I walked to my room and sat on my bed. I read the letter again.
What do I do? I certainly couldn’t go to my mother and tell her that George is out to destroy me. There was no way she would open her eyes and see the truth. I couldn’t go to Maria because I didn’t know where she was staying and in my heart I knew there was no way Maria would accept that George is not God!.
My dad? What would he do if I tell him that his wife’s lover is threatening me? I couldn’t go to my father and tell him the truth about Amma and George. The whole thing has been woven with lies and deceptions. I had two younger sisters to think about. I didn’t want Appa to abandon them. Besides, I knew there was nothing my dad could do, but there were lots of things George could do. He could contact the embassy and give trouble to my dad.
Police? Can I lodge a complaint against George? I laughed thinking about how stupid that sounded.Because there would never be a police officer courageous enough to accept a complaint against George!
My college principal? I could always go and show the letter to my Princy. But He and George are drinking buddies! If I tell him that his drinking buddy, the most revered George is threatening me, I in all likelihood will find myself as a permanent resident of NIMHANS.
As I progressively eliminated each person that I could ask for help, I realized there was just one person still standing. That was me.
The tiny Nina against the mighty George. In the battle of David and Goliath, at least the David had stones. I had nothing. I had no weapons, no special skills and no one who would believe me.
Most importantly, I had no reason to live. As a child, I lived for tomorrow. Hoping the tomorrow would bring my dad home, or the tomorrow my parents would stop fighting and we will live together as a family. I lived for the happy tomorrow. I refused to let the sadness of the present to affect me, because the bright and beautiful tomorrow was beckoning me always. But who was I kidding? What bright future do I have?
I could run from my family, but could I hide any of the ugliness that surrounds me? Incest is like a gangrene. The smell gets you even after you wrap it with tons of bandage!
What would I tell when anyone ask me, why my oldest sister is living with my uncle? What reason would I give if anyone asks me Why my mother never bothers to fight for my sister?
Then I remembered Cho-Cho-San( Madame Butterfly by John Luther Long)
To die with honour
When one can no longer live with Honour.
All though everyone in my family was surrendering their honour, I haven’t yet done so!. I felt I should rather die than surrender my honour. I got up from my bed. I had to find a way to end this. To end this stupid life.
Cutting my wrist wasn’t going to work. Even Cho-Cho-San wasn’t successful when she tried to commit Jigai( harakiri by woman). I had to find something else. Then I remembered Valium!
I had to get Valium and there was no way I could buy it from the Pharmacy without a prescription. I was thinking of ways to get some valium when I heard someone knocking my room door.
I couldn’t breath. My heart was beating fast. I looked around my room and realized sadly that I am trapped. There was no way I could break the window grills and run to safety. George must have known that I am staying in the hostel alone!
I heard the knock again. I should have pulled the table near the door and used it to prevent someone from breaking my door and entering my room. Why was I so stupid? Desperately I tried pushing the table towards the door. It was too heavy.
“Ninamma, open the door. It is me Gangamma”
Gangamma? Is Goerge using Gangamma? Has he got a gun pointed at her head? What am I going to do?
“Ninamma open the door” Gangamma shouted again. This time her voice sounded more panicky and I could hear her calling out to the other cleaning ladies and asking them to call the security.
I quickly opened the door. I didn’t want the security to know that I am staying in the hostel.
“Why Ninamma, are you ok? How many times I knocked at your door? You got me worried! I was going to call the security”
“No Gangamma, I am fine. How did you know that I am staying here?”
“Gangamma has eyes Ninamma.”
“Oh” I looked at her.
Gangamma pointed her hands on all the doors. They all had a shiny lock outside. Mine didn’t! I wondered how could I be so stupid? The mighty intelligent Nina thought about everything except the lock!
“Here” Gangamma placed a paper wrapped parcel in my hand
“What is this Gangamma?”
“Lunch Ninamma. I made lunch for you”
“Why Gangamma, You didn’t have to do this. I have food in the room”
“never mind Ninamma. Go and eat now. Evening Siddamma will bring dinner for you”
“Why Gangamma? Why are you doing this for me?”
