“Artaban” I smiled and told beautiful eyes
“Artaban? What Artaban?” I thought he looked pretty cute when he tried to squint his already tiny eyes
“Not What Artaban. It is Who is Artaban” I replied sheepishly
“Your boyfriend?”
“Nah” I almost screamed. How could even think that I have another boyfriend, when he is all I ever really wanted.
“Then?” He was staring at me
“Do you know the story of the three wise men in the bible?”I asked him
“yes” he nodded his head
“Well, Artaban was the fourth wise man. He was the one who always missed seeing Jesus while he searched for Jesus for 33 long years”
“Really? Where did you read it? It was never mentioned in the bible, was it?”
“I read the story many many years ago and every time I hear the story of the three wise men, I think of Artaban”
“Don’t know, may be that for some people the journey of life is pretty easy and for others life is a struggle”
Beautiful eyes was looking at me and I asked him
“Do you want to know the story of Artaban?”
“Artaban, like the other three magi was a Zoroastrian proficient in Astronomy and medicine”
“yes, they were. Artaban saw the star of Bethlehem rising and he knew it signified the birth of the promised messiah of the Hebrews. He and the other three magi decided to take gifts and meet the new born king. They were to leave at a pre determined time and follow the star. Artaban sold everything he owned and bought the most expensive blue Sapphire, a red ruby and a white pearl as a gift for the new born baby.
On the day of departure he straddled his best horse and was few miles away from the meeting point, when he saw a man lying in the road and crying. He was sick and dehydrated. The astronomer in Artaban knew, he can’t waste another second, because his friends would leave very shortly. The physician in him knew, if he left the man, he would die”
“Which one would you chose?” I asked beautiful eyes. “Which path would you take? On one hand you have sold everything you owned for this journey, you are just miles away from the meeting point or would you help a sick man?”
“That is a difficult choice to make, isn’t it?” Beautiful eyes whispered
“Artaban chose to help the sick man, he took him to a nearby inn and stayed with the sick man and nursed him till he got better, but when it was time for him to leave, Inn keeper asked for money. Artaban didn’t have any money. He only three precious stones. He took the blue Sapphire from his bag and gave it to the inn keeper. Artaban consoled himself be thinking that he still had another two more stones to give as a gift.”
“Then what happened?”
“Artaban reached Bethlehem and the first house he saw, he went and knocked at the door. A woman opened the door and Artaban saw that she was crying”
“Why?” Beautiful eyes asked
“Why? Because king Herod ordered his soldiers to kill all the boys under the age of 2, hoping he can get rid of the new born king the other three magi came to see. The woman showed her son who was in the living room and begged Artaban to help her save her son’s life. Artaban looked outside, he could see Herod’s soldiers going through the houses looking for boys under the age of 2. So Artaban stood near the door. When the soldier came to check, he gave him the precious Ruby he bought as a gift for the newborn king. Soldier was happy to receive such an expensive Ruby, so he left without killing the baby. Artaban consoled himself thinking that he still had the precious pearl to give as gift to the new born king.
By then Jesus was already in Egypt, so Artaban travelled to Egypt. But again Artaban missed seeing Jesus. For 33 years, Artaban searched for Jesus. Finally he heard that Jesus was in Jerusalem and Artaban came to Jerusalem. It was the day of Jesus’s Crucification and the roads were full of people. Artaban desperately looked around to see Jesus. Then he saw a group of men dragging a slave girl, She looked at Artaban, because she was from the same place and pleaded to him, “Help me, my father borrowed money and couldn’t pay back. These people are taking me away in lieu of payment. Artaban only had one precious pearl with him. He had kept it for 33 years! But the girl’s crying touched his heart. He gave the pearl to the leader of the men as payment and freed the girl.
Suddenly there was an earthquake and slab of stone from the nearby building hit Artaban on his head. The girl whom Artaban saved, took his head and laid on her lap. Artaban was dying and he whispered “Lord, when did I ever feed you? When did I serve you, for 33 years I have looked for you, I never once saw you and a voice from heaven said
“Truly I say this to you, all that you ever did for your needy brothers you did for Me.”
I looked at beautiful eyes. He was deep in thought. Then he looked at me and asked
“What are you searching for Nina?”
I didn’t answer, because at that moment, I knew, that he knew the answer.

The story of the other wise man: Henry Van Dyke

just like that!

The weather in Bangalore changes dramatically in the month of December. The early morning mist, the scorching mid afternoon heat and the sudden drop of temperature in the evening makes life a bit challenging.
However, when you know that you get to meet the one person that mattered the most to you each evening, then nothing can send you to the deep realms of weather induced depression.
I looked forward to the evening carol practice sessions. Murphy’s law dictates that,Time doesn’t move fast when you really want it to fly. I had to endure 24 long hours before the next carol practice session.
exactly at 4.20 pm I walked to Anitha’s room and knocked her door
Anitha opened the door
“What is it Nina?” She asked
“Come let us go” I spoke
“Go? For what?”
“For the carol practice”
“Oh yeah, I almost forgot about it. What time is it?”
“4.30. Hurry up, we will be late”
“Late?” She looked at her watch ” we have another 10 minutes! Why are you in a hurry?”
Why am I in a hurry? I waited 24 long hours already!
aiyyah I don’t want Jomon to get angry for being late again”
“Oh! ok ok. Give me five minutes, I will get ready fast”
That 5 minutes, after the long 24 hours of waiting felt like eternity. Anitha was wearing a salwar when she opened the door. Why did she have to change her clothes again? She isn’t going to get married today right? It is only the carol practice right? Wasting time! I was so annoyed with Anitha.
Anitha came out wearing a blue silk salwar and high heels. She wore high heels for a simple carol practice! Now she will walk at a pace slower than the snail.
“Hurry up” I spoke
“I am” She looked annoyed. But I was even more annoyed. I started to mumble.
“What are you mumbling about?” Anitha asked me
“Nothing. I was remembering the blood supply of hypothalamus”
“That is Circle of Willis right?”
“Right” I nodded my head
“There is a portal system right?”
“Correct Anitha, Come on, let us go”
Anitha stood still
“What are the arteries that forms the portal system?” she asked me
“I don’t know” I silently cursed my big mouth. I didn’t want to tell Anitha that I was mumbling about her high heels, so the nearest word to high heel was hypothalamus and that is why I told her about hypothalamus.
“Give me a sec Nina, I want to check the blood supply to the Hypothalamus”
“Can’t we do it later?”
“No. I will forget. I will be with you in a minute” Anitha started to walk back towards her room. I stood there in the corridor cursing my own stupidity.

Even before we reached the Gallery 1, I could hear someone playing the guitar. I knew it had to be Beautiful eyes.
“We are late”Anitha spoke.
She started to walk fast. I was way too angry to reply. If she had listened to me and not gone back to her room to find out the blood supply to Hypothalamus, We would have reached the gallery on time.
I saw beautiful eyes, as soon as I entered the room. He was sitting on the table with his guitar. There was something magical about seeing him, because at that moment I could feel the storm was over, there was a sense of calm, my anger and irritability vanished instantly. Some of his classmate girls were talking to him and I felt a tinge of jealousy. I felt like telling them to leave my man alone.
“Everybody, come let us practice” Jomon announced.
All the singers stood in the middle of the stage and Jomon started to move his hands in the air. He was trying to be a professional music conductor, but his actions, though genuine was making him look like a mad man with a sword in his hand fighting an imaginary battle.
One of Jomon’s classmate was standing at the back of the gallery and imitating Jomon. Because Jomon was facing us, he couldn’t see it.
No body said a word, but I could see that everyone was laughing at Jomon. For the first time, I felt sorry for him. There is no need to laugh at another person, when nobody is perfect.
After the carol practice, everyone went to sit down. Beautiful eyes sat down next to Caroline.
Caroline was my senior, the most prettiest girl in my college. I watched Beautiful eyes and Caroline talking and laughing. They looked so good together.
There was no way I could compete with Caroline for Beautiful eyes’s attention. She is from a rich Mangalorean family, her dad is a famous Gynaecologist in Mangalore, her oldest sister is doing her master’s in Manipal. Compared to Caroline, I had nothing to offer. All I had was a father, who has a second wife, a mother in love with her brother, a sister who doesn’t want to be part of her family.
I could hear Amma’s words
“Only dream achievable dreams Nina”
I knew for the first time, my mother was right. I was a pauper in all terms and the only thing I owned was my moral values and there was no value for that when it came to a barter trade at the marriage market.

