School will reopen on Tuesday. Yaya will be in grade 4, toothless in grade 2 and My baby is starting kindergarten….
Gosh, time really flies..
I will not be able to blog until Wednesday..
Wishing you guys a great weekend.
School will reopen on Tuesday. Yaya will be in grade 4, toothless in grade 2 and My baby is starting kindergarten….
Gosh, time really flies..
I will not be able to blog until Wednesday..
Wishing you guys a great weekend.
When I went to keep the glass in the sink, I noticed there were dirty dishes in the sink. I remembered the last time Amma got angry with me for not doing the dishes.
I was angry with Amma, but still I didn’t want to create another fight. So I washed all the dishes, checked them again to make sure that the dishes were absolutely clean, so Amma won’t get a chance to pick on me.
As I walked outside Amma lifted her head up and our eyes met. I knew what she was thinking
She would have been thinking
ennu kakka malannu parakkum(pigs would fly today).
I didn’t want her to see the smile on my face, so I quickly went to Liza’s room.
I counted 22.214.171.124, I heard Amma walking to the kitchen. I slowly peeped my head out. I was right.
Amma was checking the dishes in the dish rack to see if I cleaned it well!
“clean ano?” (is it clean?) I couldn’t resist asking Amma that
She turned to look at me.
I was hoping to embarrass her, but there was no sign of embarrassment on her face.
“Oh Nina,just one time getting it done right doesn’t make it right all the time” she replied
I hated myself for trying to get it done well!
Why am I so stupid? I didn’t know the answer.
I took out all the text books from my bag. I needed to analyze my situation. I usually leave all my studies to the last week before the exam. Until now it was never a problem. Although I would be a nervous wreck by the time the study hols are over, I still would have studied enough to barely pass the exam. But this time, I would be in Dubai during my study leave. I had to study Pathology, Microbiology and Pharamacology in just 4 days! That was simple impossible. Even God himself needed 6 days to create the world!
“How did you do it?” I heard Amma asking
“Convince your father?”
“I told him, I needed help to figure out what I should specialize in”
“What does your father know about medicine?”
I hated when Amma insult Appa every time.
“What does George know about Engineering?”
“What do you mean?”
” Didn’t he tell Chechy what she should do? Didn’t he tell Liza what she should do?”
“You! Questioning Acha? Do you know anything about him? Ha! Do you know he was a rank holder”
“For what?” I thought of asking rape? incest? what did he get the rank for? But I couldn’t.
“Get lost Nina. You father is incapable of giving any advice. He doesn’t even know how to be a good husband and father and you expect him to give you guidance? You are wasting your time. Besides, did you know Acha is taking Maria to US?”
Amma shrugged her shoulder as though it is top secret
“Why is Maria going to US?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Why did you tell me Chechy is going to US?”
“You are a jealousy pig! you just can’t be happy for your sister. Can you?”
“Amma, I am sick and tired of you telling me that I am a jealousy pig. What do I have to be jealous about? jealous because my oldest sister is going to US? Why do I have to be jealous about that?”
“Because you know, you can never go”
“Why? American’s don’t give me Visa? Only Maria gets a US visa? Why? because she is his highness George’s niece?”
“In US, They don’t need doctors from India”
“You worked there before to know that?”
“I don’t have to. Acha told me”
“Oh, Did he tell you that I can write ECFMG exam and get a license to work as a doctor in US?”
“What is ECFMG?”
“It is an entrance exam that allows foreign qualified doctors to work in US”
“What does ECFMG stand for?”
“Examination for” I tried to remember. We always used PLAB and ECFMG as acronyms. I never bothered to figure out what it stands for.
“Examination for what?”
“I can’t remember”
“Oh Nina, You don’t even know what ECFMG stands for! You can’t even string a sentence in English and you are going to write an American exam! be serious Nina”
“That is funny Amma, even George’s daughter didn’t pass the first MBBS without rewriting the exam 6 months later. But I managed to pass in the first attempt”
“nigalikkanda.. thanna nilathey neerodu” (pride goes before a fall)
“vellachattam mey linna!” I replied.
“We will see, you still have three more years to pass medicine No? I still have time” Amma nodded her head.
It was a moment I realized, my mother was waiting for me, her own daughter to fail, just so she could score a point.
