Beating George!

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?”
“Heart, Ninamma”
“What heart?”
“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”
“For what?”
“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!



What would you do, if you know your mother is going to Bangalore to see him again?
I am just so worried.

Some days I wake up feeling so much anger towards my mother. I wonder how anyone can be so stupid. I want to be able to go inside her head and churn her brain, hoping I can cure her blindness..
Then I think, it can’t be possible, my mother can’t be that stupid. She has seen what George has done/doing to her daughters. She can’t be blind.
I am mother of two daughters and a son. If anyone as much as tried to harm my children, I know I will kill them. If I feel that way, then why not my mother? Why is she pretending to be blind?
What troubles me the most is much as I try, nothing makes sense to me. Can a mother sell her children? Can a mother be manipulated so much as to not see what she is doing?
Then there is people like Tinkerbells, who worry about my mother and her feelings. When educated people like Tinkerbells, think that I am hallucinating, then I start to wonder, Am I crazy?
Is it wrong that a part of me absolutely hate my mother?
Then I think, my mother had gone through a difficult life. She is already 71. How many more years, is she going to live? She deserves happiness. After she is gone, I don’t want to live the rest of my life thinking that I didn’t try hard enough to make our relationship work. She is my children’s grandmother. So there is a part of me that loves her too.

Where should I stand?
I am a daughter. I only have one mother. She gave birth to me. She raised me. She also sold me and She still cares for the man who hurt me.


As I walked out of my hostel room, I suddenly remembered Amma talking once about how influential George is!
She told me that onceGeorge send the car to his daughter’s medical college and got the external examiner to come and meet him. He apprently ordered the external examiner to give his daughter 100% marks, so she would get the rank!
If he could get the external examiner to give more marks to his daughter, then he could make me fail to. I had to do something.
If I was George, what would I do? Think Nina, think quick, I started to panic.
I would probably tell the examiner, the girl’s name, how she looks like, she wears spectacles, short hair etc
I ran back to my room and quickly opened my door. I took my glasses off, my hair was still short. I combed my hair back and wore Aparna’s hair band. I checked my reflection in the mirror. I looked funny, but looking funny was a lot better than failing the viva.
I had three external examiners and as I entered the room 1, the examiner asked me
“Shilpa” I replied.I knew there is no way he could cross check my name. All students are given registration numbers to prevent any hanky panky.
“Where are you from?”
“Madras Sir”
“Oh, you speak Tamil?”
“Yes Sir” For the first time in my life, I was really grateful for learning to speak Tamil.
I stuck to Shilpa from Madras with the other 2 examiners too.
My practicals got over by around 3.30 pm and I was walking back to the hostel. From far away itself I noticed someone standing near my hostel entrance wearing a very familiar green colour saree. I didn’t have my glasses on and I told myself there was no chance it would be my darling mother. Why would she come to my hostel on the last day of my exam?
Then I saw the lady walking towards me. There was no mistake. It was my mother.
“How was your exam Nina?”
“Why are you here mother?”
“I came to see you. Why? I can’t come and see my daughter?”
I saw George coming out of the hostel entrance laughing and talking to the warden.
I couldn’t even walk. I stood there motionless. Few days ago, I promised myself that I would kill him, if I ever saw him again. And now when he is right in front of me, I couldn’t even take a step forward.
Some where at the back of my head I could hear a voice that spoke
“Nina, criminals often revisit the site of crime. He is here to see what damage he has inflicted on you. Don’t let him have that satisfaction!”
I started walking quickly to my room. I passed him and the warden on the way and I knew George was looking at me and I didn’t give a damn.
I could hear Amma’s foot steps right behind me
I opened my room door and tried to shut it quickly before Amma can enter. But she placed her hand on the door frame and I didn’t have the heart to smash the door on her hand and hurt her
“What is wrong with you Nina?” Amma pushed the door to come inside. I quickly stood in front of Amma and blocked the entrance of my room.
George was just a few feet away.
“I am sorry, we are not allowed to have male visitors in our room” I spoke to George. I had to try pretty hard to make sure that my voice didn’t quiver.

George was suddenly taken back. I guess his master planning for the events of the day didn’t include a very strong Nina Thomas. I could feel the chink in George’s armour and I stood in front of my door, staring at him. There was a moment of silence. Amma was trying to push me, so George can enter my room

“Don’t bother darling, I will wait for you in the car” George spoke to Amma
“No, she needs to learn a lesson. This isn’t how you treat family” Amma was rambling and I didn’t give a damn either.
I watched George leaving with a satisfaction I never felt before.
Amma was screaming and shouting and I walked to my desk and opened the drawer. I picked up the letter and shoved it on her face
“What is this Nina?”
“I said read” I yelled
She snatched the paper from my hand and started to read
“Who send this?” She asked
“Can’t you guess?”
“Your Marwari boyfriend?”
“Oh Mother, please, why would he want to send such a letter? Your darling send this”
“Are you mad Nina? Why would Acha send a letter like this? What is he going to gain by sending a letter like this? Besides how does he know about Dr. D.G’s clinic?”
“Oh mother, your memory is failing you. How can you forget telling him that I went to Dr. DG’s clinic? Did you not get chechy to give the doctor’s letter to him to verify the truth?”
“You are a liar Nina. There is no way Acha would do such a thing!”
I couldn’t control my anger any more. I was just so hopping mad. My mother chose to trust her lover than her daughter. My mother didn’t even bother to understand what I went through the last few weeks. She had the audacity to call me a liar?
“Get out of my room”
“I said get out of my room”
“Why should I? I have come to pick you up!”
“I am not coming home, mother”
“Where are you going?”
“I am going to Madras” That was the first place that came out from my mouth
“Really? Who do you have there?”
“Why do you care?”
“With whom are you staying Nina?”
“I am not telling you mother. I want you to leave my room now”
“I am sorry Nina, I am not going to let you ruin your life. I have a right to know where you are going?”
“I am sorry mother, you no longer have any rights once I turned 18. If you don’t believe me, Why don’t you go and ask your darling George?”
I didn’t realize my mother was so stupid. She just walked out of my room saying she is going to talk to Acha. I slammed the door shut. I half expectd Amma to break the door open and come inside. I counted to a 100, nothing happend. I opened my window to see what Amma was up to. I could see Amma and George talking and I was so stunned to see the two of them holding hands and walking towards the canteen. If anyone saw them, they would think they are husband and wife, not brother and sister. I felt sick seeing the two of them holding their hands. I wished I had a gun, so I could just kill both of them.

