Which college Sally?”
“You mean Kempegowda?”
Sally nodded her head.
“Sally why did Amma send Liza to study in Chikmagalur?”
“Don’t know. She says Liza is becoming too difficult to handle, so Amma and Acha decided it is better that Liza stays in a hostel”
“But she is the 9th Std, next year she has to write the public exam. How is she going to write the language paper in Kannada? Do you know how hard it is to study Kannada?”
“I know”
“What do you know” I screamed at her
“Why are you screaming at me Nina? What can I do? Will anyone listen to me?”
“I am sorry Sally. I didn’t want to scream at you. It is just that, I am so mad at Amma. First she destroyed Chechy’s life, then she destroyed mine, now she is destroying Liza’s. Why is she doing this?”
“I don’t know Nina”
“Did she speak to Chechy?”
“Yeah, she came with us to Chikmagalur”
“Oh! so she also agreed. Stupid woman”
“Chechy cut her hair”
“Now she has fringes, pencil thin eye brows and red rouge on her cheeks and silver eye shadows. All in all she looks like the mentally deranged version of a prostitute”
I looked at my sister. Where did she know all these words. Prostitute? Aren’t children supposed to be innocent? Is she learning all these words at her school?
“Sally you shouldn’t be using such words”
“Why? Because truth hurts?”
I wasn’t sure, if it is the truth that my family is all screwed up or that I am just not able to fix anything hurt the most. I put the sandal wood and the sarees back in the cupboard. I felt disgusted when I realized that I was holding the wretched sarees and even thought of borrowing them. I realized those sarees weren’t bought from Seemati, Kottayam using Amma’s money, those sarees were paid by tears of someone. I just hoped it isn’t Liza’s. I would never forgive my mother if she as much as tried to hurt my little sisters.
“Oh my goodness, I forgot. I was supposed to buy palm oil from the ration shop after school. I will go quickly and buy it before Amma comes back”
“Wait Sally, eat something, you just came back from school. You will be hungry”
“Have you seen the queue at the ration shop?”
I shook my head. I never had the misfortune to stand in a ration shop queue.
“I am already late. I am sure by now the queue is a mile long. I will come home soon”
I watched Liza opening her school bag and taking the plastic bottle out. My sister takes a plastic bottle to buy oil all the way to her school? What is wrong with my mother? Why do we need to buy palm oil from the ration shop? We aren’t that poor. Why is my mother forever trying to save money by making us, her children struggle like this?
“Sally, At least drink some milk before you go”
“There is no milk Nina”
“Why?” I was getting frustrated
“Because, now that Liza is not home, Amma only buys half a liter of milk and she makes coffee for herself and Nutramul for me with that. So there is no milk left”
I watched my sister rushing out. I thought of going with her. But public places in Kerala are best avoided if you in your teens and a female, because if you don’t, you are just making yourself as easy target for the macho malayalee men, who is waiting for a chance to exhibit their machismo. I didn’t want to go through hours of whistling and cat calls.
I went to the kitchen. There was no food on the kitchen counter. I opened the fridge. There was a huge steel container in the lower rack. I didn’t have to open it to find what is inside. I could smell the fermented dosai batter the moment I opened the fridge. I took it out and threw the batter down the sink. There was three snall saucers with remnants of mango and lime pickle. My sister must have taken extra pickle and didn’t eat it and Amma didn’t want to waste it, so she saved it and kept in the fridge. Small tiny pieces of pickle! I threw that away. There was rice, that looked slimy, two halves of a coconut, one was partially scrapped and the other was unused, but both were red in colour( a sign that, it is no longer edible). I threw the rice and the coconut in to the rubbish bin. I opened the freezer. I couldn’t really identify anything in that freezer. It was all covered with a thick layer of frost. There was only one thing to do. I switched off the fridge to let it defrost.
I was wiping the metal racks inside the fridge when I heard someone opening the door. Sally must have come home, I thought.
I heard footsteps and turned to look
“What are you doing?”Amma asked
“Cleaning the fridge Amma”
I was just so happy to see Amma. I haven’t seen her for more than 6 months. That is half a year. I wanted to hug her, so I got up, quickly washed my hands and wiped it dry on my dress and turned to look at Amma. She wasn’t there. She had already gone to her room.
My mother didn’t even bother to ask me, how have I been? How was my exams? Nothing at all. I mean nothing to my mother. Absolutely nothing.