I didn’t want to attend the Carol practice again. I couldn’t bear to see Caroline and Beautiful eyes together.
Part 2 exams were to start in the third week of January. This time I only had to study Anatomy and Physiology.
Part 2 exams are very important, because if you fail the exam, then you would loose 6 months, unlike the part 1 exams, where instead of loosing 6 months, you have the option to rewrite the subjects you failed along with part 2.
Students who failed the part 2 exams will be in an odd batch and generally have more difficult time at the college when it comes to attending lectures as they are neither in the senior group, nor in the junior group.
I didn’t want to be in the odd batch, so I worked hard. I didn’t have any problems with physiology, but Anatomy was really difficult. I could never remember the diagrams. I decided to concentrate on my studies, instead of going for the practice.
I couldn’t concentrate. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see his eyes, then I could see him holding Caroline’s hands. It hurt too much. Why do I not deserve an iota of happiness?
“Nina, why are you not ready?”
I was surprised to see Anitha standing in my room. I didn’t even hear her coming in.
“I am not feeling well” I lied
“What happened to you?”
“throat pain” I lied
Aiyyah. Oh Nina what am I going to do? I don’t want to walk alone to the gallery. You have to come with me. You don’t have to sing. You can sit down on the bench. Please Nina. All the others have gone already. If I had known that you are not going, then I would have gone with them. Now it is too late, Please Nina, please come with me”
“ok. “
I didn’t even bother to change my clothes. I combed my hair and followed Anitha to the gallery 1.
Beautiful eyes wasn’t in the room. Neither was Caroline.

I didn’t want to walk back alone, so I sat down in one of the benches
“Nina, why are you sitting down?” Jomon asked
Before I could answer, Anitha spoke to him and explained that I have throat pain
“Do you want some Strepsils?” Jomon asked
“no thanks”
I watched the students singing the carols, after that there was skit about the three wise men by the juniors. I must have been lost in my thoughts, because I was startled when someone touched my shoulder from the back and asked
“Penny for your thoughts”
“huh” I looked back to see Beautiful eyes sitting right behind me. He must have come in through the back door
“I said, penny for your thoughts” He was grinning
“Ok” I showed him my palm”
“What?” He looked at my hand and me
“Penny” I replied
“What penny?”
“Didn’t you just say, you will give me a penny for my thoughts”
“Oh like that!” He got up and checked his pockets
“Sorry, no penny. I have a cadbury’s bar though, would that do?”
“No. I hate cadbury’s”
I nodded my head. He started to walk towards me
“Move” he ordered.
I moved to the side and he sat next to me. I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating. But at that moment I didn’t really care if it was real or not.
“So what were you thinking?”
“Where is the Penny?”
“I promise, I will give you a penny tomorrow”
“Sure, I promise, I will tell you what I was thinking tomorrow”
“You are really smart”
“You only knew that now?”
“tell me, what were you thinking” He was looking at me and smiling and I told him
Shesham pinney
sorry guys, you have to wait until tomorrow..

Christmas 1989

I know many of you have been waiting to know more about “Beautiful eyes”. The most difficult task for me while I wrote today’s blog was, writing his name. It isn’t right for me to use his real name here and I couldn’t call him anything else.. You can’t call an Apple any other name!
He has always been my Beautiful eyes and so he will be..

“Everybody listen” I was in my room reading a book when I heard someone banging a steel plate and shouting in the corridor. I got up and opened my room door to see what was going on. Most of my seniors were standing outside the corridor.
“All Christian students are requested to meet at the gallery 1 at 4 pm today”
I heard one of the Malayalee senior shouting. I no longer considered myself to be a Christian, so the message didn’t apply to me. I quickly shut the door, before anyone saw me and went back to my room.
There was another reason why I didn’t want to go.. Jomon.
If this was a Christian students meeting, then Jomon would be there in the center. He was the epitome of a Christian crusader. He goes to church every Sunday, he was the leader of the youth group, he even organizes prayer meetings in the hostel. I knew meeting him during a Christian students gathering would be detrimental to my mental and emotional health.
I didn’t want to meet him. I thought of locking my room door, but then I would have to get up each time Aparna or Shylaja wants to come inside. I adjusted my pillow and lay down.
I remembered each and every time my mother scolded me for laying down and reading
“Oh Nina, don’t lay down and read. It will spoil your eye sight. How many times do I have to tell you this?” She would yell every time she saw me laying down and reading.
A part of me hated the way Amma and Maria treated me. But at that moment, all alone in my room,I missed my mother. I wondered how she would be celebrating Christmas? Would she hang a Christmas star? I hoped my youngest sister wouldn’t try to hang the Christmas star. What if she was careless and fall down from the ladder?
Then I remembered the cable! Oh no, the covering at the end was damaged. I was supposed to use a tape and seal it. I had completely forgotten about it. Sally might not even notice it and if she touched the edge she would get electrocuted. I should call home. I looked at the clock. It was almost 4.30 pm. After 9 pm, I get a discount for national phone calls. I decided to wait until then.
I was reading ‘Great expectation’. I have read that story so many times. I really don’t know why, but every December I read the story again. I liked the way Dickens describe Pip’s moods at each stage of his expectation. I could relate to Pip because like him, I also had a nasty mean older sister. Like him, I also chase the unattainable dreams.
What are my expectations? I wondered
Another three and half years, I would be a medical doctor. Then?
I wasn’t sure. I wanted a family, like Arjun’s. But that wasn’t going to happen in my present home. The only way I could create that was to have my own family. I imagined a life with a loving husband, lots of children, a beautiful home and travel around the world.
I hoped I would be able to take my children to Kerala during summer holidays. Everyone I knew either went to their grandparents house or visited their cousins during summer holidays. I never had a place to go during my summer holidays. I wanted my children to have a place to go. But where? Where would my children go? I don’t have a home!
I knew the only solution was to buy Chengannur house from my father. I was sure, I do have a share in that property, being my father’s daughter. But I didn’t want anything free. I didn’t believe in inheritance.
I would have continued to dream, if it wasn’t for the fact that someone pushed the door open again.
I was startled, my heart started to beat fast
“Nina” yelled Anitha
“Why do you always push the door open? Can’t you knock?” I screamed at her
She pretended she didn’t hear me
“Didn’t you hear?”
“Hear what?”
“Jomon is mad at you. Everyone came for the meeting, except you”
“What meeting?”
“Jomon is organizing a Christmas party. Didn’t you hear the seniors calling all the Christian students?”
“No” I lied
“Oh I forgot, you are deaf” She spoke
“hmm” I mumbled
“Come let us go?”
“Everyone is waiting for you at the gallery”
“Didn’t I just tell you that we are organizing a Christmas party?”
“Yeah you did, but why do you need me?”
“Oh Nina, why is it so difficult for you to understand? We are Christians, we have to work together, to make our Christmas party successful”
There was no escape. So I changed my clothes and followed Anitha to the gallery.
I wished I could tell Anitha and Jomon that I was born in to a Christian family, but I am not a Christian. I resented my own inability to tell someone the truth. I resented being forced to do something that I don’t want to do. I planned not to participate in anything. I would remain as a silent spectator.
As soon as I entered the gallery, Jomon saw me. He quickly walked towards me
“Where were you? Why didn’t you come early?”
“I didn’t know”
Before Jomon could ask me anything further, someone else started to talk about what songs they would be singing during the carol service. I used the opportunity to quietly walk to the back of the gallery. I watched the seniors talking about the program. The girls and the boys were arguing about the food, the songs, the invitation etc. I was not interested and I had nothing to do with anything. That was till I saw who walked in to the gallery holding a guitar. He was wearing a cow boy hat, Hawaiian shirt and a bermuda short. He nodded his head as he looked at everyone sitting at the gallery. I knew he saw me, because he smiled at me.
If there was a place called heaven, I was there that moment when Beautiful eyes smiled at me.
Jomon saw it too, because he was looking at Beautiful eyes and me. I looked down quickly.
Beautiful eyes went and sat on the table and started to strum his guitar. He started to play Blue Christmas
“What song is that?” Jomon asked Beautiful eyes
“You have never heard it before?”
“No” Jomon replied
“it is blue Christmas” The room was suddenly quiet and Beautiful eyes started to play the song again. I couldn’t resist singing along. He must have heard me singing and he looked up and asked me.
“You know the song?”
I nodded my head
“Sing along louder, so I can hear you”
I suddenly felt too shy.”nah” I replied
“Come on, sing along”
“yes Nina, sing, sing the song” One of the senior’s asked me
“Come on” Beautiful eyes got up from the table and started to walk up the steps to where I was sitting.
“I will play the guitar, you sing. Alright?”
I looked around the room, everyone was staring at me. Beautiful eyes started to play the guitar and when it was my turn to sing, no song came out of my throat.
“Come on, sing the song. Don’t make me keep playing the guitar” He looked a bit grumpy.
If I could, I would have got the heaven for him to wipe that grumpiness off his face. Instead I told him
“Play again, I will sing”
“Ok” he started to play the song and I sang the song for him
I’ll have a blue christmas
without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green christmas tree
Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me
And when those blue snowflakes start falling
That’s when those blue memories start calling
You’ll be doin all right, with your christmas of white
But I’ll have a blue, blue blue blue christmas
I’ll have a blue christmas without you,’ without youI’ll be so blue just thinking about you
Youll be doin all right, with your christmas of white,
But I’ll have a blue, blue christmas