I knew I had to leave the hostel, but I had no place to go to. My hostel mess will be closed for 2 weeks. Where am I going to go? I could continue to stay in my room. But there won’t be any food. I only have a toaster! I also couldn’t let George know that I am staying alone in the hostel.
I knew what I am going to do. I took my bag, locked my room and walked out. There was no sign of George or my mother. I signed the register at the guard house writing my name, my room number and the time of departure.
There was no auto at the auto stand and I waited for the next available auto. I was busy planning the things I have to do when I heard someone asking
“Is this where I have to wait to get an autorickshaw?”
I looked at the guy. He looked like a foreigner, tall with curly hair.
I didn’t enjoy talking to a stranger let alone a foreigner, so I just nodded my head to say ‘yes’
“Are you a medical student?” he asked again
I nodded my head again, thinking why is that, just when you are desperate to get an auto, you wouldn’t find one?
“I am doing Engineering in Warangal. I came to see my friend. We schooled together in South Africa. He got admission to do medicine and I got admission to do engineering.. Do you know him? His name is Naidu!”
I nodded my head again
“Are you scared of me?”
“You haven’t said a word? You just keep nodding your head. Is it because I am black?”
I looked at him again. He didn’t look black to me.
“I am not black. I am an Indian. I was born in South Africa. That is why this curly hair” He pointed to the curly hair on his head.
“Goodness No, I am not afraid of you. It is just that I am weary of strangers”
“Did you get to meet your friend?” I felt it is only right that I say something to him.
“No, apparently he has gone to visit his cousin in Delhi. I wasted a trip”
“hmm” I mumbled. I didn’t want to nod my head and offend him again
“My name is Jonathan”
“That is a nice name. I am Nina”
“Where are you from?”
“Oh, the land of coconut oil and banana chips”
“yes indeed”
Finally one auto came
“Where to?” The driver asked
“Railway station” I replied
“Can I come with you in the auto? You can drop me off at the main road. At least it will be easier to get an auto” Jonathan spoke
“Sure” I replied
Jonathan got off near the main road.

At the railway station, I got off, walked to the ticket counter, bought a platform ticket and went inside.
So far so good. Even if anyone finds the auto driver and question him, he would tell for sure that he dropped me at the railway station.
I waited a while in the platform, then covered my head with my duppatta and walked out of the railway station. I checked my watch. It was already 5 pm and I knew British Library closed at 6.30. I took another auto and went to the library to get books on Criminal psychology. I got the books and now I needed food. I took an auto and went to Nilgiris to buy bread, jam, banana and milk powder.
Around 7.30, I took an auto to go back to the hostel. But this time I didn’t use the main entrance. I got off near our hospital and like many students have done before me, I sneaked in through the gap in the fence.
All the lights in the hostel were off, even the ones in the corridor and I felt scared walking in the darkness to my room. I opened the door slowly and went inside. I was afraid to switch on the light, lest someone see it from outside. I lit a candle and kept it on the floor. I had to read. It didn’t take me too long to learn that George is an Aggressive Sociopath.
He had all the characteristics of an aggressive sociopath. Dominance and control are his main features. He also has psychopathic characteristics like delusions of grandiose, Narcissism, promiscuous sexual behaviour and is a pathological liar.
More and more things were becoming clearer to me.
George didn’t have a good childhood. He was born in Ceylon and his parents moved to so many different countries, when he was young. I remembered him talking about how he was bullied at school and the story of the pigeon.
One day he found a pigeon lying on the floor as he walked home from school. He always wanted a pet and his mother refused to let him have one. So he took the pigeon home expecting his mother to scold him. His mother didn’t fight with him, instead allowed him to keep the bird. He came home for lunch from school the next day and his mother had made chicken fry. George ate the chicken and looked at the bone and asked his mother
“Why is the bone so small?”
When she didn’t reply, he ran to his room to find the pigeon gone.
When George told the story during dinner once, I didn’t really think of it much. I thought it was just a sad story of a child losing a pet!
But I now realized that stroy was not about just losing a pet, it was the story of the beginning of psychopath.
George has been punishing his parents as long as I could remember. The last brutal thing he did to them was by convincing them to sell their home and trasfer the money in to George’s account. He convinced his parents that he wanted to take care of them in their old age and it will be easier if they are in Bangalore. He brought them a house in Bangalore( in his name) and when they were all settled, he sold the house and send them packing to an old folks home in Kerala. His parents died as destitute.
I realized, He has been manipulating my mother from the beginning. He was the reason my grand parents hated my mother. He was the reason why his father and my grand father never spoke to each other. He was the reason why my mother’s family is completely messed up.
He was the reason for all the fights in my house. He was the one who kept telling Amma that she deserves a better man.
I realized he would have been the one who was sending all those anonymous letters about my father’s escapades to my mother.
He even convinced Amma that she resembles Padmini Kolhapure!( film actress) and my mother spend a fortune getting a Padmini hair style!
My stupid mother believes whatever he tells her.
It didn’t take too long to figure out that, He is destroying my mother’s life and Maria’s life. I knew he will destroy mine too. I didn’t know how I am going to escape.

Three days later, there was another anonymous letter for me. Typed in A4 size paper, envelope post marked in GPO Bangalore. My hands shook as I opened the letter
This time the letter said
“Do you think we don’t know about your negro boy friend? We know you went to Madras with him. Wait till we let all your friends know about your latest escapedes! Pack your bags Nina Thomas, you will soon be expelled from your college!”
I sat on the floor and cried. Because that was all I could do

AGGRESSIVE SOCIOPATHS derive strong, yet nonperverse gratification from harming others. They like to hurt, frighten, tyrannize, bully, and manipulate. They do it for a sense of power and control, and will often only drop subtle hints about what they are up to. They polish their aggressive, domineering manner in such a way to disguise any intimidation others might feel. They seek out positions of power, such as parent, teacher, bureaucrat, supervisor, or police officer. Their style is one of passive aggression as they systematically go about sabotaging the ideas of others to get their ideas in place. In their spare time, they like to hunt or occasionally do sadistic things like find stray dogs and cut them up. They are usually effective at getting their way, and are especially vindictive if resisted or crossed. They don’t follow the social norm of reciprocity like others do: Source.

17 years and 64 days!

My Sister, my own sister betrayed me! There is no betrayal more brutal than the those committed by one’s own family. How could Maria do this to me? How could my own mother do this to me? How many more times are they going to sell me like this? Not enough that I was deaf and dumb and blind, not enough that they sold me to that bastard, but now they are trying to sell my sanity? What have I done to suffer like this?
There was no one for me. There was no one to just hold my hand. There was no one to believe in me.

I looked at my hands. Which artery should I cut? My bed was on the left side of the room and I figured, my right hand would be better than my left hand. I could keep the bucket on the floor and let the blood drip in to it. In that way nobody will have to clean the room. I wouldn’t have to trouble anyone. How much blood do I have to lose before I would die? I wasn’t sure. I hoped death would come quickly. I waited and waited for Aparna to close her books and sleep.
Should I write a suicide note? Who do I address to?
My irresponsible stupid father, who thinks fatherhood is all about donating a sperm?
My stupid mother, who loves another man and still pretend to be a pious wife? Who refuse to see the evil that her lover is doing?
My stupid older sister, who has done everything possible to get rid of me?
Liza and Sally? No, not them, my baby sisters don’t have to carry the burden of my death on their shoulder. As it is, life will be tough on them without me around. I hoped they would have the courage to live and not be a quitter like me.
Then I thought about the man, the psycho my mother is in love with. I could hear him laughing and boasting to Amma that he never forgives his enemies. He always makes them pay and I knew now that he meant what he said.
My exam was postponed twice that year. He wanted maximum impact and he waited. Only he had the resources and the power to do such a thing. Every single person, including Gangamma the cleaner received a letter. Each was postmarked in GPO Bangalore. Each letter was typed and I knew even if I got it checked for finger prints, it would not reveal anything.
I didn’t have any strength to fight this psychopath. Who would believe that my own uncle is trying to destroy me? Who would believe that the same man is having an affair with my own mother?
There was no escape. Death was the only option.
I thought of all the famous people who committed suicide. I have Judas, Hitler and Eva Brown for company. Some how my choice of companions in hell didn’t really please me. Then I remembered Seneca, the man Emperor Nero ordered to commit political suicide. How Seneca tried to cut the veins on his arms and legs and how painful his last moments were. Then I remembered the story of the lamp. Isn’t my life like a lamp? When the lamp isn’t lit, does it mean that I no longer shine?( Seneca epistle 54)
Does it mean that the unlit lamp is useless? Why should I die, just because a Psychopath is out to destroy me?
I am going to live. I will teach that bastard a lesson. I closed my eyes and I could see my dad waving his pointed finger and yelling at my mother every time they fought.
“Ninte kuthu pala njan oorum” Those were the only swear words my dad knew and there by the only swear words I knew.
and I told myself
“George! Mark my words, one day ninte kuthu pala njan oorum”
I took the 2 valium tablets Sumi gave me and went back to sleep. I planned my vengeance. I knew George made 3 big mistakes
1. He didn’t realize that unlike my mother or my older sister, I have my grandmother’s resilience.
2. He didn’t realize that I never forget
3. He forgot that Time is on my side
One day George, One day I will make you pay. I promised myself.

Sumi woke me up about 7 in the morning.
“Here Nina, drink some coffee. I got your pens and pencils organized already. Your hall ticket is in the pencil case”
I had not read a single sentence since 12 noon yesterday. What am I going to write? besides, Anatomy is my worst enemy.
“Sumi, I can’t. I can’t remember anything I studied”
“Nina, there is no point sitting in the room. if you fail, let it be because you tried writing your exam, not because you were afraid to write”
“I can’t Sumi”
“You can Nina, you will remember what you studied. Trust me”
Everyone was busy revising. I took my Anatomy text book. My hands were shivering and I just couldn’t read my text book.
I got out of my room to wash my face. I could see the disgust on my classmates face. I felt like screaming and telling them
I never ever slept with any of the professors and I would never have an abortion. But who would listen? In a country where a man can kill his wife if she doesn’t bleed on the first night, virginity and chastity are all part of the standards you are judged with. Prostitutes are not virgins! They are not fit to be in the company of girls from aristrocratic families.
When I came back to my room, Aparna and Shylaja was about to leave for the exam.
“Can you wait a few seconds. I will quickly change my clothes”
Aparna looked at Shylaja
“Sorry Nina, I have to meet Jacob”
It was pretty clear that they didn’t even want me to walk with them. I suddenly became the pariah. The untouchable!
I walked alone to the exam hall. Everyone was looking at me. The door of the exam hall was closed and all the students were crowding in the corridor. I heard one of the Tamilian boy speaking in Tamil
“See, I told you, look at her, she is cool, Does it look like the letter has affected her? Macha, how else can she pass the exams? haven’t you seen how she flirts with the professors? My God, Thick skin she has eh?”
I hoped the earth would open up and swallow me. I wanted to walk back to the hostel. But then George would win this round.
I wrote the exam. To this day, I do not know what I wrote in my answer sheet.
As I walked back to the hostel after the exam, Jomon was standing near the canteen. The moment he saw he, he started to walk towards me and I quickened my pace. I didn’t want to speak to him
“Wait” he screamed. Everyone heard him screaming and was looking at both of us. I had no choice but to stop in my tracks.
He looked at me and spoke
nee ethrem pezha anannu njan arinjilla( you are worst than a slut). mindapoocha kalam odakkumannu moothoru parayum. Thank God, I learned about your true colour. I don’t want to marry you Nina. I want to marry a virgin, not someone’s left over!”
I didn’t bother to respond. Somehow at that point I wished I had used all the opportunities I had earlier to tell Jomon that I don’t want to marry him. I didn’t want to hurt him and now he has the satisfaction of knowing that he rubbed salt in to my wounds. I walked back to my hostel cursing my own karma.

Alienation by friends was the most difficult punishment I had to endure. Aparna was in the first batch that had practicals and when she came back after the Viva, I asked her
“What questions did they ask you during the viva?”
“Oh! The usual things ” She just walked off the room. Out side the door I could hear her telling Shylaja all the questions she was asked. It hurt so much, but there was nothing I could do.

I was in the last batch to have the Physiology practicals. Aparna had already finished both the practicals and gone home. I was getting ready in the morning when I heard someone shouting my name and saying
“Nina, phone for you”
I didn’t know if I should take the call or ignore it.
“Nina phone for you. It is an urgent call” I heard someone shouting again
Urgent call? Has something happened to my baby sisters? Is Liza ok?
I ran up the steps to the phone room and picked up the receiver and said
There was silence on the other side. must be a long distance call and may be the connection isn’t good. Then I heard someone breathing deeply
“Hello” I said again
“Suck my.@#&*”
“I said suck my @##*”, I know you are a slut, or you only service the professors?”
I dropped the receiver down. I didn’t even bother to put it back on the cradle. As I walked out of the phone room, I looked outside. I was on the 2 nd floor. I just had to jump. I held on to the railings. I could see some of the students who have already finished their exams leaving, carrying a heavy bag. I had no home to go to, no mother to run to, no father to protect me and no sisters to stand by me. But I wasn’t ready to give up on my life. I wanted to fight till my last breath.