missing pieces

“That bastard, he asked me the surface marking of subclavian artery! Can you believe it? Instead of all the arteries in the upper limb, he asked me to draw subclavian artetry. I didn’t know how to draw that. I think I will fail my practicals.”Shylaja started to cry
Shylaja was in the first group that had anatomy practicals. So everyone was eager to find out more details about the external examiners.
The external examiners hold the key to our success. Even if you pass the theory, if you failed in the practicals, you automatically failed the subject and have to rewrite both theory and practicals 6 months later.
To ensure that the practicals are conducted in the most fairest way, free from favouritism and bias , Bangalore University employs lectures from other colleges(often out of state) for practicals. Unfortunately, the external examiners know that they hold the ultimate power to make or break a medical students career. So instead of asking common questions, they harass students by asking totally irrelevant questions like what acid is in the eye, all in the pretext of checking how thorough the student is on the subject!
We already knew Dr. Radha is one of the examiners. She is known to fail any female student who doesn’t wear a saree.
So who is this new guy who wanted the surface marking of a tiny artery?
“Who is he?” I asked
“I don’t know. I think he is new, He was screaming at Shivakumar, because he didn’t draw the radial artery properly through the anatomical snuff box!
Oh No, Not Shivakumar. He is the top student in my class. He is the only student in my class who studies from Grey’s anatomy.(Most students only uses Grey’s anatomy for reference).
There is a rumour that, even when he sleeps he dreams of muscles and arteries. If he got yelled, what is going to be my fate?
Why did I choose to do medicine, of all the things on earth? I wondered if it is too late to go back to BCM college and do my degree in homescience. Then it occurred to me, there was a time, I desperately wanted to get out of BCM college. Now I wanted to go back there and study!! Ironies of life.
“What am I going to do?” Shylaja was still crying
“Nah, don’t worry. You will pass.” I spoke.

I studied the surface marking of every tiny artery. I revised and revised.. The thought that my entire life is in the hands of three strangers was the scariest part. On the day of my anatomy practicals, I wore my saree and tied my hair in a ponytail. So at least I wouldn’t fail the practicals because of my appearance. I heard someone knocking my door and shouting.
“Nina can you help me?
I opened the door quickly to find Namratha Kaul standing outside my room holding a saree.
“Nina, can you help me? I don’t know how to tie a saree
“Come inside”
I felt sorry for Namratha. She is a Kashmiri and always wore salwars and now she is forced to wear a saree, just because one examiner thinks that all Indian women must wear saree!
I helped her to tie the saree and we walked together to the anatomy dissection hall. I knew in my heart that I am going to fail. I hated Anatomy. I couldn’t remember anything that I studied.
All I wanted was the ordeal to be over and I can go home.

When my number was called, i walked inside the hall. Dr. Radha was sitting in the first table. As I walked towards the table, she looked at me and nodded her head. A nod that said, hmm smart girl, all girls should be like you, wear a saree and the hair tied well.
I was very nervous. I couldn’t breath. I stood next to the table. The decorum of the practicals is that, you can’t sit, unless you have been told to. Dr. Radha nodded her head again and spoke
“Sit down”
I was just so glad to sit down. I was afraid that if I had to stand another minute, I might faint and fall down. I looked at her, waiting for her to start her questions.
“How many more students are outside?” She asked
For a second I was confused. What kind of a anatomy question is that? How many what? I looked at her. May be she saw the confused look on my face
“How many more students waiting outside for the practicals?”
“Oh. 3 more madam”
Ok. Let us do this quick. Tell me the source of medial collateral artery”
I knew the answer” Deep brachial artery.”
“Good, very good” She spoke. She asked me few more questions and I knew the answers.
“You can go to the next cubicle for surface marking”
I was stunned. I was expecting her to eat my head. Her session of the practicals was over in less than 10 minutes.

I walked in to the next cubicle. There was a cadaver on the table. I looked around to see where the ‘devil’ was standing. He wasn’t standing. He was sitting at the desk in the far end of the cubicle. I wasn’t sure if I should stand next to the cadaver or walk to the place where he is sitting? Why is life so complicated?
While I contemplated my next move, I watched him getting up and walking towards me.
“Hi” He spoke
Hi? He said Hi. Does he know me? I looked at him, trying to see where and when have I seen him before. He must be about 35 years old. He wore a light blue stripped shirt and he was looking at me and smiling and I had no choice but to smile.
“What is your name?” He asked
“You have a beautiful smile”
“Thank you sir”
“Where do you stay?”
“In the hostel Sir”
“No, I mean, where is your home?”
“In Kerala sir”
“Oh. Malayalee ah?”
I nodded my head
“Do you know the surface marking of radial artery?”
“Yes sir” I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or if this is indeed my lucky day. I knew the surface marking of radial artery and I drew it confidently.
He was nodding his head and I was proud. At least my fate was better than Shailaja’s and Shivakumar’s.
“I would like to see you again”
“Excuse me sir” I looked at him. Is this guy going to fail me, so he can see me 6 months later.
“Do you have a boy friend?”
“No” I shook my head, all the while trying to figure out what this man is talking about.
“I will be coming to Bangalore for a conference next month. I would like to see you then”
I looked at the man who was standing in front of me. No doubt he is handsome. But he is twice my age!. What am I going to do? Do I tell him that I don’t want to see him and let him have the satisfaction of making me rewrite the paper again or agree to see him?
“Sure sir” I nodded my head. I knew I will have to find some way to escape. I will cross that bridge then!.
“I will call you when I am in town”
“Sure sir”
Ok, you can go to the next table”
I learned my first lesson that day. Never ever tell your real name to the external examiner.

Dr. Rajesh was in the third cubicle with the external examiner. I was to identify all the bones. I was way too upset after the surface marking practicals. May be it was the thought that, this was the last practicals of the day, or may be because I did the first 2 well, I just couldn’t concentrate. I was given a metacarpal bone and was asked to identify. I just couldn’t and I saw the mean look on Dr. Rajesh’s face. He is going to fail me. I could see it in his eyes.
“You can leave” Spoke Dr. Rajesh and I knew I would have to go through the whole thing once again in 6 months time. I had enough. I just couldn’t care any more.

I packed my bag and took an auto to go to the railway station. When the train reached Kottayam station, I hoped Amma would come to the station to pick me up. I looked around for her in the platform. She didn’t come. I don;t know why I always think that my mother would do anything for me?
I took an auto to my home. I paid the auto driver and got out. The gate was locked and there was nobody home. I stood outside the door trying to see, what I should do next? Do I wait here for Amma to come back or go to my sister’s school and fetch them? I was tired. I didn’t want to lug my bag and go to my sister’s school. I heard someone opening Akashavani’s gate and I turned to look.
Kapalanga (Sujith) was standing there
Hai Sujith. Thank you very much for sending the telegram”
“You are welcome Nina”
“How are you?” I asked him
“I have Good News. I am getting a visa to go to Gulf”
“Really?” For a moment, I felt a tinge of sadness. Sujith, his mother, aunty Reena and her mother, they are all part of what I call my home. Although I am the first one to leave all of them by going to Bangalore to study, I knew each time I came home I could see all of them. I couldn’t imagine not seeing Sujith when I am home.
“I will miss you” I spoke sadly
“My mother is asking me to get married”
“You? Getting married? You don’t even have a proper meesha(moustache)”
“Who said I don’t have a proper meesha(moustache)? What is this?” He pointed to the thin line of moustache on his upper lips.
“One second. Do you have my house key? Liza has a magnifying glass. I will go get it and check your meesha
Sujith looked a bit upset. I thought, Men and their Moustache!
Aiyyah. I was just teasing you. You have a very nice meesha (moustache).”
“Seriously!” I nodded my head
Sujith Who is that?” I heard someone calling out from their kitchen
Aiyyoo. Amma Sujith Whispered
Amma, it is Nina, she came to get their house key” Sujith walked back to his house quickly.
Akashavani came out of the house, wiping her hand on the end of her saree pallu.
“Hello Aunty
“Hello” she didn’t sound too happy.
Sujith came out with the key
“Give me the key. I will give it to Nina” Akashavani spoke
I watched Sujith handing the keys to his mother like a little kitten. I thought of telling him, no point having a meesha(moustache). As long as you let your mother bully you like this, there is no point you being a male.
I took the keys from Akashavani’s hand and mumbled a small thanks. Why does she even think that I would snatch her precious son away? What harm is there in Sujith giving me the key? That our hands touch? I couldn’t understand her logic.
I opened the gate and walked inside my home. Nothing has changed. AS usual Amma’s garden was full of flowers. She had a few pots of orchids too this time. I opened the door and entered my home. I walked to my room. The house was spic and span. Everything in the right place. But I knew something was missing. I couldn’t figure out what was missing. I walked to my sisters room and I knew in an instant what has happened.

Update: I write my blog after I send my kids to school(9Am)and I have to finish the blog before 12 noon, so I can fetch the youngest from her Pre-school.
In between writing the blog, I have to cook lunch as well!
Because I have so little time to do everything, I never get a chance to read what I typed and correct the spelling and grammar mistakes.
So my dear readers, not enough that my English sucks, now you have to bear with horribly horrible spelling and equally horrible grammar!
Please forgive me.

Irrelevant of the outcome

First year MBBS internal exams were staring in June. I was beginning to get worried. I haven’t studied anything. I had to learn Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry and to make matters worst, I realized I don’t even have proper lecture notes. I was reading Sidney Sheldon novels in my room, when my batchmates were busy attending lectures and taking notes. I was so stupid! There was no other way to describe my stupidity.

I was in my room trying to memorise all the muscles in the upper arm when Aparna ran in to the room
“Oh God, what am I going to do?” “Oh God where did I keep all the Notes?” Aparna was acting like a mad woman
“What is going on?” I asked her
“Didn’t you hear? we have PSM internal exam(preventive and Social medicine) on monday?”
“PSM internal exam? But we only have to write that paper in Final year right?”
“Yeah, but Dr. Tripadi wants us to write the internal exam. He says, he is going to use the mark we get this year for our final year”
Dr. Tripadi is a weird man. He knows nobody likes PSM and he isn’t as important as the surgeons and medicine professors. So he acts big by harassing all the first year students. I never attended any of his lectures and I haven’t bought a text book yet.
“Are you going to study PSM?” I asked Aparna
“Ofcourse I don’t want to fail PSm internal exam. Oh God, now I will have less time to revise anatomy and Physio”
“You finished studying Biochemistry already?
Aparna nodded her head. I felt a tinge of jealousy, because I haven’t touched Biochemistry yet. Why oh Why am I so stupid?
What am I going to do? Do I concentrate on the three papers I have to write and pass this year or Do I worry about a paper that I will be writing 3 years from now? I chose the former.
I watched all my batchmates reading PSM on sunday, while I was busy reading Biochemistry. On monday morning, I walked to the exam hall confidentally to write an exam on a subject that I have never read. Everyone was busy doing last minute revision.
Dr. Tripadi walked in to the hall with the question paper. I waited anxiously for him to distribute the question paper. I was planning to pass an empty answer sheet and walk off the exam hall quickly, so I can go back and revise Anatomy.
“Nobody leaves the exam hall till the last bell rings” Announced Dr. Tripadi.
I thought of strangling Dr. Tripadi. Not enough that he is making us write PSM exam, when we should be worrying about Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, he also decided that we should waste two precious hours in the exam hall.
He started to walk around the classroom. I couldn’t just sit there and stare at the question paper infront of me, especiallywhen Dr. Tripadi is walking around the room and checking to see who are the ‘good students’. I had to prtend that I knew all the answers and write the test. I looked at the question paper.
First question was ‘What is Iceberg Phenomenon?”
I had no idea what is Iceberg Phenomenon!. The only Iceberg I knew was the one Titanic went and banged. I had 2 hours to waste and so I decided to write about how the mighty unsinkable Titanic sunk on April 14, 1912 after hitting an iceberg! I wrote on the 4 pages of my answer booklet and still only managed to write half the story. I had to take three additional sheets. Each time I asked for additional sheet sheet Aparna turned to look at me. I smiled at her. I watched Aparna writing more enthusiastically. She desperately wanted to score more marks than me. If only she knew!

Because I didn’t have time to write notes, whatever I needed to remember, I wrote in my text book. In that way, I dont have to go throught too many books just before the exam. I just have to read my text book. Because I hated Anatomy and needed more help with that subject, My Chaurasia text book was filled with my notes.
Externals were starting on monday.
On sunday I revised Biochemistry in the morning, because I knew I will have the whole night to revise Anatomy. Around 7 PM, I went to the mess to have dinner. I thought of taking my Anatomy text book with me to the mess, but then I thought, It is only for 10 minutes! I will eat quickly and come back. I kept the text book on my bed and went to eat. Aparna and Shylaja were sitting in the corridoor and studying
“Are you coming to the mess?” I asked them
“Nah, we will eat later”
I walked to the mess alone, all the while revising the Krebs cycle( biochemistry) in my head. I ate quickly.
When I came back Aparna and Shylaja was still outside the room.
I walked in to my room to get my text book. I know for sure, I left the book on my bed, but it wasn’t there when I went back. I looked under the bed, in my cupboard, every where. My text book was missing. I ran out of the room and asked Aparana
“Did anyone come in to our room?”
“No” Both of them shook their head.
“Did you see my Chaurasia text book?”
“No” They shook their head.
I felt my world collapsing. I wrote all the mnemonics, all the important questions, everything in that text book. There was no way I could have misplaced my text book. I went back and checked my room again, I went to all batch mates rooms asking if they saw my text book. No one saw my text book.
I went to the seniors rooms. The last room on fourth floor was Soumya’s room. She is a very nice super senior. I knocked at her door and she opened the door.
“Are you ok Nina? What happend?”
“Someone took my Chaurasia tex book. I can’t find it anywhere”
“Did you check in your room?”
I nodded my head. I started to cry. I didn’t want to fail the exam. If I failed a test, then I wouldn’t be able to write any entrance exam to do my master’s degree.
“Come on Nina, it isn’t that bad. Stop wasting your time crying. Get a book from Someone and study”
“I don’t know anyone who has a Chaurasia to spare”
“Oh Nina, I gave my book to Anitha. But I am sure many of my batchmates still have Chaurasia. Go and ask Sumi. She might have a Chaurasia”
I looked at Soumya. I have never spoken to Sumi before. How can I go to her and ask, if I can borrow her text book?
“Will you help me?” I asked Soumya
“ok” I watched Soumya going to Sumi’s room and talking to Sumi. She got the book and gave it to me
“Go and study. Good luck”
“Thank you Soumya”

It wasn’t easy to study from someone else’s book. I missed my text book. But I had no choice but to study. Around 12 midnight I was feeling very sleepy. I wanted to sleep for a little while and get up and revise. I was afraid that I might not hear the alarm. Shylaja was already asleep and Aparna was still studying.
“Aparna, What time are you going to bed?
“Around 2pm. I still have to revise some more”
“can you wake me up in one hour time?”
“Sure” She mumbled
“yeah, I will”
I knew I can count on Aparna. I lay down to sleep. I woke up with a jolt and looked at the clock. It was 2.45 Am. Aparna was still studying.
Oh my goodness, Aparna didn’t bother to wake me up. I was so mad at her
“Aparna, you promised me, you will wake me up. Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“Oh Nina, you looked so tired, so I thought I will let you sleep for a little while” She spoke so innocently
BITCH. That is all I could think.

On the last day of the exam, Aparna started to vomit. May be she is just stressed, or she might have got food poisoning. By sunday Aparna couldn’t move. She was vomitting non stop. I had physiology practicals on monday and Aparna had biochemistry practicals. I watched Aparna laying down on her bed and struggling to read her biochemistry lab report. I felt sorry for her.
“Give me the book. I will read for you”
“Don’t you have practicals tomorrow?”
“I do, don’t worry about me.”
I sat next to Aparna, read the whole lab reports for her. In between Shylaja walked in to the room to get her lab report. She never once asked how is Aparna, or if she needed any help.

Monday morning, I helped Aparna to revise biochemistry again and walked with her to the Biochemistry lab. Before I left, I informed the Head of the Department Dr. Sheikh that Aparna is not feeling well.
As I walked to the Physiology lab, I didn’t know how I am going to do Physiology practicals, when my head is full of biochemistry. But I did what I have to do, irrelevant of the outcome.