As soon as I finished singing the song, he looked at me and spoke
“You have a lovely voice”
“Thanks” I replied
“What kind of a song is that? Blue Christmas? Christmas is always red. We don’t want to sing any blue Christmas song” Jomon looked visibly angry
“What ever you say, you are the boss!” Beautiful eyes told Jomon
“We will sing Jingle bells and Rudolph the red nosed reindeer” Jomon decided
“ok” Beautiful eyes spoke.
As he turned to walk down, he looked at me once again and winked. A wink that kind of said,’Jomon is a Jerk, he thinks he is so smart by choosing a familiar Christmas carol, may be he really doesn’t know that there are other Christmas carols!’
I couldn’t stop but smile because I felt the same way too.

In the evening, I phoned home. Amma picked up the phone
“Amma it is me Nina, can I speak to Sally?”
“Sally, Nina wants to talk to you”
I heard Amma putting the receiver on the counter. There were no pleasantries exchanged. Amma and I were two strangers connected by 9 months of womb rental and an umbilical cord that has been cut 18 years ago. Nothing else.

“Hello” I heard Sally’s voice. It was so good to hear my baby sister’s voice
“hey, it is me.Did you get my gift?”
“Oh yes Nina, thank you for the ‘Five run away together’ book, will you send me the rest of the books too? My friends are jealous of me, they say I have the best sister in the whole world, who sends me all the books”
When Sally asked me, if I would send her the rest of the books, I was planning to ask her
‘What does she think? That I have a money printing machine here? That I can afford to buy all the books and send it to her? But when I heard the part of being the best sister in the whole world, I kind of felt so good. All I ever wanted was to be the best sister!
“I will try. I called to tell you something important”
“What? Did you find a boy friend?”
I thought of beautiful eyes
“may be” I replied
“Is he handsome?”
“Hmm” I replied
“Who is handsome?” I heard Amma shouting
“Oh nothing Amma, Nina was talking about the book she send me” Sally quickly spoke to Amma
“Listen Sally, I called to tell you, Don’t touch the Christmas star cable. The covering is damaged. You will get fried if you touch it. So don’t touch it. Do you understand?”
“Are you going to come home for Christmas Nina?”
“Nah, I have to study”
I could have gone home for a few days, but I didn’t want to miss the Christmas party, especially because Beautiful eyes would be there
“ok” Sally sounded sad
“I promise, I will come home after the exams, then we will go to Best bakery and eat the puffs”
“Bye Sally. Say my hello to Amma. Ok”
“Bye Nina”

Living with Dyslexia

I have never told anyone until yesterday that I am dyslexic. May be it was the stubbornness inborn in me that made me not tell anyone. May be it was just that I didn’t want any one’s sympathy. Most of all I guess I didn’t want Maria to call me
“Nina Thomas, deaf and dumb and dyslexic”( it rhymes too!!)

But growing up with an undiagnosed dyslexia was really hard. It felt like I was in a prison and I couldn’t break free. I had so many other imperfections and add to all that I felt I was plain dumb.
There was one time my school bus had a break down and didn’t come to the school to fetch the students after school. All the other students just walked home. I remember standing near the main entrance of the school, crying because I didn’t know how to walk back to my own home.
I was taught not to talk to strangers, not to follow anyone else. So I stood there crying and feeling so stupid, because everyone knew the way to their home, everyone but me. It was getting dark and there was nobody else around. I stood there thinking I am going to die, the lions and the leopards will come out any time to eat me.
Eventually Amma did come looking for me and I remember how much she scolded me. I can still hear her shouting” you are just so dumb” and I remember feeling, it is true, I am really dumb. Because there was no other explanation as to why I don’t know the way to my own home.
I used to get zero for all the spelling test at the school. I remember being mocked by the teacher and all the students in my class. In fact the girls in my class had such a gala time picking on me. We used to sit in a long bench( Kottayam) and because I am deaf, I had to sit in the front bench aisle seat. There were about 4 or 5 students sat in the same bench. Their leader was Reena mol. Every time, when the teacher leaves the room, Reena mol, would get all her friends to stand up together at the same time. Because I sit on the edge and the bench will act as a cantilever, resulting in me falling down. Everyone used to laugh. It was so painful to watch everyone mocking me and it convinced me further that I am dumb.
I used to be so mad at Reena mol. I knew everything about her, I knew she was abandoned at birth, that she has been raised by someone else, that she only had one set of school uniform. I could have/I wanted to tell the truth about her to her gang members. I didn’t, not because I am a saint, but because I felt, I am anyway deaf and dumb and blind, telling her friends truth about her isn’t going to make me ‘not deaf and dumb and blind’.
I remember my geography teacher laughing at me, because I couldn’t draw a map of India for the exam. I remember her telling me, even the beggars standing outside the school entrance knew how to draw the map of India. It was humiliating because I had no way of explaining to anyone, why I can’t draw a simple map. The only possible explanation was “I am dumb”
I still don’t know where Kottayam is in the geographical map. I still get confused between east and west. Although I know the history of most countries, the only three countries I can identify in the world map is India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Although I know all the states in Malaysia, I do not know where they are located on the map. I do not even know where Kuala Lumpur is on the map.

Once during the biochemistry practicals at the Medical college, I had to heat some liquid in a beaker and then cool it. I kept the beaker on the rack above the spirit lamp and heated it. To cool it, my super intelligent brain only knew one way, that was to remove the burning hot rack with the beaker on top of it away from the flame( burned my fingers too!!), instead of just removing the spirit lamp from underneath the rack. The lab attendant was watching me and he pointed to all my class mate guys how dumb I am!! I still remember how the guys in my class were shaking their head and telling each other how stupid Nina is!

Even my diagnosis didn’t come easy. When I first went to the Medical department, the doctors laughed at me. They had never heard of anyone who didn’t know where is east and west! They told me, I must be imagining it. One doctor even told me, I am just plain lazy. I knew he actually meant dumb, but didn’t want to use such a harsh word on a medical student.
It was a visit to Mother Theresa’s orphanage in Bangalore and a chance discussion with one of the nuns there, who was specialized in Childhood dyslexia, that finally changed my life. She was the first person to tell me that there is a perfect explanation for not knowing where is east and west is and it has nothing to do with my IQ. She referred me for further tests and I was diagnosed. Finally I knew, I am not dumb. The prison I am stuck in fianlly had a name. Dyslexia.

Living with a dyslexic mother is really hard on the kids.
My oldest daughter not only had to tell me, when someone is ringing the calling bell( I can’t hear at that frequency) or when my hand phone is ringing or when her baby brother was crying for milk, she also had to be the guide and concentrate on the road when I was driving. I had to depend on her to tell me, if I am travelling in the wrong road( mama, the house near Carrefour had a green gate! I can’t see that gate, I think we are lost!!).

Once I bought my son a hot wheels car wash set for his 4th birthday. It was something he really wanted. His best friend has the same and he used to beg me to buy one for him. I remember how excited he was, when he opened the gift wrap.
He opened the box , took all the pieces out and asked me to help him assemble it. I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to do it.
My son was too young to understand why his mother is so Dumb. He kept begging me to read the instruction manual. I read and read and read the instruction manual. I just couldn’t follow the instruction. He was so frustrated and eventually he kicked the toy and walked off saying I hate you mama.
I wanted to assemble that toy so badly, I wanted to get out of the prison that I am in. But the truth is, there is nothing that I can or anyone can do that would fix my dyslexia.
I could score the highest marks for medicine, I could tell you what I wore when I was 10 years old, I could even tell you what colour was the flowers on that dress, but I couldn’t fix a simple hot wheel toy! That is Dyslexia! That is what I live with each day!

Stupid, stupid mother and her stupid daughter

It looked like my arrival was well planned. As soon as the car arrived at the so called officer’s mess, another police officer opened my door and asked me to follow. I looked around the corridor. I had no idea where I was and I was beginning to get afraid. How stupid was I to get in to the car? Why didn’t I tell the driver some lie and not go with him? Why didn’t I ask Amma to come and fetch me? Why am I so stupid?
As we walked we passed by a room with the sign board that said recreation room. I looked through the open door and I noticed a pool table in the middle and someone was playing billiards. I consoled myself, if anything happend to me, all I have to do is scream, at least someone would hear my screams and come to my aid.
Soon the police man stopped in front of a door and knocked. I looked around the corridor hoping there is someone else witnessing all this and will come to my aid, if I need it. There was nobody.
I thought may be I should just run. But I didn’t know the way out.
For years I have been suffering from this inability to find my way out of any building. I can’t read a map and even the simple things like drawing the arterial route for surface anatomy was difficult for me. Yet I can remember everything that I read. I knew there is something wrong with me.
Many a times I tried to explain to Amma that I am afraid to enter a new building, because I don’t know how to come out, she would laugh at me, telling me that is the strangest thing she ever heard. And now I realized the seriousness of the situation I was in. I didn’t know which way to run.
I heard someone opening the door and I was really glad to see my mother standing there. Amma was wearing a nighty.
“Thank you” Amma nodded to the police man
He just nodded his head and went off
“Get inside” Amma ordered
I walked inside and Amma slammed the door shut. In an instant I saw Amma’s hand swinging to strike me and I ducked quickly. She then held both my shoulders and pushed me back. My head hit the door
“Where did you go?” She was screaming
“Excuse me?” I asked her
“Don’t do your dumb charade now Nina, I know you heard me. Where did you go on Saturday?”
“I came to town”
“Why? With whom?”
“With Arjun”
“Who is Arjun? Your husband?”
“No, he isn’t my husband. He is my classmate”
“Why did you go with him”
“What is this all about?”
“You think I am raising a prostitute?”
“Are you?” I couldn’t help but be nasty
“You tell me” Amma started to hold my hair and shake me. She pushed me against the door again and my back hit the door knob and it was hurting. I pushed Amma away with all my strength.
“Stop hurting me Amma”
“I gave birth to you and I will do whatever I want. So you better tell me why you came to Bangalore?”
“Why should I Amma?”
“Why should I? You are asking me why should you? I raised you till now and you are asking me why should you” She charged towards me and I quickly moved away from the door.
“Well, if I remember correctly, telling you anything didn’t help me at all. I remember the last time I told you something your darling brother did to me, you slapped me, So why should I tell you anything”
” How could you sell yourself so cheap Nina? Have you thought about your sisters? How can you sleep with every Tom, Dick and Harry? Have you no self respect?”
What did my mother say just now? She thought I was sleeping with Arjun? What does she think of me? I felt so sick
“I came to Bangalore to see a doctor. I told you a thousand times in the last 6 years that my periods are irregular. You never bothered to take me to a doctor. So I decided to do it myself”
“Oh! you came to Bangalore to see a doctor ah! Are you not studying in a medical college? They don’t have doctors there? What kind of an idiot you think I am? Or is it something else?” Amma was mocking me
I wasn’t sure what Amma meant by is it something else? I ignored that remark
“Amma, I didn’t want the senior boys to examine me. That is why I didn’t go to my hospital clinic”
“Oh, Why ah? You have some special indinga‘s( imaginary stuff)?”
This conversation wasn’t going anywhere. I opened the latch
“Where are you going?”
“Did you not know that I turned 18 couple of months ago? I no longer have to answer to you” Before Amma could reach me, I was out of the door. I knew Amma won’t chase me, because she was wearing a nighty!
“Nina, come back. I said come back to the room”
“Go to hell Amma.”
“I will teach you a lesson. I promise you that”
I didn’t bother to reply. All my life Amma was promising to teach me a lesson. There was nothing more to learn. I have learned that!
I saw a man walking in the corridor and I asked
“Excuse me, can you tell me where the recreation room is?”
He gave me the direction and I got lost twice. By the time I came out of the officer’s mess, I promised myself that I will consult someone to find out why do I find it so difficult when it comes to direction*.

I took a bus back to my hostel. Shailaja was in the room when I came back
“Oh Nina, you just missed your sister”
“What Sister? Which one?”
“Your oldest sister. She came to see you. She waited for you for more than an hour”
I quickly opened my cupboard.I knew I should have locked the cupboard. But I didn’t have time to go out and buy a lock.
I checked my clothes. They have been moved. I checked my drawer. All the documents from Dr. DG’s clinic was missing. I was so mad. I walked to the phone room. It took me a while to find the officer’s mess phone number. I called the number and asked to speak to my mother.
I heard Amma picking up the phone and before I could say Hello she spoke
“Hello. Yeah Maria went to her room. She got a doctor’s note from some clinic in Bangalore”
“Mother, this is Nina speaking. I want the doctor’s notes back”
There was a moment of silence before Amma spoke
“What notes? What are you talking about”
“The one Maria took from my room, the same notes you were talking about just now. Also can you tell Maria to return all the negatives she took from my drawer?”
“I don’t know anything about any doctor’s notes or negatives. Stop wasting my time Nina” She put the phone down
I wanted to scream. I slammed the receiver down. But that action alone didn’t take my anger away. I started to box and kick and punch the walls. My knuckles were painful. Some part of my brain kept begging me to stop, but I just couldn’t. I wanted to kill Amma, Maria and my uncle. They have been playing with my life for so long.
When my uncle hurt me, my mother didn’t do anything. Instead she said I have a fertile imagination. And now, when I didn’t do anything She was coming after me, as though I did something terrible. What was Amma and Maria planning to do with me?
Why are they harassing me like this?
By the time I cooled down, my knuckles were bleeding. I felt a tremendous amount of satisfaction seeing the blood on my hand. I felt so stupid for feeling like that. It was my own blood for heaven sake.

*I was dignosed to be suffering from a visual spatial dyslexia( more spatial than visual). I still can’t read a map, still suffer from a phobia of entering a new building, still get lost all the times.



A Moment If You Please,

Moments Can Be Short,

Moments Can Be Long,

There Are Moments Of Joy,

Moments Of Sorrow,

Moments Of Passion,

Moments You’ll Never Forget,

Moments Youve Already Forgotten,

Moments You Didn’t Get,

There Are Awkward Moments,

Senior Moments,

Moments Of Truth

And Momentary Lapses In Judgment,

People Who Ask For A Moment,

Share A Moment,

I Need A Moment,

You Got A Moment?

Wait A Moment ,

You Can Take A Moment,

Make A Moment,

Spoil A Moment,

And If All The Stars Line In The Right Moment,

That Moment Can Be Perfect,

Moments Can Define You,

Moments Can Delight You,

And Moments Can Change Your Life,

Heres To The Moment

And Squeezing All You Can Out Of Every Last Single One Of Them
Will be back on Monday. Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend.