“You have a good heart Ninamma. You paid money when Siddamma had a baby, Didn’t you? Nobody in this hostel bothered to pay money or did anything. Only you did it, because you have a good heart. I know who has a good heart. Don’t worry Ninamma. Everything will be alright”
“Hmm” I mumbled.
As I ate rice and dal Gangamma packed, I tried to think of the odds that George would do anything? He send the anonymous letter on the eve of my exam to make sure that I failed the exams. What would be his next plan? I knew he would wait till the results are out. I had about three weeks. Three weeks to buy enough Valium to kill me.
By the third week of February most of the students were back in the hostel. No one talked to me. I suddenly became the wall. Physically I was there. That was it.
They say silence is beautiful, but when you are silenced by the silence, it is horrifying. I watched silently as each group spend the time together. I was not welcomed in any group.
I was laying down on my bed and reading when Shailaja came. As soon as she entered our room, Anitha pushed the door open and entered.
“Hey Shailaja, did you bring any Carrot Halwa?”
Shailaja’s mother makes the best Carrot Halwa and each time she comes back after a long holiday, she would bring a dubba of carrot halwa.
“Oh yes” Shailaja was smiling. She took the dubba from her bag and opened it and gave it to Anitha. I watched Anitha taking a spoonful of carrot halwa and eating”hmm, yummy, your mother makes the best carrot halwa”
“Do you want some?” Shailaja asked Aparna and Aparna nodded her head.
She too took a spoonful and ate.
Nobody asked the ‘wall’, if she would like to eat a tiny bit of that carrot halwa. Walls don’t have feelings, walls are not supposed to have any feelings right?
Wrong. At that moment I was fuming. If it wasn’t for that bloody George and my mother, I wouldn’t be suffering like this!
Results were to be out on the 26th of February. There were poojas and special prayers in the morning at the hostel. I wasn’t part of any group and I didn’t really think it is nice to hassle or bribe God when I didn’t write my exam well.
I got up in the morning with a heavy heart. By right I should be starting my clinical posting. I should be wearing my steth around my neck and enjoying rounds with my classmates!
George and my mother ruined it for me. I regretted being born as my mother’s daughter.
I knew there is no way I would pass the exam. First of all Anatomy was my enemy and I didn’t study anything the night before my exam. With a heavy heart I got dressed and walked to the mess hall. I saw Gangamma standing near the hostel entrance
“Come here Ninamma” She called me as soon as she saw me
“What is it Gangamma?”
“Shhh! I went to the temple in the morning to pray for you. I offered a special pooja for you. Now eat the prasad”
I opened my mouth and Gangamma placed a bit of the prasad in my mouth. I wondered, why destiny plays such cruel joke on me? Why couldn’t I be born in Gangamma’s family? She cares for me, more than anyone has ever done.
“Go Ninamma, go get your results”
“Nah, Gangamma, I didn’t write my exam well”
“Go Ninamma, I am praying for you. Go get your results”
In the distance I could see Aparna shouting and jumping up and down. It was obvious that She has passed! I felt a tinge of jealousy.
“Go Ninamma” Gangamma was pushing my shoulder. I wanted to tell Gangamma off! What is her problem anyway? Why is she in a hurry to see my result? Didn’t I just tell her that I didn’t write the exam well?
Then I looked at the green leaf in her hand. She had brought the prasad for me. You have the audacity to be rude to a stranger, who treats you like a daughter Nina Thomas? I asked myself
There were so many students in front of the notice board. I couldn’t see the results.
“Nina, Congrats” I looked at the tall guy standing in front of me. I have never even spoken to him before. I remember him introducing on the first day of class that he is Ramesh from Bombay
“What?” I asked him
“I said Congrats”
“Your number is 4467 right?”
“hmm” I nodded
“it is on the list. You passed”
I didn’t trust the tall guy’s eye sight. I waited for most of the students to leave, so I can see the results properly.
Only 72 students passed the exam and I looked at the number 4467 was indeed there. I knew everyone would say that I passed the exam because of the influence of George!
No one would have believed that, it was George who wanted me to fail. But it didn’t matter. I couldn’t be bothered about what others think of me. As for me, I did it on my own and that is all that mattered. I, Nina Thomas, wrote the exam without even revising and still got 148 marks out of 250!. George just couldn’t beat me!