Anatomy part 2 exam was on Tuesday and I was doing frantic last minute revision.
Shylaja was writing the part 1 Anatomy today and Aparna was with the Tamilian students. I was glad that nobody was in my room. At least I could study peacefully.
I looked at the clock. It was almost 11 Am. I only had 21 hours more! and I had so much to study. I looked at the previous years question papers. I tried to answer the questions and calculated my total marks. I only got 38! There was no way I would pass the exams!
I cursed myself for wasting my time. I should have kept the dream weaving away untill the exams are over. Now I will have to rewrite the exams 6 months later.
No. I told myself. I will not repeat the test. I must pass the exam. There was no way I want to study Anatomy again. I took my book and started to read again.
“Hey Nina, guess what? Princy just passed away” Anitha pushed my room door and shouted. I was laying down and studying anatomy. It took me a couple of seconds to understand exactly what Anitha was saying
“What?” I got up from my bed and asked Anitha
“Princy just passed away. I am serious” I looked at her face. She was smiling. Why does she smile after telling me such a terrible news? There is no way Bangalore university would postpone the exam because the principal of one medical college passed away, So why is she smiling.
Soon more students from the other rooms too started to come to my room after hearing Anitha screaming about Princy’s sudden death.
“What is going on?” I asked Anitha
“I was at the office getting my hall ticket. The father of one of the students came to the office to meet the Princy. Vice-princy was in the office and he saw Princy’s car passing by and he told the father of student
“Oh! Princy just passed away”
“Oh my goodness! then what happened?”
“The father left quickly, so the vice-princy won’t see him laughing and fail his son!”
“Did you hear what he told to Abhinav few months ago?” One of the girls asked
“What did he say?” All of us were eager to know
“Abhinav’s sister was getting married, so he wanted to take 5 days off. He went to the vice-princy to get his leave letter signed and the vice-princy asked him
“What man! I didn’t go for my own wedding and you want 5 days off for your sister’s wedding?”
Everyone started to laugh and soon everyone was in my room. Some were sitting on my bed, some were sitting on Aparna’s and Shylaja’s bed. I looked at the clock.Almost 12. Time was flying and I had so much to study.
“Hey guys, Did you know once Vice-princy saw some seniors walking in the campus at night and he told them
“Don’t circulate in the campus, go and rotate in the library” Another girl spoke
“No way. How can he say that?” someone else spoke
“He did, the same way he said certain diseases can be transmitted by animals like rats and mangoes”
“Mangoes?” Everyone asked
“Mongoose! He was reading from the text book and read mangoes instead of Mongoose!”
I was laughing so much that my tummy was hurting. It was nice to laugh. But I needed to study.
“Come on guys, Can we do this later? I need to study” I spoke
“Oh” Anitha wasn’t pleased
“Come on guys, let us go to my room” I knew from the facial expression of all the girls that they hated me. But I wanted to pass the exam. I didn’t have any time to waste.
Little while later, I heard the postman ringing his cycle bell. I was waiting for my father’s letter and draft. But I didn’t want to waste my time and go and get the letter from the postman. I can always pick up the letter later, when I go for lunch.
I could hear people talking and there were lot of din outside the corridor. Then I heard someone speaking my name. May be Appa send a registered mail?
I got up and opened my room door. Everyone was staring at me. I noticed that all the girls had an envelope in their hand. As soon as they saw me, everyone started to walk away. I saw Anitha standing near the hostel entrance holding a piece of white paper
“What is it Anitha?” I asked her
“Oh nothing Nina” She tried to hide the paper inside her text book. I walked up to her and snatched the book from her hand and took the piece of paper.
I read the title
Sexual escapades of Nina Thomas.
I felt my breath was getting stuck in my throat. My chest felt like it was exploding.
I read the letter
How many of you knew that Nina Thomas moonlights as a high class prostitute? How does she pass the exam, if she never attended any classes? She was sleeping with all her professors. In fact she even got pregnant and had an abortion at Dr. D.G’s nursing home.
I didn’t want to read anymore. I ran to my room. I couldn’t think. I had to get out. I took my bag and started to pack my clothes. Aparna and Shylaja came to the room. They didn’t say anything. They just watched me silently. I wished they would talk to me. I wished they would tell me that they believed in me. But I knew they didn’t. There was nothing I could do to convince them either. I saw my senior Sumi entering my room
“Where are you going Nina?” She asked
“Home” I spoke
“You are not going anywhere. You have an exam tomorrow.” She snatched my bag from my hand.
“Give me back my bag” I screamed
“Nina, you will not give up on your life, just because some idiot send a letter. Do you understand that”
I didn’t understand that. I was beginning to hyperventilate.
I could hear Sumi shouting to Aparna and asking her to run to the hospital and get Valium. I wanted to run. I wanted to escape. I didn’t want to live anymore. Me a prostitute? How can I live anymore if people think that I am a prostitute? Shylaja was standing near the door
“Move, let me go” I started to push and punch Shylaja.
I don’t remember what happened next.
When I woke up, Sumi was sitting next to me.
Why is she sitting on my bed? I looked at the clock. It was 7 pm. Oh my goodness. I have exams tomorrow. I got up quickly.
“How are you feeling Nina” Sumi asked
Why is she asking me questions like that? Oh my goodness, the letter,the letter that said I had an abortion and I passed the exams because I slept with my professors!
I started to cry.
“Nina, don’t cry. Relax. Please don’t cry.” Sumi spoke
I jumped out of the bed and ran towards the door. I tried to open the latch. I couldn’t open the door. My room was locked from outside. I was so mad at Sumi. I was about to scream at her when Sumi grabbed my hand.
“Please Nina,listen to me. If you run now, whoever send the letter would be laughing. Because they got what they want”
“Do you think I care? Open my door” I started to yell and bang the door
Sumi pushed me on to my bed
“Listen to me Nina Thomas. You are not a quitter. You will fight. You understand that”
I didn’t understand that. All I knew was my life was over. sooner or later Sumi would leave my room. Then I will cut my wrist. May be I will hang myself on the fan. I didn’t want to live anymore. I needed to buy time. I needed Sumi to know that everything is ok. I stopped crying. I heard someone knocking my door and sumi got up to stand near the door, so I won’t be able to run out. I could hear someone opening the lock from outside. Sumi was looking at me. Aparna walked inside holding a plate of rice and curry.
“Eat your food” Sumi ordered
“No, I don’t want”
“You will. You won’t have any strength to write the exam tomorrow”
I didn’t respond. Tomorrow my body will be ready for burial. I don’t need any strength to kill myself.
Sumi sat on my bed.
“Aparna give me your pillow” She ordered
Aparna placed the plate on the table and got her pillow and gave it to Sumi
“Lift your head” Sumi ordered
I didn’t want to fight with her, so I did. Sumi placed the pillow under my head and made me sit up.
“Open your mouth” She took the plate from the table and started to feed me.
My last meal was Rice and sambhar. I always loved Sambhar. How lucky I am today!
“enough” After eating couple of mouths of food I spoke
“Ok” Sumi kept the plate away
“Nina, do you want me to give you a valium injection or do you want to take a tablet?”
I didn’t want to be knocked out again. I needed to be awake so I can kill myself.
“I will take the tablets” I whispered
“here. i give you two tablets. Tell you what, you read your books and around 9.30 take the tablets. That will allow you time to revise and you can wake up with a clear head”
“Ok. Thanks Sumi”
“Nina, I have exams next week. I need to go and study. Promise me, you won’t do anything stupid”
“I promise. Thanks Sumi” I smiled
“You know Nina, you always have a smile”
I didn’t reply. I heard Sumi talking to Aparna and asking Aparna not to leave me alone in the room. I knew Aparna sleeps like a log. So I planned to wait for her to go to bed!
I didn’t even bother to read my books. Why should I waste my time reading, when I am going to kill myself in a short while?
I thought of the letter.
Who could have send it? There was only one person who knew I went to Dr.DG’s clinic. Only Arjun knew. My goodness, that bastard did this to me? How could he do this to me? I thought I was like a family to him.
then it occurred to me, I can prove that I didn’t have an abortion at Dr.DG”s clinic. The doctor’s note clearly mentioned that I need hormonal test for Menorrhagia. You can’t be pregnant and menorrhagic at the same time. I got up from my bed and ran to my desk. I opened the drawer to look for the Dr. DG’s report.
Then it all came to me.