I woke up hearing someone praying. Arjun’s father was ringing a bell and singing a prayer. It reminded me of Ammachi’s morning prayer at Chengannur house. Two different religions, two different cultures, yet so similar.
One by one Arjun’s sisters got up, folded their mattress and placed it in the corner of the room. I too did the same.
By the time I came out of the bed room, Preetha was already sweeping the rooms. As soon as Preetha finished sweeping the room, Deepti came with a bucket full of water and a towel and started to mop the floor. This would have never happend in my house. Maria would have said her arms are aching, Liza would have said, she has to do some other important chore and I would have done the sweeping and the mopping all by myself! What makes these Marwari’s so different? They do everything together.
I walked to the kitchen, hoping may be I can help making the breakfast. There was no sign of Arjun and everyone was busy doing so many things at the same time.
Arjun’s mother was in the kitchen and as soon as she saw me, she pointed the tea kettle. I understood that the tea is ready. I took a cup from the cupboard and poured a cup of tea.
“Ma, Can I help you?”
“Help?” Kya help?”
“To cook?”
She started to laugh and I was trying to figure out if I committed some serious blunder
Arjun’s mother came towards me and held my hand. She started to walk towards the living room. She spoke something to her mother who was sitting on the huge wooden box/bed and both of them started to laugh.
Preetha was outside sweeping the courtyard and I called out to her
“Preetha,Why are your mother and grandmother laughing at me?”
Preetha came towards the door and after a quick chattering in Marwari, everyone started to laugh. I felt so small.
“Can you please tell me, why are you laughing?”
“Oh Nina, first of all, you are our guest, you are not here to do the cooking, second of all, my mother made the breakfast an hour before you woke up, so there is nothing to help. My mother was laughing because, this is the first time, she had a malayalee girl coming to her kitchen and asking if she could help”
“Why is that funny?” I asked
“It is funny, because according to my mother, even her own daughters never bother to ask her if she needs help in the kitchen. So my mother was very touched!”
“Oh!” Arjun’s mother was looking at me and smile
“My mother thinks we are all lazy!” Deepti spoke
I didn’t say anything because I knew one another mother who thinks her daughters are lazy!
“Where is Arjun?” I asked Preetha
“Oh He is having his royal sleep. You will be lucky, if he wakes up before lunch”
“Really? who is going to take me to the clinic?”
“Me” Preetha answered.
“Oh ok” It felt so good to be with Preetha. She was becoming the sister I always wanted.
I sat on the wooden box/bed with Arjun’s grandmother. She was talking to me in Marwari and each time she laughed, I laughed too. I knew I really looked like an idiot, but Arjun’s grandmother was really enjoying talking to me and it didn’t really matter that I didn’t understand anything.
Every now and then one of Arjun’s sister would come and ask us to get up from the box. She then would roll the mattress to one side, open the lid and take lentils, rice, etc from the wooden box. I was expecting the grandmother to scold the grand daughter for disturbing her each time. But she didn’t. Everyone in Arjun’s house seemed to know the meaning of tolerence.

Unlike dinner, the family didn’t eat the breakfast together. Deepti ate first, she then took some food in a plate and was on her way out, when she the puzzled look on my face.
“My cousin’s wife has gone to visit her parents, so I am taking breakfast for him”

Preetha and I ate breakfast together. We had poha cooked with potatoes.
“What about Arjun? Doesn’t he want breakfast?” I asked
“Oh, someone does think about Arjun eh?” Preetha was grinning
Aiyyah, not like that” I didn’t know what else to say.
“Yeah, yeah” Preetha nodded her head.

Around 9.30, Preetha and I got ready to go to the clinic.
“Is the clinic near here?” I asked Preetha
“Yes, 10 minutes ride”
“I only have 100 notes, how much do you think the auto will costs?”
“Auto? What auto?”
“Auto rickshaw”
“We are going in my Luna”
“Huh? You have a moped?”
“Of course”
“You know how to ride a bike?”
“Of course. Why Nina? Why are you surprised?”

Preetha was looking at me stunned. I didn’t know how to explain to her that girls in Kerala were never really allowed to ride a bike. In fact when Liza was in school, Amma went to the school headmistress and asked permission for Liza to use a bicycle and the headmistress scolded Amma saying
“this is a reputed convent school meant for girls from reputed families, not for maramkeris (tomboys)”
“Do you know how to ride a bike?” Preetha asked
I shook my head and said “No”
“I will ask Arjun to teach you” She replied

The clinic was in Basavangudi. I had an Appointment with Dr. DG.
The Dr was a chubby cheerful lady and as soon as She saw Preetha She asked
“How is the baby?”
“She is doing well, Doctor”
“Your sister is still breastfeeding?”
“Yes Doctor”
“Good” She then turned to me and asked,”So what is the problem?”
I explained to her the history of my irregularly irregular periods.
She asked me to lay down on the examination table. Only then did I notice the huge machine by the side of the table. I have heard of ultra sound machine. It was the first time I saw one. I watched the Dr, placing the probe on my belly. I looked at the screen. I couldn’t figure out anything. I was so afraid what the Dr is going to find! Tumors everywhere? I looked at the Dr’s face to see if there is any changes in her expression. A sure sign that she found some cancer.

“I don’t see anything abnormal. We will do a blood test” She put the probe back.
The relief I felt that moment was beyond explanation. I knew Appa would be relieved to learn that his Karma isn’t that bad!

Arjun was still asleep when we returned from the clinic.
“Nina, what time do you have to be back in the hostel?” Preetha asked
“Around 5”
“Do you want to go for a movie?”
“Which one?”
“There is a Micheal J Fox movie, called secret of my success. You want to go?”
My sister lives in Bangalore and I never got a chance to go for a movie with her, a stranger wants to take me out for a movie! This must be part of my fate!
I wanted to ask What about Arjun? But I didn’t want to start another session of teasing.
“I will ask Arjun, if he wants to join” Preetha spoke
Half an hour later, Arjun, Preetha and I was ready to go for the movie.
“Are you coming with me or you want to go with Arjun?” preetha asked
“huh? Are you not coming?” I asked Preetha
“I am. I asked, if you want to follow Arjun on his bike”
That is when I noticed, Arjun was starting another moped parked by the side of the house.
“I will follow you” I felt a bit shy to follow Arjun

It was the first time I went to watch a movie in Bangalore. Arjun bought popcorn, Torino and a bar of chocolate for Preetha and me. Preetha sat in the aisle seat, I sat next to her and Arjun sat next to me. All through the movie, I knew Arjun was looking at me. It made me uncomfortable, at the same time my heart was feeling a bit funny. After the intermission, Arjun reached out and held my hand and I stopped watching the movie, rather I was staring at the screen, but my mind was elsewhere. I was so afraid, what Preetha would think if she saw that her brother was holding my hand.

After the movie was over Arjun asked
“Do you want me to drop you to the hostel?”
“No” I shook my head. I didn’t want to sit next to him on his moped. “I will take the bus”
“Do you know how to go back?” he asked

I came back to the hostel around 5.30. Both my room mates weren’t in the room. A part of me was so excited, a part of my still liked beautiful eyes and I remembered what someone write in my 10 standard autograph
Snehicha hippiye kittiyillenkil, kittiye kashandiye snehikkuka“( can someone please do justice to this sentence and translate it?). I needed to take a shower and hopefully that would clear my head.
I opened my cupboard to take a change of clothes. I stared inside. Everything was wrong. I keep my clothes following a particular order. RGB, primary colours together. My white colour clothes were in the middle of red and green colour clothes. That is impossible. I always kept the whites separate. I quickly checked the money that I usually keep underneath the newspaper lining. It was there. Nothing else was moved. Did I make a mistake? Did I accidentally keep my white colour clothes along with the coloured clothes?
I must have made a mistake.Who would want to go through my clothes? Besides if someone was trying to steal the money, they would have noticed the money underneath the newspaper lining.
But something wasn’t right. I looked at my bookshelf. My books were still in the same order, but someone had moved it. Because I keep everything in a straight line.
I opened my desk drawer. All my papers, letters were still there. But the negatives were missing.
Appa had given me a camera before I joined the medical college. Because I was the only one in my class to have a camera, I became the official photographer.
I had kept all the negatives in a cover, so I can send them to Appa to get more prints.( because it is cheaper to do so in the middle east than in Bangalore). Even Dr. Rajesh had been asking for a copy of few photos and I have been planning to send all the negatives to Appa soon.Now the whole bunch of negatives were missing. What am I going to tell all my professors? How am I going to get them the copies? Who took all my negatives. I had to find out.
I went out to the corridoor and shouted
“Aparna, Aparna”
Soon she came out from one of the senior’s room in the third floor
“yes Nina, What is it?”
“Can you please come here, I need to ask you something”
When she came down to our room, I asked
“Who took all my stuff?”
“What stuff?”
“My negatives that I kept in the drawer?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t take any of your stuff”
“Who opened my cupboard?”
“I don’t know Nina. I was with the seniors. I didn’t see anyone opening your cupboard. Who would want to open your cupboard anyway? Besides, you should always lock your cupboard”
I didn’t say anything. I didn’t lock because I had nothing to hide, but now I knew I made a mistake.
But I still didn’t know who wanted the negatives. Shylaja couldn’t have. She went home on friday itself. Who else??