I wasn’t going to give her that happiness.
If God could create the world in 6 days, I could study three subjects in 4 days. I took the books and started to study. Every few hours, I would check the page number to see how much more to go and my spirit would sink when I see how much more I have to study. But it was only temporary. I had to show Amma that her second daughter is good in studies!
I studied all through the night and finally when I could no longer keep my eyes open, I went to bed. I checked the clock, it was 4 Am. I set the alarm for 7 Am.
I woke up at 7, made myself a strong nescafe coffee and started to study. Every once in a while I cursed myself for my own stupidity. I could have enjoyed a nice holiday in Dubai if I wasn’t stupid enough to lie to Appa.
Lying is never good! I learned my lesson a tad too late.
By afternoon, my head felt heavy. I needed a break. Then I remembered tomorrow all the shops in commercial street would be closed. If I have to do any shopping, I have to do it today
“Amma” I called. She was in her room
“hmm” She replied
“What should I take for Appa?”
“What do you mean?”
“When I visit, what do I take for him? I can go and buy from commercial street”
“What for Nina? Are you crazy?” Amma came out of the room
“He gets everything there! He lives in Dubai for heaven’s sake Nina. Dubai , Nina! Why do you have to take something for him to Dubai, when everyone brings stuff fom Dubai?”
I wasn’t sure, so I asked again
“How can I go empty handed Amma?”
“Empty handed? You are visiting your father Nina. He should give you things, not the other way”
I knew Amma was right. Appa gets everything in Dubai. So there is no need to take anything with me. I was also glad that I didn’t have to waste money and buy something for Appa.
I had always dreamed of going for a movie with the love of my life. My dreams involved watching a beautiful movie while holding each others hands, eating popcorn and may be even share a 5 star bar!
I never thought my dreams would come true and certainly didn’t imagine it would turn out like this.
Half the people at the theater, instead of watching the screen, they were looking at both of us. I couldn’t blame them. They were surprised to see a Chinese looking guy, with a modern city girl coming to Kolar town to watch a Telugu movie.
My back was beginning to ache, because I was trying not to lean back on the chair lest the bed bugs climbed on to my shoulder from the chair. For the same reason I didn’t want to touch the arm rests either.
I turned to look at Beautiful Eyes.
He was almost laying down on his seat! and when he saw me looking at him, he pointed the screen and whispered
“Watch the movie”
I wanted to smack his head.
Watch the movie! What does he think? Didn’t I tell him that I don’t speak Telugu? What was there to watch when I don’t understand a thing?
I felt something like a pin prick on my arm.
Oh my goodness. The bed bugs must have come out of their hiding places and are already biting me.
I checked my arm. Under the dim light inside the theater, I couldn’t see anything. I rubbed my hand as hard as I could, hoping I could smash all the buggers that are trying to suck my poor blood!
Then I heard Beautiful Eyes laughing and I turned to look at him
He was looking at the screen and laughing.
I was getting really annoyed with him. Annoyed by the fact that, he could enjoy a movie in a foreign language, while I who could speak more languages than him couldn’t.
Our eyes met and I quickly turned my head
I didn’t want him to point the screen and tell me again to “Watch the movie”
From the corner of my eyes, I could see him shifting his body this way and that way and I knew without a doubt that the bed bugs got him!
Serves him right! I thought
That is when I saw his hand reaching out to hold mine.
He has held my hands so many times before. Mostly when we cross the road or climb the rocks. I didn’t know why he decided to hold my hands at the theater. But when he held my hand, Even though we were in a lousy theater , sitting on a chair that had springs poking through the damaged cushion and the air was stuffy and smelly, I felt a sense of togetherness. That he is mine and I am his and we are in this together!
May be that is why he took me to watch a Telugu movie. Because he knew, you don’t need a bottle of wine and a dozen roses to make someone feel loved!
To hell with the bed bugs. I leaned back on the chair and decided to watch the movie.
“So how was it?” He asked me as we waited for the crowd to leave the theater.
“It was beautiful. Thank you for taking me”
“You are welcome Nina” He was grinning like a little child who won life supply of Cadbury’s dairy milk chocolate!
“You are still crazy” I told him. That was the truth
“Still in love with you”
“Get lost” I replied
He started to laugh and I knew he was laughing at me.
“Come, let us go” He held my hands and we walked out.
“Hungry?” He asked
“No, but we have to hurry. Hostel gate would be closed at 9.30”
We walked towards his bike that was parked near the restaurant. There weren’t may people on the road. Someone was washing the floor in front of the restaurant. There was a single auto at the auto stand and the driver was looking at us with hope. I knew he would be counting on charging us double rate! One look at us and he would have known that we are not from the local area and he could demand the price and he knew we would be forced to pay.
“Boss, Auto?” The driver called
“No” Beautiful eyes shook his head and spoke. He pointed the bike to the driver.
I could almost see the disappointment on the driver’s face. It felt good. Auto drivers like him have been fleecing customers like me by charging double rate and triple rate and this rate and that rate for a normal journey. These drivers act as though they were the kings of Indian roads and demand a King’s ransom to travel on their vehicle. Today I didn’t have to. My boy friend owned a bike.
I walked with my head held high.
The hostel gate was locked by the time I reached back
“Gangamma” I called out
I could see Gangamma running down the steps
“Oh Nina ma, why are you so late? Princy and the Warden were looking for you” She whispered as she opened the grill
“What happened Gangamma?”
“They came for Spot check! Warden took the attendance and found that you are missing”
“I told them you went to the hospital, but they didn’t believe me”
I looked at Gangamma trying to see what was going on
“You know what Nina ma, Princy thought he is smart. He send mess boy to the boys hostel to see if Arjun sir is in the campus”
“Pricy thought you were with Arjun sir! I tried to tell him that you always go to the hospital to see the patients in the evenings. They didn’t believe me.”
“You know how many times I tried to explain to them? They thought Gangamma is not educated, She is stupid, so no need to listen to what she says!”
“Then what happened?” I asked her
“the mess boy came and told him that Arjun sir is at the hostel”
Gangamma was grinning happily.
“Thank you Gangamma” I gently tapped on her shoulder and quietly walked to my room. For once I didn’t feel guilty of two timing Arjun!
Friday evening I packed my bags to go home. I had exciting news to tell Amma. I wondered what her reaction would be when she hears the news?
I didn’t want to follow Arjun, so I waited at the library. The moment I saw his bike leaving, I walked out to the bus station.
It took almost an hour to reach back home and I got off the bus near the temple. My bag was heavy with all my books and dirty clothes that I brought along to wash at home. Just as I took the left turn to the street in front of my house, I looked up. I could see Amma standing on the balcony. She was taking a deep breath.
By the time I reached the gate, Amma was standing near the top of the staircase
“Where were you? Why are you this late? I was worried sick wondering what happened to you”
“huh?” I looked at her.
“Nina, you can’t do this to me. You know I am growing old. I can’t keep worrying about you like this”
“What are you talking about Amma?” I asked her. Amma worried about me? For what? Although I was annoyed listening to Amma’s whining, it was nice knowing that she did worry about me!
“last week you came at 5 pm. Look at the clock. It is almost 6.30 pm. I was standing on the balcony and looking at the road from 5 o clock!”
“oh! Sorry Amma.”
” Can I go inside? My bag is heavy and I have good news for you”
“What good news?”
Amma was still standing at the top of the stairs. She was wearing a long orange colour nighty and I felt I was standing in front of the pathiri for confession
“Can I go inside?”
“Oh! Go inside” Amma moved to the side to let me in.
“What good news?” She asked again
“Amma, my throat is dry, can I have some tea”
“tea ninte Ammayi appanodu chennu chodikku(go and ask your father in law)”
“ok. You can ask him for the news too” I dropped my bag on to the floor and walked to the kitchen. There was a steel glass full of tea on the gas stove. I took it and walked back to the living room. Amma was sitting on my bed
“I am going to Dubai to visit Appa“
“oh pinney” She nodded her head as though I spoke the biggest lie on earth
“I am serious Amma. Appa is letting me.”
“No way. He doesn’t let me visit him. No way Nina, no way he would let you visit him”
“He is Amma. I bought the ticket already”
“Where did you get the money”
I didn’t want Amma to know about Beautiful Eyes, I didn’t want Amma to tell George about him. I was afraid of George getting Beautiful Eyes arrested on trumped up charges
“Arjun. I borrowed the money from Arjun”
Amma didn’t say anything for a while. I drank the tea slowly
“Maria should have gone first to Dubai. After all She is the oldest”
“Why don’t you go and ask her” I got up from the chair. I hated Amma for tying to make me feel guilty. She always makes it sound like I have taken Maria’s inheritance like Jacob did to Esau!
Will try to update the blog tomorrow
Update: I received a mail from Text Link ads that few people signed up for text link ads through the ad on my site
Who ever you are, Thank you Very much..
(especially at a time when my bills are sky rocketing due to “back to school shopping!!”)
Last night, after yet another session of Mahabeli story, Yaya asked me
“Mama, why did the King Mahabeli want to come and visit his subjects? Why did he ask for such a request, when he could have asked so many things?”
Honestly, until last night I never thought about it. For me it was just a story behind Onam celebration.
Her question made me think and I realized the answer probably is, like every Malayalee who is staying outside Kerala, a part of him yearns to go back..
Back to the magic of malayalee childhood,
Munching the banana chips while sitting on the swing,
Singing Kuttanadan Punchayiley and while pretending to row the boats
Watching the vallam kali,
Dancing along with kaduva kali troupe
and of course the eating sadya with all the family members.
So I told her, Mahabeli is a Malayalee and all Malayalees love their home and want to return home, at least in their mind they would!
She looked at me and I knew what she was going to ask and before she could, I answered
“Yes, I do, every Onam I want to go back home”
She smiled and shook her head
“No Mama, I was going to ask, how does King Mahabeli travel? Santa uses reindeer sleigh, what about King Mahabeli?”
Her brother who was silent up until that moment replied
“He uses his Umbrella Duh!”
Wishing you all a very happy Onam
Does anyone know where I can buy( Online) Jackfruit chips from Kerala?
I felt numb. I could no longer think anything. In a way I was glad that I couldn’t think. Thinking makes me feel alive. I much preferred my current passive stage. Like the pet dog wagging his tail behind the master, I too walked behind him.He opened the glass door for me and I went in.
“Who did you speak to Nina?” I heard him ask
I shrugged my shoulder.
There were 5 people inside the office. Three ladies and two men.
One middle aged lady with blood red lipstick and permed hair got up from her seat and sashayed to where we were standing and introduced herself
“I am Mrs D’souza, how may I help you?”
“We are here to pick up an Air ticket” I heard Beautiful Eyes speak. He then explained that his girlfriend had made a phone reservation the previous day.
I watched Mrs. D’souza turning around and asking her colleagues
“Who made a Dubai booking?”
” The Malaysian passenger?” I heard someone asking
“No” Beautiful Eyes spoke
“Yes” I heard my own voice speaking.
He looked at me, rather he was staring at me, I could see the frown lines on his forehead, they were getting closer and closer. I wondered if frowning makes small eyes look considerably bigger?
“Have a seat madam” The lady who was sitting on the far right side desk pointed to the blue chairs in front of her desk.
Beautiful Eyes started to walk towards her and the I followed quickly.
“Hi I am Smitha” She introduced herself
Beautiful Eyes introduced himself and I waited for him to introduce me.
He pulled the chair and sat down
“I am Nina” I smiled hoping she won’t notice the hurricane brewing between the lovers.
“I need you to fill this form. Did you bring your passport with you”
She passed a form to me
“No” I replied
“I need a copy of your passport”
“ok.I can bring it next time”
I started to fill the form.
There were too many things to fill, maiden name, married name, marital status, address..blah blah.. Why do they need all these information just to issue a ticket?
I looked at Beautiful Eyes. He took the plastic bag from my lap and was busy counting the money. But I knew he was busy ignoring me. We were supposed to be lovers, but anyone who saw us, it was obvious, there was thick layers of ice separating us.
“Malaysia is a beautiful country No?” asked Smitha
If that was an attempt to break the ice, she was wrong. Each time the word Malaysia was mentioned, another layer of ice was added to the already existing thick blocks of ice.
“hmm” I nodded my head, hoping she would just shut up.
“Which part of Malaysia are you from?” She asked
I stared at her. Shut up lady, I tried to tell her. Don’t you see how much trouble you have got me in to? It is not that I purposely hid the truth from Beautiful Eyes. I never thought it was a big issue and seeing the way he was behaving, it obviously was a big issue.
But I was not good in telepathy. She was looking at me and she still had that trade travel agent smile on her face. The service with a smile type of smile.
“Penang” I replied
“Does your parents still live there?”
“Oh” She replied.
I stared at her and she probably knew it was time to shut up, because she was now looking at Beautiful Eyes and at the money he counted and placed on her desk.
“Have you finished counting?” She asked Beautiful Eyes
He nodded his head.
She took the money, counted and then called Mrs D’souza. Mrs. D’souza counted the money again and placed it in a brown envelope and walked towards the back of the office.
“I can only issue the ticket after getting a copy of your passport” Smitha spoke
“I will bring it on Monday morning” I replied
“ok. Thank you for using Sita travels” She got up, shook our hands again and walked in front of us and opened the door for us.
The outside was bright and shiny and I squinted my eyes automatically. From the corner of my eyes, I could see Beautiful Eyes walking towards his bike
“Wait” I ran after him.
He was leaning on his bike and was staring at me
“Why did you lie to me?” He asked
“huh? When did I lie to you?”
“You didn’t tell me you are a Malaysian? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because I didn’t think it was a big issue”
“What else have you been hiding from me Nina?”
The truth was there were a lot of things that I was hiding from him. A lot of things about my family. There was no way I could tell him all that was going on in my family. But I wanted to. I wanted to open up and tell him the truth about my family. But I was afraid that he may not love me the way he loves me, once he knew the truth.
This day was fast becoming my worst nightmare.I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.
“Oh Nina, I am sorry, I wasn’t trying to make you cry. I was just upset that you never told me that you are a Malaysian. But it is ok. I am not angry with you”
“I wasn’t trying to hide it from you. It is just that except for the passport, I no longer feel I am a Malaysian. I came to India when I was 10 years old, I have never gone back since then and at home my mother was afraid that people would take advantage of us if they knew we are foreigners, so she forbade us from ever mentioning the word Malaysia!” I whispered
“It is ok baby. Come let us go”
He reversed the bike, started the engine, wore his helmet and waited for me to sit down.
He lifted the visor of his helmet and asked
“Do you want to go to Kolar?”
“hmm” I replied
“Nina, I am hungry, can we eat first?” He asked me as we reached the village near our favourite spot
“Sure” I replied
Soon we passed the restaurant we had been the last time we came to Kolar
I tapped on his shoulder and pointed the restaurant.
“Too spicy” He lifted the visor and replied
“Where are we going?” I asked him
“There should be some restaurants in the town”
Soon we reached Kolar bus station and there was a restaurant across the bus stand. He parked the bike in front and we got off.
Everyone at the restaurant was staring at us. We found an empty table and sat down.
“Can you order dosai?” He asked me
“What kind of dosai do you want?”
“plain” He replied
I ordered dosai for both of us.
While waiting for dosai, I told him about my citizenship. In a way I was hoping that he would tell me about the money. In a way it felt like, I told you my secret and now you have to tell your secret. But he didn’t. he never told me where he got the money from and I could never ask him.
I felt I was becoming Eva Braun. May be she loved Herr Wolf so much that she never saw the dark clouds surrounded him. Like me she too would have seen only the silver lining.
I looked outside. On the left side of the bus stand there was a huge movie poster and I tried to read it. Beautiful Eyes turned his head to see what I was looking at and he too noticed the poster
“What movie is that?” He asked
“I have no idea”
When the waiter brought the bill, I asked him and he replied
“Geethanjali madam, Telugu movie. Best Movie madam”
“Nina, can you ask him when is the next movie show?” Beautiful Eyes asked
“What for? It is in Telugu. I don’t understand Telugu”
“Can you ask?” He was getting irritated with me and I asked the waiter
He checked the watch and asked the waiter
“Where is the theater?”
Waiter looked at me and I translated in Kannada
“There! He pointed”
The theatre was next to the bus station
“Come Nina, let us go”
“What? No, I am not watching any Telugu movie. I don’t understand Telugu, besides there would be bed bugs in the theater”
“Come on Nina, let us go” He grabbed my hand and started to run towards the theater.
I could almost taste the sweetness of victory over Suzy. But I was just hoping it wouldn’t be a sugar coated bitter pill*
I had to talk to Beautiful Eyes. He would probably know where I can borrow 20,000 Rs! But that was the main problem. Up until now he was the one who called me up. I never tried to contact him because I didn’t want anyone to know about us. I didn’t want to hurt Arjun and Caroline.
First things first. I planned my agenda, eat lunch, attend classes and then go to the canteen and sit there till he shows up. The last part involved wasting time at the canteen, instead of studying for the exams but I didn’t have any other choice.
Aparna was in the room when I came back after the phone call. Gangamma had kept my food on my table. I looked around for Shailaja. She wasn’t in the room and I knew she would have gone to the class with her friends. Some how, being dumped by a boyfriend is a sin and no one wanted to be part of a sinner.
“Aparna can you wait for me? I will eat quickly”
“Sure” She looked visibly relieved.
I ate the rice and the dhal quickly. Aparna kept looking at the clock
“Don’t worry Aparna, we have enough time. If prof is already in the class, we can always enter through the back door” I tried to calm Aparna
She shook her head
“How do you do it Nina?”
“Where did you get your courage from?”
“That is Methran Thambi’s genes!” I smiled and told her
“My grand father. He is reputed to be one of the most courageous men in our village”
“hmm” I nodded
“What did he do?” Aparna asked
Her question was like a lightning bolt that struck me. I realized, I knew nothing about Methran Thambi.
“Come, let us go, we will be late” I took my books and started to walk towards the door.
Although I boasted about Methran Thambi all the time, I knew nothing about him. Nobody ever spoke anything about him. I didn’t know anything about his family, his brothers, his sisters,his cousins, nothing. It was as though Methran Thambi simply sprouted from the ground.
I wanted to know more about Methran Thambi. I wanted to see my father and ask him about his father, my grand father. I was even more determined to visit my father.
The moment we entered the gallery, there was a pin drop silence. Everyone was looking at Aparna. All of a sudden there were loud cat calls and whistling and I looked up to see who was instigating it. Jacob John was sitting on the desk and whistling. All the other mallu monkeys too joined the frenzy.
I thought of asking Jacob John, how low can you sink?
I knew there was no point wasting my energy
For once I understood my mother was right each time she told me
ela vannu mullel veenalum
mullu vannu elel veenalum
kedu elakku thanney!
(if the thorn fell on to the leaf or if the leaf fell on to the thorn, only the leaf gets damaged!)
Getting a chance to speak to Beautiful Eyes was much easier than I anticipated. He was at the canteen when I walked inside and I mimed and told him to call me and walked out in the next second. Mission accomplished
He called up around 9 pm and I told him about my plans to visit my father and that I needed money to buy the ticket.
“How much money do you need?” He asked
“20,000. I can pay it back when I come back”
“No problem Nina, small matters. When do you need the money?”
“hmm” He mumbled
I wasn’t sure why he just said hmm
“Can you meet me tomorrow?”
“After clinics? Then we can go to the bank and get the money”
“Oh Thank you so much”
“You are welcome baby
“So see you tomorrow”
“Sure. I will meet you at the bus station”
“Nina ?” He spoke
“hmm” I answered
” You should know, I would do anything for you” He replied
“hmm” I mumbled.
After the phone call was over, I was just so relieved. His words anything for you kept repeating in my head and it felt so good and I knew.The pill was still sweet!
As I walked back to my room, I tried to think about what just happened. He has 20,000Rs in the bank?
Most of the medical students have a bank balance in thousands, not in ten thousands. He has that much money in his account? How did he get so much money?
There were seeds of doubts in my mind, but I just pushed it away. I had to see my father and the end justified the means!
After the clinics I took an auto to the bus station. I didn’t want to waste time by waiting for a bus. He was already waiting for me and when he saw me alighting from the bus, he started the bike.
“Hi baby” He greeted
“Hi” I replied. I wanted to ask him about the money, but I didn’t want to sound ungrateful.
Afternoon traffic in Bangalore was horrendous. There were too many cars and autos on the road. He weaved in and out of traffic and eventually I had no idea where we were going.
Then he took a left turn and I noticed a bank in the middle of a commercial building. There was a driving school, a restaurant and a bicycle repair shop next to the bank. We were far from MG road and other known places in Bangalore. I wondered how did he ever find this bank?