Aparna had jaundice.


I dread the weekends in the campus. 2 boring days, doing nothing much, other than sleeping till the afternoon and reading novels the rest of the day. The only visitor who is allowed to enter the ladies hostel during the weekend is the cobbler, who usually comes around 8 AM carrying his tools in a canvas bag. He sits near the hostel entrance and by 12 noon he would have atleast 30 pairs of shoes to mend.
I woke up hearing some one knocking the door . Aparna went to open the door and I heard Anitha telling Aparna that the cobbler has arrived and if we have any shoes to mend, better hurry. That is when I noticed, Aparna is all dressed up. She is wearing an expensive silk salwar kameez, parrot green colour with gold zari in the border. She had matching hair clips and earrings. Oh my! where is she going? I wondered.
As soon as Anitha left, Aparna turned to look at me.
“Oh, Thank God you are awake. I was waiting for you to get up”
“Why? For what?”
“Nina, I am going to the Library. If my mother calls, can you tell her that I went to the library and ask her to call back in the evening?”
“Thanks” Within seconds Aparna was out of the room.
I looked at the clock. 9AM. Library opens only at 10 AM during the weekends. And nobody goes to the library wearing an expensive salwar and high heels. .
I got up and walked to the window. From my room I could see back of the canteen, entrance of the men’s hostel building and the basktet ball court in between the canteen and men’s hostel. I could see Aparna walking on the road and I waited to see where she is going. Like I suspected, she was not going to the Library, I saw her turning towards the canteen. She must be meeting someone at the canteen. Oh oh, she is in love!
But who is the guy? Oh my goodness, what if it is my beautiful eyes? I hoped the guy isn’t my beautiful eyes. I didn’t want my room mate to love the guy that I love. She isn’t going to borrow my guy! I need to know. I have to know who is the guy Aparna is seeing!
There is only one way to find it.
I quickly changed my clothes and grabbed some money fom my lab coat pocket and closed my room door.
I bumped in to Anitha, who was walking up and down the corridoor and studying. Her roommate was sitting on the bench in the corridoor.
“Hey, I heard that you and Jomon are an item”
“what? How did you hear that? I mean what are you talking about?”
“Oh yeah. Ms innocence, mindapoocha kalam udakkanda!(don’t try to act all innocent). Everyone saw you and Jomon talking in the canteen”
“So? Just because I talked to Jomon doesn’t mean that, I am in love with him” I was so mad.
“Whatever” Anitha shrugged her shoulder and turned away. I didn’t bother to waste my time trying to convince my classmate that I am not in love with an ape man. Then I heard Anitha talking to her room mate
“My God, what an actress she is! Look at her, She is wearing jeans and t-shirt. She isn’t going to the mess, dressed like that to eat breakfast! why do you have to change your cloths to go to the mess?. I can bet with you she is going to the canteen to meet Jomon. What does Nina think? that we are all stupid?”

How can I change the views of stupid people? All I can do is to ignore people like Anitha.
I walked to the canteen knowing very well that Anitha will be standing near her room window to confirm her suspicion. I couldn’t care less. I didn’t want to lose beautiful eyes.
There were very few students in the canteen. Aparna saw me as soon as I entered the canteen. I looked at the guy who was sitting next to her.
‘Oh my goodness!’
That is all I could think. How could Aparna do this? What is she thinking?
“Hi Nina, what are you doing in the canteen?”
I was lost for words. I didn’t know what to say. I looked around the room. I noticed the packet of potato chips in the shelf behind the cashier.
“Came to buy chips” I replied
“Oh ok”. She looked a bit worried and I didn’t want to make her any more uncomfortable. I bought the chips and walked out quickly.
Aparna is a from an orthodox brahmin family. She will be killed, if her family knows that she is dating a Christian guy. What is she thinking? That she can change the rules that her family has been following the last few centuries?

What about him? John Jacob is Dr.Jacob and Dr. Molly’s only son. His father is a famous oncologist in Vellore and his mother is a pathology professor. What is he thinking? That his parents are going to accept Aparna? Why do people not think before falling in love?