On Tuesday after the dissection, I came back to the hostel and I heard someone shouting my name and saying
“Nina, you have a phone call”
I ran to take the call. Is everything ok at home? Nobody calls me at this time of the day. may be something happend. I picked up the phone and said a very nervous
“it is me, Amma. I have send the car already. I am staying at the officer’s mess. I spoke to your principal already. I expect to see you in the next 30 minutes”
“Huh? What is going on Amma? is everything ok?” I asked amma
Amma didn’t even answer. She just slammed the phone down.

I stared at the receiver in my hand. What exactly is going on? Why is Amma in Bangalore? Which officer’s mess is she staying in? How do I know this call isn’t a trap? What if my uncle is trying to kill me?
“Nina, someone wants to see you” I heard someone else shouting.
A part of me wanted to run, but it was too late. parked right in front of my hostel entrance was an unmarked police car. The driver was already standing outside looking at all the students. The driver was the same guy who drove us from Bangalore to Mysore. He saw me and opened the passener side door.
I looked at the students crowding around the entrance. Everyone wanted to see who was my visitor. I wanted to run, but I just couldn’t. There was no place to run.
I got in to the car and the driver started the car. As we crossed the canteen, I saw Arjun standing near the entrance. He was speaking to someone. I wanted to run to him and ask him to help me, but the car was already zooming.


As I waited for Arjun outside the college main gate, I wondered if I am doing the right thing?
I have known Arjun for 17 months. He has never failed to get novels for me from the Eloor public Library. Without me asking he has even brought pickles for me from his home. I knew I can trust him. But trust wasn’t a major issue. Apart from my uncle’s house in Mysore and my family home in Chengannur, I have never stayed in anyone else’s house. I didn’t know how I should behave? What are the things I am supposed to say and do? I was afraid of making a fool of myself.
“Come let us go” Arjun came near me.
“ok” I mumbled
“It will be easier if we take the bus from the junction”
“Ok” I mumbled again.
He started to walk and I followed him
I thought of singing
mumbey gamichidum govu thante,
pimbe gamichidum bahu gokkalellam!! (herds of buffaloes always follow the leader!).
Arjun was walking pretty fast and I tried to match with his pace. He turned to look at me.
“Give me your bag”
“Women! If you don’t offer to carry their bags for them, they grumble, if you ask them to give the bag so you can carry it, then they question your motive!! Why oh Why it is so hard to take care of a woman?”
“I can carry my bag” I held the bag closer to me
“Did I ever say you can’t? I said I will help you to carry it. See this! I got muscles” He pointed to his biceps.
“Where? I can’t see” I pretended to do a closer inspection of the biceps on his upper arm.
“My God, you are too much. I am not carrying your bag for you”
“Did I ever ask you?” I started to laugh
“Why are you laughing?” He asked
“nah.. the ironies of life. You said you can never understand a woman and I was thinking it should be the other way around. The problem is the man. I can’t understand their way of thinking!”
“There you go!”
“Always blame the man!! You are just like my sisters! Always blaming me for everything! Did you know they blame me even when it rains. The moment it starts raining they would ask, Arjun, what did you do? As though I am the lord of rains!”
Lung” I spoke without thinking much
“Lungs? What lungs?” Arjun looked at me as though I have gone mad.
“nah, nothing. I was thinking something else”
“What? Tell me, what Lung were you thinking?”
I looked at Arjun to see what he would say if I told him the truth.
“Tell me Nina, what were you thinking?”
“When you spoke about the lord of rain, I remembered the story of Lung”
“Lungs? The thing inside our chest? What does our lungs got to do with rain?”
Aiyyah Lung is a horned dragon, Chinese people believe it is the god of rain”
“How do you know that?” He looked at me sceptically
How do I tell him that I was fortunate enough to have been born in a country that is rich in myths?
“I read a lot”
“Really? What is a dragon?” The look on Arjun’s face clearly suggested that he didn’t believe me.
“Dragon is a creature that has a head like a camel, horns like a deer, eyes like a hare, ears like a bull, neck like an iguana, scales like those of a carp, paws like a tiger, and claws like an eagle.”
“Oh my God! Wow Nina, you do know so much”
“nah, there is so much I don’t know”

We had take 2 buses to reach Arjun’s home. I was getting a bit nervous. what would his parents say, when he brings a girl home?
As we walked towards his home I asked one more time
“Arjun, are you sure your parents won’t mind you bring me to your house?”
“Nina, they know you. I have told them about this mad girl, who skips all the classes and still score more marks than everyone else!”
Arjun’s family home was a 2 story building. The first thing I noticed as we reached his home was the main door. It was wide open. There were couple of kids playing cricket in front of his house
arey bhaiyya, ye kon hai?” (brother, who is this beautiful damsel??) One of the boys yelled.
“Get lost” Arjun yelled back
Soon there was a ruckus of kids whistling and screaming and some of then women came out to see what is going.
“Come Nina, let me introduce you to my mother and sisters” I followed Arjun
He spoke something in Marwari to his mother
Ayiye betty, anthar ayiye( come inside)” She looked at me and smiled.
I followed Arjun’s mother and walked inside. I could hear Arjun talking to his sister’s in Marwari. I looked around the room. There was a huge wooden box by the side of the living room with a mattress on top. On it sat an elderly lady wearing a white saree. Her face looked so serene. She reminded me of my Ammachi.
“Nina, this is my grandmother” Arjun introduced
He again spoke something in Marwari to his grandmother. She showed her hand and asked me to sit next to her.
She started speaking to me and I didn’t understand anything. Soon one of Arjun’s sister came to me and introduced
“Hi, I am Preetha”
“Oh Hi, I am..” before I could say my name, she spoke again, “I know it is Nina. Arjun makes me go to the library and get books for you. He is such a lazy fellow.”
“You have been getting the books for me?”
“He never told you?”
“Hey Arjun, you never told Nina that you have been making me go to the library to get books for her?” She asked her brother and in seconds we became the best friends. Preetha introduced me to her sisters, Deepti, Rajashree, Dhanya”
“Do you want to see the baby?”
“Of course”
“Come let us go” She started to walk and I followed her. We went to the first floor and rang the bell
A beautiful lady wearing a skirt and a long dupatta over her head opened the door.
“Nina, this is Divya, my oldest sister” “Arjun’s classmate” She introduced me to Divya
Divya looked at me top to bottom and then she smiled
“Come on in.” she moved aside and allowed me to go inside”
I looked around the room. There were only 2 folding chairs in the living room. I watched Divya going inside her bedroom and bringing her baby for me to see.
“Do you want to hold the baby?” She asked
“hmm” I nodded my head
I haven’t held a baby in my hand for so long. It felt so good to hold a baby in my hands.
“What is her name”
“Oh that is such a lovely name” I touched the baby’s soft cheeks. Why is that my older sister, my beautiful,well educated sister is still not married, when girls like Divya are happily married and settled down? When would I get a chance to hold my niece? Why am I being deprived of all these little joys of life?

Here is a house, with hardly any furniture, yet all you hear is laughter and more laughter. My father worked overseas, so he can provide better things for his children. What would have happened, if we didn’t have all the luxuries? I knew, I would have given up everything that I owned for a moment of happiness with my family! Just one moment of happiness.

Preetha and I sat on the steps and talked. We had so much to talk. I was just so glad to find a friend
“Preetha, ma, is calling” Arjun came out to call us
I walked with Preetha and Arjun.
“Nina, go wash your hands and join us for dinner” Deepti spoke to me. She was sweeping the living room.
I followed Preetha and walked to the back of the house’
“We, Marwari’s don’t have toilets inside the house, it is always constructed outside” Preetha spoke
“It was the same for us Malayalees too! In the olden times, toilets were constructed far away from the house. But now no one follows such rules”
I washed my hands and went back inside
Everyone was sitting on the floor.
“Are you able to sit on the floor and eat?” Preetha asked. If you can’t, I will get a chair for you”
“nah, I am fine” I sat on the floor, remembering all the onam sadya’s I had as a child. Sitting down on the floor and eating from the banana leaf. What happened to my culture? What made my people, who used to sit on the floor to eat suddenly stat using a table and chair to sit? Was the table a sign of affluence? I had no idea.
I had roti, dal and fried okra for dinner. I, the person who never eat Okra, ate every single slice in my plate. Not because it was tasty, but because, until then I never had a meal, with so much of jokes and stories being told, and in that moment of being part of a very happy family I didn’t realize that I was eating Okra!

When it was time to go to bed, Preetha got me a mattress and placed it next to hers on the floor. All the sisters slept in the same room. We talked, till Arjun’s father yelled from his room
“If I hear another word, I will come with a stick”
“shhh. Preetha spoke. “Papa is angry. Let us sleep”

Update: Only after I clicked the publish icon I remembered, today, March 21st is the International day for the elimination of racial discrimination.Today commemorates the 47 th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre. 69 innocent people were killed for protesting against the ‘pass laws’

I sincerely wish that with our knowledge, skills and common sense, We can look at another person as a human and understand that no race is superior.
Malaysians.. say no to NEP


I was studying about the physiology of periods and I read about irregular periods. I had irregular periods. My book said, it is a hormonal disorder. But there was one line that caught my attention. Endometrial hyperplasia can cause cancer!
I read thee line again and again. The words were becoming clear to me.
‘Oh my goodness, I could be having cancer and I never knew’.
I quickly walked to the library. When no one was looking, I took a OBG text book from the shelf and started to read. I didn’t understand most of the terms in the book. But I did understand one thing. Irregular periods is a sign of cancer!
I always wanted to die, but now I wasn’t so sure. I felt suffocated, thinking about being locked up in a casket. How would I be able to breath? Then I realized Oh silly me, if you are dead, you wouldn’t be breathing!
I have never been to a funeral of my family members. Mine would be the first, everyone in my family will be attending. I could see, Appa, Amma and my sisters crying and walking behind the hearse. I have only seen the push cart type hearse in Kottayam. It had a poem written in Malayalam by the side in big block letters.
innu njan naley nee( today it is my turn, tomorrow it would be you).
I tried to remember the poem by G Sankara Kurup
innu njan naley nee
innu njan naley nee
innum pradidwanikkunnithen ormayil…..
karaskarathin kuru palil ittal
kalantharey kaippu kshamikkathullu
(sorry guys,, I read this poem when I was 13 years old.. I don’t remember all the words now.. sorry for killing such a beautiful poem)
I couldn’t remember the verses, All I could see was the tear stained faces of my mother and my father. I remembered, when I was about 5 years old, my father getting ready to attend the funeral of his best friend’s son who died in a boat accident. I remembered what he told my mother that day
“Burying your own child is the worst Karma one can ever get. I hope to God that he will never punish us by taking our children’s lives before he takes ours. Parents are supposed build cribs for their children, not coffins”
My mother went to where my father was standing and leaned on Appa’s chest and he hugged her. Although that moment was really precious, when my parents openly hugged each other in front of us, children, I also understood their pain and their fear.
I didn’t want my parents to suffer. I didn’t want to bring tears to their eyes. I wanted to live. I wanted to live for my family.

First things first. I needed to see a doctor. My college had the most reputable doctors in Bangalore. I planned to see the gynaecology head of the department first thing in the morning.
I closed the books and kept it back on the shelf. With a heavy heart I walked back to my hostel. What is I am really dying? Should I write a will? I don’t really own much things. So I felt there was no point in writing a will.
The only question was where would I be buried? Will my family bury me in Kottayam or Chengannur? I didn’t want to be buried in Kottayam. Once Amma move to Bangalore, who would visit my grave?
What about Chengannur? No it wasn’t a good idea. I didn’t want to be buried in Chengannur, because they will take my body to Chengannur house. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want Ammachi to cry. Burying your favourite grand daughter would be the worst karma any grandmother could get. My Ammachi didn’t deserve that.
I will have to ask my parents to bury me in Bangalore. Once I am dead and gone, would any one remember me? Would anyone visit my grave on Ching ming?
Knowing my family, I knew they would have plenty of excuses for not visiting my grave.
Then I spoke to myself
‘You are really stupid Nina, once you are dead, what is the point in worrying about someone coming and cleaning your tomb stone?’ How would it make any difference to you? You are dead, over and out.
I didn’t have any appetite to eat my dinner. So I went back to my room. Aparna was just about to leave for the mess to eat dinner
“Are you ok Nina?” Aparna asked
“Of course”
“You look pale” She spoke again
paleness is another sign of cancer! I must be really dying, I thought
“No I am fine Aparna. I have a head ache. I think I will lay down and sleep”
“Do you want me to bring dinner for you from the mess?”
“Nah, I am fine”
I couldn’t really sleep. There were too many thoughts going through my head. I finally figured, I just can’t afford to die right now. I must live.

First thing in the morning I got ready and waited. I knew my seniors would do the morning rounds with professors at around 7.45Am. They would be back at the clinic around 8.45Am.
I walked to the hospital around 8Am. Most seniors were still doing the rounds. The OPD room empty and I waited outside. Time stood still. Just when you want the time to fly, it refused to move. I looked around. There were lots of patients waiting in front of each OPD. I could see the awe in their eyes. I was wearing my lab coat and they must have thought that I am doctor! By right I should be enjoying the attention that I was getting. But I was in no mood. In a couple of hours I would know my expiry date.

I felt so lonely standing there in the midst of all those patients and nurses. I wished Amma was here. I missed my mother’s presence. Why am I always alone like this?
I heard someone talking and I saw few of the doctors coming down the steps.
I was so relieved to see the Dr. Shekar (Gynae HOD) walking towards me. Most of the seniors were talking to him and discussing as he walked towards the OPD.
“yes” Dr Shekar looked at me and asked as he was about to enter the OPD
I was just about to ask for an appointment when I heard someone speaking in Malayalam. I turned to look and was stunned to see Jomon in the crowd.
“Good morning Sir.” I nodded and ignored the HOD. There was no way I was going to let Jomon examine me.
“Why are you here?” One of the senior girl asked me
“Nah nothing, I am just waiting for Anitha. She went to get some medicine from the pharmacy”
“Oh ok”
I quickly walked out, before Jomon had a chance to talk to me. I knew I have to find a doctor outside my hospital. I had no intention of becoming a guinea pig for my seniors.