He parked the bike on the other side of the road. There was plenty of parking place in front of the bank, yet he chose to park on the other side. Why? I wondered.
He turned to look at me and I got off the bike. He got off the bike, removed his helmet and held my hand and started to cross the road.
Something was wrong, but I didn’t know what it was.
He opened the door for me, nodded his head at the security guy standing next to the door with a gun in his right hand and started to walk towards the counter.
I looked at the security guard. He wore an ill fitting khaki pant and a tight khaki shirt. His pot belly was in a constant stage of threatening to undo the buttons on the shirt and at one place I could almost see the yellow coloured banian.
He nodded his head when he saw me looking at him and I remembered what George told me once. That the security guys with guns at the banks were just a show piece. None of the guns were loaded!
Beautiful Eyes was already speaking to the bank manager and filling up some forms
“wait there Nina” He pointed to the chairs behind me and I went to sit down.
From where I sat, I couldn’t really see what was happening behind the counter and after a while, the bank manager came to the side door and opened the grill and let beautiful eyes in.
What is going on? Why is he going inside the bank? I had no idea
I must have waited for at least 10 minutes before I saw beautiful eyes coming out. He was holding a small plastic bag. He nodded his head again and said Thank you to the bank manager and looked at me and nodded his head
I got up and walked towards him. This time he didn’t hold my hand. He simply started to walk towards the door and I followed him.
“Come let us go”
He held my hand and we crossed the road silently.
“Can you hold this?” He passed the small plastic bag to me
“Could you tell me what is going on?” I asked him
“What is going on? What do you mean Nina?”
“Come on, I am not a fool. There are so many banks in Bangalore close to MG road, yet you have an account here in this bank? You didn’t withdraw the money from your account. You had the money in the bank’s locker”
“Come Nina, get on the bike, I will explain later”
“I want to know now”
“Not now Nina, not here. come let us go” I could almost feel the anger in his voice. I didn’t want him to get angry with me, so I sat down on his bike.
“Which travel agency did you use?”
“The one on St. Marks?”
He rode the rest of the journey silently and I had enough time to think. It was easy to put two and two together. I knew what was happening. All this was part of the war he was fighting! and suddenly the truth was more scarier than the fact.
The fact was he was fighting a war, the truth was, there was more to war than simply taking a gun and pointing at someones head.
*I remember reading a short story about a man who was getting retrenched from work and his boss gave him a gold watch as a gift and the man knew the watch was like a sugar coated bitter pill( ie the retrenchment order would come soon)..I just can’t remember who wrote the story.. Anyone here knows?
Update: Guys help me.. I have been searching the net since morning for the story I read. I just can’t find it. I read the story in India and it was written by an Indian author. It was written so well and I remember the story taking me to some part of the North India during the pre independence period, the old man coming home holding his bag and telling his wife that the boss gave him a gold watch…it was the first time I read about sugar coated bitter pill..
I wasn’t very sure how I was going to convince Appa if he was going to tell me not to come and visit him. When I called him, I was looking for a reason to tell my sisters that I tried everything and was not successful. But now, it was fast becoming an ego issue. I wasn’t going to let some Suzy decide if I could visit my father or not.
He is my father and I wasn’t going to let a stupid woman decide if I could visit him or not..
I looked at Aparna, she was trying to read a femina magazine, but I knew her mind was far away. She looked up to see me staring at her and she smiled. A sad smile, that was not from the heart, but from the lips. A futile attempt to mask the pain in the heart. I too smiled, an attempt to hide the aches and fears in my heart.
In sharing a smile, we were together, from enemies to friends.I understood her pain and in some way I felt she understood what I was going through. For me that understanding was more than enough. I didn’t mind that there is a possibility that Aparna might tell others about my parents and everyone laughing at me.
I couldn’t risk Appa knowing that Amma was staying in Bangalore. He would surely ask why I didn’t tell him and knowing my father, I knew the consequences, he would simply stop sending me money and that would be the end of my dreams.
I wanted to talk to Amma, may be she would know how to convince Appa. But we had no telephone at our house.
I wondered what Amma’s reaction is going to be. I knew she would be proud of me. Proud of the fact that I didn’t abandon my sisters when they needed me the most. For once I knew she would be glad that she gave birth to me, instead of aborting me when she had the chance!