To my sister. On your wedding day

To my Sister

Today is the big day and I am thinking about you. I wonder how you look? Did the gown fit? Were the flowers delivered on time? Would it rain today and wreck the ceremony? Aiyyah!! too much of worries..

Then I thought, may be I will write about you.

Most of my readers know that you were a pest!!!

I was four years old when you were born. Amma didn’t tell me that, she is going to have another baby. I remember going to the hospital with Tante to see you. I was shocked! Mostly because, Maria didn’t want you and I was given the charge to be the Big sister.
When Tante placed you on my lap, I was worried, if I could ever be a good sister. I wanted to be everything that Maria wasn’t! But the shoe was too big to fit me!

I must have failed you a lot of times!

But I do have a lot of sweet memories of growing up with you.
I remember how you taught me English Alphabets each evening, when you came back from school.
I remember all the hide and seek games we used to play.

Then you started to grow taller than me! Aiyyah, I felt so bad every time strangers thought you were my older sister!!( I promise, I won’t feel bad.. if anyone sees us together now and think that you are older than me!!)

Each time Amma butchered my hair, I used to envy your long wavy hair.

I also envied your ability to play all the sports, while I don’t even have the strength to lift a tennis racket..( Remember how much you laughed at me, when I said I joined the club, so I can learn to play tennis.. You are the reason Malaysia lost a world famous tennis player!)

You also drew all the diagrams for me( yeah I know I still owe you the money I promised then for each picture.. But I am sure I paid.. each time you brought your boyfriend home and you made me cook.. I know you were trying to impress your boyfriend.. You wanted the poor guy to think.. this is the food he would be getting once he marries you..So I will not tell him anything…if you stop talking about the money I still owe you)

I want you to know
No matter how we fought, We will always be sisters

No matter how we have fought, we will always be sisters.
Neither marriage nor distance nor children will change
The frictional fondness, part balm and part blisters,
No dawn can diminish nor passion make strange.

Like two trees with their wrestling roots underground,
Fighting for sun while restraining the wind,
By close and protracted proximity bound,
We’ve been shaped by a force that no fate can rescind.

And so it’s with undaunted pleasure that I
Bid farewell to a part of myself, for I know
That beyond the illusions of what, when, and why,
We’ll be together wherever we go

I found the above poem here.

So Mr.B. As you hold my sister’s hand and walk down that aisle.. I want you to know
My sister means the world to me. I may not call her, or even write to her. I also never send her any cards on her birthday. I argue with her about everything under the sky.
We may have our differences…we may not be the typical family. But at the end of the day, I love her to bits.
She will always be my sister and I expect you to take care of her!..
Please don’t make her cry.
Here is wishing both of you a very happy life together.
I love you both.

God’s wrath

Christmas is supposed to be a time to be merry. I wasn’t really in a mood to celebrate. I was in a mood to dream. I thought of my life in Nagaland. Being the wife of a Naga warrior. I wasn’t sure what exactly the role of a Naga wife would be. But honestly it didn’t really matter. I knew he is capable of taking care of me and that is all that mattered
I had tons to study. I also had tons of dreams to weave. I looked at all the text books on my bed. ( most of the medical students sleep with their books. Don’t ask why!) Should I get up and start to study?
Nah, today is Christmas, a day to celebrate, nobody studies on Christmas day! I pulled the blanket over my face.
Before I could even close my eyes, I heard someone pushing the door open. I didn’t have to guess, who it would be. I stayed still, hoping Anitha would notice that I am sound asleep and leave me alone.
“Hey Nina, Why are you not ready yet, the service will start in 10 minutes” She pulled the blanket off from my face
I had to pretend that I was asleep, so I did the best Oscar performance
“What, Where, What happened” I wiped my eyes and looked around
“What is it Anitha?”
“Are you not coming with us to the church?”
“For the Christmas service”
“No, I am not”
“No particular reason Anitha” I shrugged my shoulder
Anitha looked at the books on my bed
“Nina, Jesus will not forgive you, if you study on Christmas day without going to church first”
“Really? Why?”
“For heaven’s sake Nina, today is Christmas. You are supposed to go to Church and attend the mass”
I thought of asking her, would Jesus punish all the Christian doctors and nurses who are on duty today? But then again I knew, she would tell me that ‘They are working, you are lying down and sleeping. There is a big huge difference’
“Anitha, I am not going to church”
“Jomon is going to be pretty mad at you”
I pulled the blanket over my head again and waited for the sound of her foot steps leaving my room. It felt like eternity, then I heard her slamming my door shut.
I wondered, isn’t God supposed to be merciful and kind? Why then does his followers resort to fear of divine retribution? I didn’t have an answer. But if I was going to be punished for not attending the church, so be it.
I went back to weaving.
A beautiful wooden house on stills, kids running around, mama cooking food, papa reading newspaper. Then I remembered beautiful eyes telling me that his house is in the interior, So that would mean, they may not get news paper. Never mind, papa can read novels instead of newspaper, then I remembered, I need to start buying novels, there won’t be any library there. My dream weaving wasn’t going the way I wanted it to go. So I got up.
There was nothing much to do. I looked around my room. Aparna went to meet her boyfriend in the morning itself. She was already in to learning more about Christianity and reading the bible. Anitha was her religious teacher.
Shylaja had gone home. I thought of my home. Amma didn’t even bother to phone me or send me a Christmas card. Then I scolded myself , Whya re you always complaining. You also didn’t send her a card or phone her. I knocked my own stupid head.
I thought of my father, wished him a silent Merry Christmas. I didn’t feel happy or sad thinking about my father. He no longer existed in my life. He was far away in physical distance and emotional attachment. I wondered what he would do, when he learns about me and beautiful eyes. I could see him waving a parang(sickle) and shouting
“I will kill you. No daughter of mine is going to marry a non malayalee. This is all your mother’s fault. She didn’t raise you well” I didn’t know what he would say when I ask him
“Where were you Appa, when I was growing up? Where were you, when I needed you the most”
I knew he will have thousands of excuses.
Then I thought of Ammachi. I knew, there is no point in wishing her a Merry Christmas. because I knew she would be sitting on the parapet wall and waiting for me. I felt my chest tightening. I could see the tears falling down her cheeks. I wanted to ask her, Why Ammachi, Why did you not see the injustice Appa was doing to Amma? Your own mother in law treated you badly, Didn’t she? Then how could you treat my mother badly? Did you not know how much it would hurt my mother? How could you think that I will stand with you?
I was angry with Ammachi. I hated her.
Then I remembered the time my parents left me alone with Ammachi one Christmas. I still don’t know why they didn’t take me along with them. I remember crying not because Appa and Amma left me with Ammachi, but because we didn’t have any fire crackers. I cried and begged Ammachi to buy me some fire crackers. She didn’t bother. She told me
“I am not working like a mad cow for you to burn my money”
How much I hated her that day. I didn’t even bother to eat lunch. I spend the whole day sulking
In the evening after all the farm workers had gone home I heard Ammachi calling me
“Nina come here”
I was in the bedroom reading a book. I pretended I didn’t hear her
“Nina, come here” She yelled
I still didn’t bother. Then I heard something explode. I ran outside to see what was going on. Ammachi was standing on the steps holding a brass lamp. She bend down to get something from the floor and I saw her lighting it and throwing. It exploded in the mid air. Ammachi was lighting fire crackers*.
“Where did you get that?” I ran to her. She didn’t even bother to talk to me. She bend down to pick another one from the floor and I noticed there was only one more left
“Can I please light it Ammachi?”
She didn’t respond
“Please Ammachi”
“She was busy lighting the fire cracker.
“Please Ammachi, I am sorry Ammachi” I pleaded.
I watched Ammachi throwing the lit fire cracker and it exploding in the mid air. I really wanted to light the last one
“Please Ammachi, Can I please, please light the last one?” Ammachi looked at me.
“Will you ever show your anger by not eating your food?”
“No. I promise”
“Nina, food is god’s gift. Not everyone gets a chance to eat a meal every time. When you are given three meals in a day, you better be grateful. Don’t you dare show ungratefulness in my house. Do you understand that Nina Thomas?”
I nodded my head.
“here, light the fire cracker, make sure you throw it far away” She handed me the last fire cracker.

