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”

8 thoughts on “Christmas 1989

  1. Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for dropping by my food blog. I have been snooping on your blogs for a bit and I must say, your stories are very interesting and not to mention heartbreaking at the same time.

    Kudos on the story telling capability, Sarah.

    I’m a Malaysian in Canada too but I’m Montreal 🙂 It’s good to know another Malaysian in Canada dropped by my blog Heeee 🙂

  2. WOW! is all I can say.. started reading ur story a couple of days ago and I am totally addicted!! I sat up till 3 am last nite reading ur story.. Kudos to you for ur courage,your kind heart and your confidence!! Keep writing..

  3. The expedited writer: Selamat Datang..
    Wish u stayed somewhere close.. at least i could have spoken some malay..eaten some nice roti canai, kway teow goreng..the list goes on…

    Ramya:Thank you..

    Funny girl: 9 months of womb rental=life long debt and obligation

    Paresh: Thank you

    nahid: Thank you

    Geets: When I started to write about beautiful eyes, the images of all the funny guys in Cantonese moovies came to my mind.. you know the ones with names like, fatty, one leg long etc..when I read your comment.. I felt relieved..

    Sujit: Aha..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *