When I walked in to the class the day after the results were announced, I could sense a feeling of respect, awe, admiration etc on the faces of my classmates. After all, I was Kottayam from Nina, the only student in the class with just 2 years of English education and I was among the 85 students that passed the first MBBS exam. Not only that, I scored the third highest marks for Physiology.
I knew everyone must be thinking ‘how did she do it?’
I never felt this happy. I was delirious.
Second lecture that day was Physiology and I waited impatiently for the H.O.D’s arrival. He had told the class before the exam that the top scorers will be given special assignments for the upcoming conference. I was excited, because to be part of a team that presents paper in conferences is a dream very few medical students can achieve. I watched the peon entering the class with the Roll call ledger. He stood in the middle as though he was going to teach.
“No class today. Boss had to go to Bangalore University”
Before he could finish the rest of the sentence( ie students are required to go to the library or sit in the class and study etc), I grabbed my books and ran down the steps. No boss means I am free until the dissection class in the afternoon. I could certainly catch a few winks of sleep. I opened the door and bumped straight in to Dr. Tripadi.
“Where are you going young lady?” He asked
“To the wash room sir”
How was I going to tell him, I was planning to go to my room and sleep?
“With your books?”
“Sorry sir, In my hurry, I accidentally took my books. I will be back in a minute Sir”
Damn the stupid books.
I walked towards the washroom, knowing very well that Dr. Tripadi is watching me. I closed the door, checked my face, checked my hair, counted to 100 and walked out.
When I returned to my class, Dr. Tripadi was standing near the podium. That is when I noticed the bunch of answer sheets on the desk. His peon must have brought it, when I was busy checking my hair in the washroom.
I stood near the door in a pose that clearly showed my current situation. Madurichittu thuppanum mela, kayichittu erakkanum mela. I was stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.
“Why are you standing there young lady. Come on. Find a place to sit” encouraged Dr. Tripadi.
With a heavy heart, I walked to the back of the gallery. Perhaps Dr. Tripadi’s eye sight wouldn’t be that good and he won’t be able to see me if I sit right at the back. Besides I felt, Dr. Tripadi has been nice to me. So I was sure, he didn’t read my answer.
“Dear students, compared to all the previous years, your batch has been the best. All of you wrote the test very well. In fact, Ms. Thomas wrote the best Answer”
I watched in absolute horror when all my classmates turned to look at me. Some of them were clearly jealous.
“Ms. Thomas, why don’t you come down here and read your answer for the whole class to hear. I am sure everyone should benefit from your vast knowledge”
Oh No this can’t be happening.
“No Sir, Thank you sir” I shook my head
“Nina, Go and read, don’t make the professor call you twice. That is not nice” Spoke Shivakumar who was sitting by my side.
I felt like boxing Shivakumar’s face. What does he know?
“Come here young lady” Dr. Tripadi called again
I walked down the steps slowly wondering why only Sita was blessed and the earth could only swallow her?
“Here, read your answer for the whole class to hear”
“No Sir, please sir”
“I said Read”
I looked at the faces of all my classmates. They were eager to hear my answer. Some of them even had their notebooks opened in front of them, ready to jot down important notes. I looked at the paper in my hand and I started to read, as quietly as possible
“Sir we can’t hear” shouted Shivakumar. I stared at him, hoping that my stares would spew fire and burn him to death.
“Read louder. They can’t hear you” Dr. Tripadi looked pretty serious.
“Iceberg Phenomenon. How the mighty Titanic Sunk” I looked up. Everyone looked stunned. I was sure, they were trying to figure out the link between preventive and social medicine and Titanic.
“Continue” Dr Tripadi spoke again.
By the time I finished reading the 7 pages of my answer, there wasn’t a single student in the class that wasn’t laughing. Most of them were clapping.
“Students, you must give a standing ovation to this bright young lady. Without her, you would have never known the history of Titanic”
I watched all my classmates standing up and clapping their hands. I looked at Dr. Tripadi.
“If you do this again, I will ask you to bring your father. Do you understand that young lady?”
My transformation from Ms. Kottayam to Ms. Titanic was very quick.
Onam was in the end of August. I knew Sally will be home alone. Besides I wanted Amma to see my marks card. So I asked the Princy for special permission to take 3 days of leave. Princy too was shocked to see my ffirst MBBS results and he allowed me to go home.
I left on Thursday evening. Train was crowded with all the people going back home from Bangalore to Kerala to celebrate Onam. The excitement was in the air. I was happy, to be able to celebrate another onam in Kerala.
I decided to walk back home from the railway station, because I wanted to see all the athapoo decorations in front of the houses. I knew there won’t be any athapoo in front of our house, but I wasn’t really disappointed. It didn’t matter anymore. I suddenly felt too old to make athapoo. I couldn’t believe the changes that were happening to me. There was a time, the same me made athapoo with banana blossom because I couldn’t celebrate onam without athapoo.
When I reached the By lane, I could see that, Sujith’s house looked different. What did they do to their house? Did they renovate the house?
By the time I reached my home, I understood what has changed. They have painted the entire house. Even the gate had a new coat of painting.
Normally Christians in Kerala paint their houses before Christmas. Why did Akashavani paint her house before Onam? I didn’t understand. I couldn’t be bothered.
There was no one home so I walked to Akashavani’s house. I knocked at the gate. I saw a young woman opening the door and looking out
“yes?” She was staring at me
“Hi, I stay in that house. My mother usually leaves the house key with aa..” I bit my tongue. I was just about to say Akashavani. “With aunty here”
“Oh, ok. Just a minute” She went back inside and came back with the key. I looked at her. She must have been only 19 or 20 years old. Who is this lady? I wondered. Must be Akashavani’s cousin, must have come to celebrate Onam.
I took the keys from her hand, mumbled a Thank you and went to my house.
Amma came back around 4.3o.
“Hi Amma” I was so happy to see her
“Did you pass your exam?”
She looked at me. I knew she didn’t believe me. So I showed her my marks card. Amma looked at the top of the Marks card. “What is MR/MCI?”
“huh?” I looked at her stunned
“I asked what is this?” She pointed to the word under First M.B.B.S degree examination-part-1-July 1989. It was written MR/MCI(If you look at yesterday’s photo, you can see it. Does any of you know what it means? MCI in all likelihood is Medical colleges of India.. MR?)
“What is it Nina? What does it mean?”
“How do I know. That must be some sort of Bangalore University code”
“How come you don’t know. This is your marks card”
I was just so mad. Why is she harassing me for some unknown words in my mark list when she can see clearly the word ‘pass’ written in red ink by the side of the mark sheet.” Because my father doesn’t work for the University” I snapped
I watched Amma taking my marks card and walking towards the phone.
‘She needs further confirmation from Mr. know it all’
I didn’t even bother to listen to the conversation. I went back to my room cursing the stupid Bangalore University and their stupid marks card.
A little while later I heard footsteps coming towards my room and I looked up
“Acha said, if you say you passed, then it must be true” Amma spoke
“Oh really. How kind of him” I mocked.
“Did you know Sujith got married last week? They found a beautiful girl for him” She replied.
athapoo.. This is Dumela’s Athapoo she made last year..