How will I find a gynaecologist? I can always ask Shylaja for assistance. But then I will have to answer all her queries. I looked at my watch. It was almost 9 Am. I had two choices, I can go and attend my class or go to the canteen and have a nice cup of tea. I looked at the car park to see if Princy has come in the morning. His car wasn’t there and I walked to the canteen confidently.
As soon as I walked in I heard someone calling my name
I looked around. Arjun and few of my classmates were standing near the window and smoking
“You too bunked the classes?” Arjun asked
“hmm” I nodded my head ” Arjun, I finished reading all the books you got for me last week, Are you going home this evening?”
“so fast? How can you read so many books so fast?”
“Don’t know. I guess I read fast”
Arjun threw the cigarette butt outside and came and sat in front of me
“Nina, how do you do this? You skip all the classes and you still get better marks than any of us”
“Don’t know” I shrugged my shoulder. I didn’t think he would understand that although I skip most of the classes, I do study when I am in the hostel.
“What do you want to drink?” he asked
Arjun lifted his right hand and called the operator
“Boss, 1 by 2 tea please”*
conjuced marwadi!! (stingy fellow). I thought. He can’t even spend 2 Rs for a tea. He wants to buy a single tea and divide it in to two!
“Do you want eat some sweets?” he asked
He is already so stingy buying tea, so I didn’t want him to buy me sweets
“No” I shook my head
“have some sweets. This is my treat” I watched Arjun getting up from the chair and walking towards the groups of students standing near the window and smoking. He came back with a box of sweets
“My sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl last week. I am officially an uncle now” He passed the sweet box to me.
I looked inside the box. It only had few crumbs of kaju katlii(cashew sweet) inside. I picked a small piece and ate.
“Which hospital did your sister go?”
“Oh there is a maternity hospital near my home”
“Good doctor?”
“yes the best”
“Can you give me the address?”
“I need to see a doctor”
“Aiyyah, it is all personal! How can you ask a girl, why she wants to see a doctor?”
“Do you know how many sisters I have?”
I shook my head and said “No”
“Five! panch, aithu” he was grinning. “If there is one thing I know after living with the five of them is the personal things. Before they get their periods, they cry, after they get their periods they are devils, Oh women.. Why God almighty had to create women?”
“So there would be procreation!!” I responded
“He should have made us like oysters”
“Don’t you know?”
I shook my head again
“Oysters can change their sex according to the water temperature”
he nodded his head.
“Nina, I am going home this evening, if you need to see a doctor, I will take you”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course. it isn’t a big deal. “
“What time are you leaving?
“Around 5 pm”
“Would the doctor see me at that time?”
“Nah, you will be able to see her in the morning. My sister knows her personally. So I can ask her to make an appointment for you”
“But Where will I stay?”
“You can stay at my house. You will like my sisters”
“nah, that isn’t right. I can’t do that”
“Oh Nina, don’t worry. My parents are very liberal. In fact Rajalakshmi stayed at my house last time for a week”
“Who,the one from Sri Lanka?”
“Yeah. After the exams she was supposed to go home. She didn’t get the ticket from Madras to Colombo, so she stayed at my house till she got the ticket”
“Are you sure your parents won’t mind?”
“do you want my house number? You can talk to my sisters!”
“nah. it is ok”
There was only one hassle. I had to get permission to leave the hostel. Normally I should get a letter from the Princy and give it to the warden. Princy wasn’t in the campus.
“I will see you at five pm” I spoke to Arjun and walked out. I knew what I would do
I walked to the warden’s office and knocked the door
“Good morning madam” I greeted her cheerfully
“Yes” She was staring at me. (We had a mutual hatred for each other).
“Today is my uncle’s daughter’s birthday. I completely forgot about it. I have to attend the party this evening”
“Go and get the letter from the princy”
“I did madam. But he isn’t in the office. his peon said that he wouldn’t be coming to the college today”
“that isn’t my problem. Rules are rules. You have to follow them”
“I know. I am sorry I forgot to get the permission in advance. It is alright madam. When my uncle calls the Princy and ask him why I wasn’t allowed to go, you can explain to him” I turned to walk.. hoping against hope that she would fall for my trick.
“Wait” She called out
“What time are you leaving?”
“Party is at 6, so I only have to leave around 5”
“What time will you be back?”
“I don’t know madam. should I come back in the night itself or Do you think I should come back in the morning? I can always ask my uncle’s security to drop me off as soon as the party is over. I guess I should be back around 10.30”
“No, you can’t do that. I am not allowed to open the hostel gate after 9 pm.”
“In that case, I will spend the night at my uncle’s house and come back to the hostel first thing in the morning”
“ok”. She signed the permission slip that I have to give at the security office near the main gate.

In the evening I was packing my bag when Aparna walked in
“Where are you going?”
“to the town”
“I have some work to do”
“Did you get the permission?”
“What time will you be back?”
“Tomorrow morning”
Aparna was looking at me, hoping I would divulge some information. She didn’t need to know anything and I wasn’t going to tell her.

Thou shall not criticize

Did I really meant what I wrote in the title? Yes I do.

Many of you don’t realize that I am alive and I lived through everything that I wrote in my blog.

All through my childhood, all through the days at the medical college, I so very badly wanted tell someone my story. I wanted someone to believe me. I wanted someone to hold my hand and tell me it is ok, I am there for you.
It was impossible. Because there was no one I knew whose mother was having an affair with her (cousin) brother, whose father had another wife, whose sister was living in the same city, yet nobody knew where she was.

This was something that was real only in my world.

But what is even more worst was that, if I did tell someone about my family, then they would start judging my father, my mother and my oldest sister. I couldn’t let that happen. They are my blood and I love them. Situations and circumstances make people do things that are not the norm. I am the only one who knows the whole situation and I don’t judge my family. I couldn’t bear the fact that someone would tell that my father is bad man or my mother is a bad woman or my sisters are bad. I love my family,but unfortunately my love for them didn’t take the pain in my heart away.
It was eating away my soul day after day. There was only one question in my head, Why me? Why was I the chosen one? What did I do wrong? I have never hurt another person and then Why am I the only one getting hurt?

3 years ago, I took my kids for a holiday in Bukit Tinggi near Genting Highlands, Malaysia. The room next to ours was occupied by a Malaysian Chinese family with three kids, dad, mom, grand dad and grand mom.Each morning the grandmother would bring the kids out in to the balcony and show them the wild birds that came to eat the berries near our cabin. My oldest daughter asked me, Why Mama, why don’t I have a grandmother? Why doesn’t my Ammachi spend time with us?
At that moment I told her a twisted truth that because her grandmother lives in NZ, and because the air ticket is very expensive, it is not possible for her Ammachi to spend time with her, even though Yaya and her siblings are the best thing ever happend to her Ammachi.
I felt guilty for lying to my own child and I knew one day I need to tell her the truth. We stayed in Bukit Tinggi for 1 week and each night while my children slept, I wrote my story.
I am someone who didn’t really enjoy writing, until then the only thing I ever wrote was my 20,000 words dissertation for my master’s
degree and it took 6 months!!.
Although I cried each night while I typed, I also felt a sense of peace that I never felt before.. I felt finally I could tell someone what I went through. Kind of opening the pandoras box, knowing very well that it might bring more heartaches later.
The total word count for my story was 26000 words! and I wrote that in 6 days.
When I came back to KL, I printed the story and placed it in an envelope and Yaya and I went to our bank and kept it in the locker. I told Yaya, she can open the envelope the day she turns 18 and it would answer a lot of her questions.

Then came the move to Canada and I started to blog. Mostly to annoy the Malaysian government, because I knew they( government) can’t arrest me and jail me using Internal security act.(ISA). Even my blog name Malaysian In Canada was chosen purposely, just to let the Malaysian government know that, I am a Malaysian and I live in Canada.. A childish way of saying “neh neh neh boo boo You can’t catch me!!!”

Then one day I blogged about my grandmother. My kids never got a chance to see my grandmother and I thought I should write about my childhood. I wanted them to understand a little bit about being a malayalee. It was hard for the kids, especially because I never taught them to speak Malayalam. For them Vishu and Onam was all about getting Ang pao( kaineettam, money) from their mother. I felt may be one day they would read my story and can understand what it is like to be a Malayalee.
When I started to blog, I never ever dreamed that anyone would want to read my blog. All I wanted to do was to capture the magic of my childhood, but unfortunately in my case the magic and heartaches were inseparable.
The heartaches, that most people refused to believe, understand or even comprehend was/is very much part of my life.

Before you criticise, you got to remember that I am very much alive and that your criticism will not change the story, but it does affect me, because I go back to asking the same questions that I have asked all my life, Why me?

The only way I can write is by knowing that someone out there believe me.
My blog isn’t a place for affirmation or criticism. It is a place for me to tell my side of the story. If you don’t want to believe my story, please leave. This isn’t a Hotel California, where you can Check in anytime, but you can never leave.
I need to write, so I can find some sanity. But I don’t have the strength to convince you anymore that this is my real story. Actually there is nothing more that I can do to convince you that this is real.

I have been asked many times about my identity. The only reason I don’t want to reveal my identity is because of my sisters. Sally is right now at the pinnacle of success. Where she is now is because of her hard work and determination. Any scandal can affect her career and as her sister, I won’t let that happen. So those of you who know me, especially my classmates from the medical college, please respect my need to be just Sarah.
I love my family and I wouldn’t want to hurt them in anyway.

I noticed that my profile view has hit 20000!
Thank you all for reading my blog.
Update:just found this link
Bukit Tinggi.. my favourite place on earth.