Then I thought about beautiful eyes. He for sure isn’t a Malayalee. What will my father say, when I tell him that I want to marry a Chinese? Appa may not kill me, but he will for sure throw me out of the house. He will say it is all Amma’s fault, that she didn’t raise us well.
Life is very complicated when race and religion are involved. Why don’t we ever look at a person as a human instead of Chinese, Indian etc? Then I realized my own hypocricy. I myself called beautiful eyes a Chinese!
I went back to my room. I had nothing else to do, so I decided to sleep. I woke up hearing Anitha knocking at my door and saying
“Aparna phone call for you”
I remembered my promise. I got up quickly and opened the door
“Thanks Anitha, I will take the call”
“It is for Aparna”
“I know. Aparna asked me to take the call”
“Oh ok”
What is Anitha’s problem? Why does she act so funny..It is for Aparna!

I ran to the phone room and picked up the phone and said Hello
The lady on the phone started to speak in Tamil and I knew it is Aparna’s mother.
“Hello Amma, this is Nina, Aparna’s room mate.”
“Where is Aparna?”
I never liked to lie. How do I tell the mother of my room mate that, her precious daughter is having an affair with a Syrian Christian boy?
“Amma, She is gone to the library”
“Why? Doesn’t she have all the text books? Does she need any more books? Why didn’t she tell us she need more books?”
Once you start laying, you need to lie more to cover up the original lie.
“No Amma, she has all the books, she just went to read Lancet, you know the medical magazines”
“Oh Appadiya!”
“Amma, would you call back in the evening?”
“Evening ah? why evening? how long does it take her to read the magazine?”
Now what am I going to do? What do I tell her?
“Amma, our professor asked us to read all the previous issues of the magazines. So it will take a long time”
“Did you finish reading all the magazines Nina?”
“Not yet Amma. I am just going to the library”
“Oh ok. I won’t disturb you”
“Bye Amma”
“Bye Nina”
I am never going to do this again. I will never lie on behalf of my room mate. If she wants to date a Christian, she might as well tell her mother the truth. I was so angry with Aparna.

I was in my room, when I heard someone knocking my door. I opend the door to see the canteen boy standing outside my door. Anitha must have heard the knocking sound because I heard her opening her room door and from the corner of my eyes, I could see her standing by the door.
“Ma’am, Sir wants to see you”
My heart started to beat fast. Oh my goodness, Beautiful eyes finally decided to see me? I wanted to confirm
“Which Sir?”
“Jomon Sir”
Damn. Why doesn’t that guy leave me alone? I felt so disappointed when I heard that it was the ape man who wanted to see me and not beautiful eyes. I had no intention of going to the canteen and meeting Jomon. It is only going to create further rumours.

I looked at the little boy who is standing infront of me. Ramesh is only 9 years old and is working in the canteen, so he can provide food for his family. Everyone talks about child labour and how children shouldn’t be employed. But in a county like India where welfare fails those who needs it the most, children will always have to work, so their family can eat. Each time I see Ramesh working in the canteen, I wonder what his life would have been, if he had a chance to study. May be it is the knowledge that people like me are simply robbing the childhood of these children, that makes me buy candies for him every time I go to the canteen.
“Ramesh, can you do me a favour?” I asked him
“Yes ma” He nodded his head
“Come closer” I didn’t want the nosey Anitha to hear anything
I whispered
“Can you tell Jomon Sir, that you couldn’t find me?”
He nodded his head. I watched him running off and I turned to look. Anitha was still standing by the door.

Monday, after the diassection was over, I went to the canteen to eat Egg Bhaji. As soon as I entered the canteen I looked around to see if beautiful eyes was around. He wasn’t, but I saw Anitha and the gang speaking to Malayalee seniors. Anitha saw me entering the canteen and I saw her saying something to Jomon. I ignored the Mallu crowd.
I ordered the egg bhaji and found a place to sit.
“Ms. Kottayam” I heard Jomon calling my name
“Yes sir”
He was walking towards me.
“How dare you try to cheat me? Next time when I send a message asking you to meet me in the canteen, I expect you to come. Do you understand that?”
I looked at Anitha. The BITCH was smiling.