I wondered why my life is so complicated? I wondered if God will punish me for hurting my Ammachi. I walked out of my room. I had to do something.

I climbed up the stairs to the terrace. Some of the students were sitting on the steps and studying. They all wished me a Merry Christmas. If only they knew how heavy my heart felt.
I opened the door that leads to the terrace. It was a cold and foggy day and I couldn’t find a single cloud. I cursed my stupid luck. I closed my eyes. I could see Ammachi sitting on the parapet wall and I begged her for forgiveness. I told her about beautiful eyes. I told her that I found my pearl. The real one.

In the evening I was in my room reading a mills and boon novel. Anitha, Aparna and Shylaja were having a group study. I don’t like group study. I prefer to read alone.
I heard someone knocking the door.
“Nina can you get it?” Aparna asked
“sure” I got up and opened the door. Gangamma was standing in front of the door holding a steel plate. I looked at the plate. There was few yellow flowers, a small steel bowl with some water and some sweets
“What is it Gangamma?” I asked her in Kannada
” Ninamma, I went to the temple to pray for all of you, so all of you get gold medal for the exams. This is the prasad. Open your mouth”
I opened my mouth and she placed a small bit of the sweet in my mouth
“Thank you Gangamma”
“Belecome ma belecome( Welcome)”
I smiled. Should I correct her pronunciation? Then I thought, What the hell., what is wrong in saying belecome?
Gangamma walked in to my room, so she could give the prasad to my Aparna and the gang. Aparna and Shylaja ate the prasad. Anitha declined. I looked at Anitha. She was staring at me. As soon as Gangamma left the room Anitha got up
“Nina, Can I talk to you for a second?”
“Come to my room” She ordered
She looked pretty serious, so even though I wanted to ask her why can’t we talk in my room, I didn’t. I followed her to her room
Anitha closed the room door and yelled
“Why did you eat the Prasad?”
“Do you know what is the first commandment?” She was screaming
I looked at the screaming malayalee standing in front of me, while trying to figure out what was going on
“You don’t know?” She was now mocking me
“Of course I know” I felt indignant
“then tell me”
“I am the lord your God, worship no other God but me”
“If you knew that, then why did you eat the prasad?”
“I didn’t worship any other god” I replied. I thought of telling her, I don’t worship Christ either. But I was afraid to face her religious wrath.
“Prasad is an offering from the temple. We are Christians. We believe in the living god. Not a stone”
“Of course. All the idols are made of stone”
“No they are not” I spoke
“what do you mean?”
“Idols are also made from metals” I smiled
“Stop kidding Nina. This is not a joke. God will not forgive you”
I didn’t bother to respond. That was the third act of god and forgiveness for the day. I had enough. I opened the door, just as I was about to leave the room I spoke
“By the way Anitha, Do you know what the oldest religion is?”
“sorry It isn’t. Hinduism is the oldest religion”
“No way. That is wrong”
I didn’t bother to reply.

*Ammachi bought 5 individual pieces of malapadakkam for 1 Rs. She saved one padakkam( hid it somewhere in the house before she called me).. so I can light it on new years day!! Smart Ammachi alley?

Head hunter

I had to wear something nice for the party. I certainly didn’t want to look out of place. I opened my cupboard to see what I could wear. I only had a few cotton sarees. Amma gave all the expensive sarees that my father had bought for her over the years to Maria, when Maria got admission to do engineering. I didn’t mind then, because I was still young and owning a beautiful saree wasn’t a priority. But now, when I desperately needed a beautiful saree, Amma won’t buy me one. Why? I never knew the answer. It was always the case of Maria having friends from upper class and tying to fit in with the crowd.

I didn’t have any jewelleries either. All of Amma’s wedding jewellery had been handed over to Maria, because she is the oldest. I didn’t want any of Amma’s bangles or rings. She had a beautiful white stone necklace. Even as a child, I was fascinated with that necklace. Amma used to keep that in a blue velvet case. Every time when we had to go for a party or attend a wedding. Amma would wear that white stone necklace. It was my job to wash and shine the necklace using toothpaste. My mother looked so beautiful and stunning when she wore that necklace.
I don’t really know why I was fascinated with that necklace. But I wanted that necklace.When I was little, Amma promised me, she would give that necklace to me and when I saw her giving it to Maria when Maria was leaving for Bangalore, I asked her
“Amma, you promised me you will give me the white stone necklace”
“True Nina, but I don’t want to keep it here at home,lest someone steal it. I am just asking Maria’s help to keep all the jewellery in the bank locker”
“Why can’t we open a locker here in Kottayam?”
“That is because Acha said, the income tax department can check the bank lockers and fine you”
“But this is your wedding jewelleries. Why would anyone want to make you pay tax on it?”
“Oh Nina, you don’t understand”
“No I don’t. But I want you to promise me that, you will give me the white necklace”
“I promise”
I should have known then that my mother had no intention of keeping her promise. But children have a natural tendency to trust their mother, even though they knew from past experiences never to do that. I was an idiot to keep falling in the same trap over and over.

While all the girls wore expensive diamond necklaces, I wore a plain silver necklace and few glass bangles. While everyone wore silk sarees, I wore a simple cotton saree. A part of me knew, I didn’t belong to the crowd, but there was someone in the crowd that I wanted to meet. I wanted that someone to know that, this is the whole package. Although my parents have money, my karma is such that, I never get anything.

Aparna was with all the Tamilian students and and Shylaja was with the Kannadiga students. Rightfully I should be with the Malayalee students. Anitha was standing outside her room door wearing a white kancheepuram saree with a red border. She was staring at me. I knew if I stayed around another second, I would have to hear all the sarcastic comments regarding my saree or ornaments. So I quickly walked alone to the soccer stadium. On one side of the stage, there was a huge stage with blue curtains as a back drop.
Some of the seniors were checking the mike, some were busy doing last minute decorations on the stage. I looked around. I couldn’t find beautiful eyes, So I sat down in one of the chairs.
I was all alone. I was always all alone.

Soon the VIP’s arrived and the speeches began. each person competing with the speaker before him to see who can give the most boring speech. I looked around, still there was no sign of beautiful eyes.
First program was a Bharatanatyam dance performance by a Telugu senior. She danced so gracefully and I was mesmerised. I was shocked when someone tapped my shoulder.
“What?” I turned to look. One of my junior was leaning towards my chair.
“ma’am, someone wants to see you?”
“Who?” I asked her
“One of the senior boys”
“Near the canteen”
It must be Jomon. He must have decided to have one more practice session. I walked towards the canteen. The canteen was closed. I looked around to see where is Jomon
“Hey, where were you? I was looking every where for you” Beautiful eyes was standing near the entrance and smiling
“You are the one who send the message?”
“Yeah. I was looking all over for you”
He was looking at my bangles
“Nice bangles”
“Thanks” I tried not to blush.
“Can I ask you for a favour?”
“I want you to stand right here”
“You can see the stage from here, can’t you?”
I looked at the stage.
“Stand here. Don’t move”
“you will know soon. I will be with you in a minute. Ok” he walked off
I wasn’t sure what was going on. Why did he ask me to stand in front of the canteen? Is he going to hurt me? Is this some kind of a trap?
I looked around. No one was around. Everyone was sitting down in front of the stage. I thought of walking back to where I was sitting. Then I heard the emcee announcing
“Solo performance, brought to you from Nagaland” I watched beautiful eyes walking in to the stage holding a guitar. he adjusted the mike and started to sing. I knew he was looking at me when he sang
I just called to say I love you

No new year’s day
To celebrate
No chocolate covered
candy hearts to give away.
No first of spring.
No song to sing.
In fact heres just another ordinary day

No april rain
No flowers bloom
No wedding saturday within the month of june
But what it is
Is something true
Made up of these three words that I must say to you

I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart

No summers high
No warm july
No harvest moon to light one tender august night
No autumn breeze
No falling leaves
No even time for birds to fly to southern skies
No libra sun
No halloween
No giving thanks to all the christmas joy you bring
But what it is
Though old so new
To fill your heart like no three words could ever do.

I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart.
I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart
Of my heart
Of my heart

I stood there, transfixed to the ground. I should have been on the top of the world, because I finally got what I wanted. But instead of joy, I was afraid. I felt sick for feeling like that. All this while I only wanted his love, but now when I got it, the flood gates of fear were wide open. Questions of “What if'”s started to pop up in my head. What if Appa and Amma won’t accept him? What if his parents don’t accept me? I felt so restless. This was a moment I waited so much. This was a moment that you only see bollywood movies. Gil likes boy, boy sings a love song for her! The girl is supposed to dance with joy. But in this case, I was like a telephone poll sans emotion. I watched beautiful eyes walking towards me
“You liked the song?” he asked
I nodded my head
“What does the nod means? You didn’t like it?”
“I liked it” I whispered
“Want to sit down?” He asked
Both of us sat down on the canteen veranda. Three wise men skit was going on the stage. Both of us watched it silently. I thought of Artaban again. It took Artaban 33 years to find what he was looking for and it took me mere months! For once I got what I wanted. I wanted to shout and say “yay”
“Nina, I will be going home tomorrow”
“What? Why?”
“Why? To see my family of course”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. I was asking Why are you leaving on Christmas day?”
“It will take a few days before I reach home. My home is in the interior and I want to be home for the Suhkruhnye
“What is Suhkruhnye?”
“That is our festival Nina. It is usually celebrated on the 15th of January. You know I am proud to be a naga!”
“hmm” I mumbled
“Why are you so quiet all of a sudden?”
I didn’t know how to explain to him that I would miss him terribly when he is away.
“you are sad because you will miss me?” He asked and I looked at him, trying to see, how did he manage to read my mind?
I smiled
“You have a beautiful smile Nina”
“hmm” I mumbled again
“Today is ‘hmmm’ day?
“Hmm” I mumbled again.
I saw few of the Malayalee seniors walking towards the canteen
“I have to go now. Have a safe trip and come back soon”
“Sure. Merry Christmas, Happy new year and good luck with your exams”
“Thanks” I didn’t really want to leave him, but Malayalee seniors are a pain to deal with. If they knew I am having an affair with a non Malayalee, they would do anything to break it up.
“Bye, Take care” I walked off quickly

Chechy, you took all of Amma’s jewelleries, all the family photographs, all the cross stitch work by penang Ammachi, all the brass wares( kindi, mondha to be precise) from Chengannur house, the brass Uruli Ammachi kept for me(so I can always eat black halwa!!).
I do understand that you are the oldest. But am I not entitled to any of the family heirloom? Are my children not entitled to anything from their grand parents and great grand parents? Or is it that, just because I am second in line, I must forget that I am part of the same family as you?


When Beautiful eyes asked me What was I searching for, I knew at that moment, He is the one I was searching for all my life.
When I told him Artaban’s story
He didn’t ask me is it a true story?
He didn’t ask me if I believe the story?
He didn’t even bother to blame Artaban for lying to the soldier who came to kill the woman’s son
He didn’t tell me, so whatever they taught at the Sunday school was correct!
Instead he asked me” what are you searching for?”
He was the first person, who could take the religion, Christianity, truth, lies and faith out from the story of Artaban and see an ordinary human being’s quest of life. He was the first person I ever met, who knew each of us here on earth are searching for something. Some search for better life, materialistic life, some search for knowledge, some search for happiness and I was searching for a man who understood me. A man who can accept me for what I am.

“So what is your hobby?” Beautiful eyes asked
“Nothing much”
“What do you mean nothing much?”
“Well I read a lot, Apart from that nothing much, You see, I can’t draw a straight line, so that rules out painting or any creative art. I am not good at making anything either.”
“What do you mean?”
“That is a long story! When I was little my mother wanted me to learn knitting because all girls should learn knitting! She bought me a ball of yarn and my own set of (two) knitting needles. At the end of the day she got 4 knitting needles and something that in its previous life was a ball of yarn!”
Beautiful eyes started to laugh and he asked
“Then what happened?”
“Then She decided to teach me crochet”
“Well, the idea was to make a loop with the crochet needle. It got knotted, so I pulled it hard”
“And nothing! let us just say that, the crochet needle was my grandmother’s and I spend the rest of the day hiding”
“Finally your mother gave up?”
“Nah, she tried teaching me tatting
“What is tatting?”
“Oh it is a total waste of time. You have to move the shuttle and create knots” I showed him the action by moving my hands
“And I created knots! plenty of them. The yarn was from England. Amma ordered it using the mail order catalogue. She even had to pay import tax!”
“She didn’t kill you?” Beautiful eyes was holding his chest and laughing
” she tried, unlike the sharp end of the crochet, you can’t kill anyone with a tatting shuttle!”
We were laughing so much that Jomon looked up to see what was going on
“Shh” I tried to hush Beautiful eyes
“You are so funny” He replied
“Shh, Jomon is looking”
“So nothing. Move your legs, I will go back to the hostel, before I get in to any trouble” I got up to leave.
He was staring at me.” Please let me go”
“Ok” He too got up
“Good night” I wished him
“Good night Nina. Sweet dreams”

Sweet dreams? he really wished me sweet dreams!! I felt a sudden rush of absolute euphoria. I felt I was floating till I heard Jomon calling my name. I stopped in my tracks and turned to look at Jomon. He was walking towards me
“Why were you talking to him?”
“Why were you talking to him?”
“Just now you were talking to him. Don;t think that I didn’t see you!”
“Oh him. Why is there a rule that says I can’t talk to him?
“There are no rules. But you should remember We are Malayalees, we don’t interact with North Indians. We have our own culture!”
I got so mad. Jomon isn’t my father to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do.
“Listen, I am 18 years old, old enough to vote here. I can make my own decisions. Why don’t you mind your own business? If I want to talk to him, I will. Who are you to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do?”
Before Jomon could respond, I walked off. The problem with Malayalee men is that, they think they have a God given rights to tell their women what they should do. They tell them how to dress, how to walk, who to marry.. everything.
I was so mad at Jomon for trying to interfere with my personal life.

Christmas party was on Saturday the 24th. All morning the ladies hostel was a hive of activities. Most students had gone to the salon to get their hair done. I had short hair. There was nothing much I could do with my hair.
That got me thinking, Why do I have short hair?
From the time I could remember, Amma always cut my hair short. Maria’s hair was almost a meter long. Liza and Sally too had long hair. There was once Amma promised me, she would buy me a pair of budgies, if I allowed the barber to cut my hair short. I didn’t want to cut my hair short, but my cousin had a pair of budgies and I always wanted a pet. I remember sitting in the deep maroon colour chair. I asked the barber
“How short are you going to cut?”
“Oh Nina, don’t worry, He is only going to trim it. Just a little bit” Amma rubbed my shoulder and smiled sweetly.
“Promise” I asked the barber
He too smiled and nodded his head
“You will buy me budgies?” I asked Amma again
“Yes Nina, how many times do I have to tell you that”
“Look down” The barber ordered. When he switched on the electric shaver, I thought I heard Amma say something. But I was too afraid to turn my head and ask, because I thought if I turned, then the barber might make a mistake and accidentally cut my hair too short!
I could see my hair falling on the towel kept on my shoulder. Some of it even dropped on my thighs. I moved my hand slowly and removed the hair from my thighs’
“Lift your head up” the barber ordered
I looked up. That is when I saw my reflection in the mirror
“Amma, you promised. You promised me you won’t cut my hair short” I didn’t want the barber to cut my hair anymore. I tried to get up from the chair
“Sit down Nina. Don’t waste my time” Amma started to scream and she pushed me back on to the chair.
“Let go of me. I don’t want to cut my hair anymore” I started to cry and scream.
“See this” Amma pushed my chin to the side and showed the reflection of the back of my head in the mirror. You look like a thoppikozhi (naked neck chicken). People will laugh at you. You don’t want to cut, fine, but don’t you dare come home and cry, when everyone laughs at you” Amma pulled the towel off from my shoulder.
“Get up” She was screaming. I looked at my reflection in the mirror. there was no hair at the back of my head. I knew I looked like a thoppikozhi. I didn’t want my friends to laugh at me.
“Ok. Cut my hair” I whispered
An old man sitting on the bench by the side of the shop asked Amma in Tamil
“Why did you tell him to cut your daughter’s hair short like that? Isn’t she a girl? Girls are supposed to have long hair”
“You shut up”. Amma scolded him. “I don’t have money to waste for a hair cut every month. If I get him to cut it short, then I don’t have to get it cut every month”
Amma looked at me to see if I understood what she said in Tamil.
I pretended, I didn’t.
I hated her so much. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to fight with her and spoil my chances of getting a pair of budgies. When the barber finished cutting, I didn’t look in the mirror. I didn’t want to see my reflection. I just wanted to go to the pet shop and buy the birds. As I left the shop I looked at the old man. His face was full of wrinkles and his eyes were deep inside the eye socket. Yet I could see sympathy in his eyes. I smiled at him, because I was getting the birds, my hair will always grow back. He too smiled.
As soon as we came out of the barber shop, I asked Amma
“Which shop are we going to buy the birds from?”
“Oh Nina, I was thinking about it. You know Appa doesn’t like us doing things without his permission. Tell you what, I will write to him today itself and ask for his permission. In that way he won’t scold us when he comes back home”
It was a moment I felt absolute hatred for my mother. I promised myself, one day when I have my own kids, I will keep all the promises I made to them. I will not be like my mother. I will not cheat my children.

We have a pair of budgies now.. but somehow the hurt, the anger and the hatred I felt towards my mother then.. still remains..