I was half expecting Appa to phone me again and I was planning to get Aparna to tell him that I have night duty and can’t be reached until tomorrow afternoon. But he didn’t.
I imagined the scenario that in all probability was unfolding in some apartment in Dubai. My father would be staring at the phone with a clenched fist, ready to smack his disobedient daughter’s face. How dare she not return my call? He would ask that question a million time and Suzy would add more fuel to the fire and say that, she is like her mother. She isn’t bothered that her old father is waiting for her call and Appa would yell
and Suzy would yell back
“Why are you yelling at me? What did I do wrong? she would then mumble odichal lekkillenkil moothammakkirunnottey!!”
I could almost see my father getting up with a fist, ready to smash Suzy’s face.
Would my father hit Suzy like he used to hit Amma to keep her quiet? Nah not likely. Suzy was not tied to him in holy matrimony and unlike Amma, she could walk away any time. Appa couldn’t risk that. He couldn’t risk two women( Amma and Suzy) telling him that he was bad! He couldn’t risk Amma telling everyone that even Suzy couldn’t live with a moron like him. He would do anything to be in Suzy’s good book!
I completed my pathology assignments. Writing assignments were easy, All you need is a copy of one of the senior students assignment and simply change the sentences. The idea of making a student write assignment was to make then read the text book. I looked at my text book. My brand spanking new Robbins pathology text book with soft glossy pages. I had the Papa Robbins version(full) and most of my classmates had the baby Robbins version( condensed).
Why did I buy papa Robbins when I could have bought the baby Robbins? I didn’t know the answer. vinashakaley vipareetha budhi!!! What else do you call such madness?
The sight of the still untouched text book made me sleepy. Tomorrow was another day and I left all the burdens of my tomorrow with papa Robbins and went to bed.
As soon as the morning rounds were over, I went to the phone booth and borrowed the directory. I didn’t know any travel agents, then I remembered seeing Sita travels office on St. Marks road. I found their number in the phone book and dialled the number
“Hello” I heard a woman’s voice
“I need to buy an air ticket” I replied. I knew I sounded like a world class idiot. I had never bought an air ticket before and I didn’t know how to go about it.
“Where to?” I could almost feel the sarcasm in her voice.
“Dubai” I replied
“oh! When are you planning to travel?”
“next week? Have you got the visa already?”
I looked around the phone booth to see if anyone from my college was around
“I don’t need a visa” I replied
I realized She must be thinking this is a prank call, so I quickly added
“I am a Malaysian citizen, I don’t need a visa”
“Oh ok, When exactly do you want to fly Madam?”
Madam, just because I hold a red colour passport, I became a madam? I could almost feel yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir coming true.
“Any time next week”
“I have to be back before the 26th” I replied
“Give me a second madam, let me check”
She put me on hold. After what felt like an eternity listening to some crappy instrumental music, I finally heard her voice
“Madam, Air India flies to Dubai from Bombay on Monday and Wednesday and return flights are on Tuesday and Thursday.”
Monday was too close, there was no way I could do all my assignments by Monday.
“Could you book my flight on Wednesday and returning on the next Thursday?”
She booked the Indian Airlines flight to Bombay and the Air India to Dubai.
“You need to pay by Monday” She spoke
Monday? By Monday? How was I going to get the money by Monday? Even if Appa send the draft, I wouldn’t get the money by Monday.
“Sure” I said a quick “Thank you” and placed the receiver back on the cradle.
When I walked outside, I noticed the college bus leaving
“Damn it” I cursed
I looked around the bike park searching for Arjun’s bike. It wasn’t there. He too would have gone back to the college. I had the option to take an auto or wait for public bus. I didn’t have money to waste on the auto, so I waited for the public bus.
When I came back to the hostel, Gangamma was standing by my room door and instint told me that Methran Thambi’s son was busy
“Yes Gangamma?” I asked her
“Urgent phone call for you Nina ma. Your father called so many times.” Gangamma was a nervous wreck. She started to fold and unfold the edge of her saree pallu ” I asked Aparan ma, Shailaja ma, Anitha ma, no one saw you Nina ma. I looked every where for you”
“It is ok Gangamma. Don’t worry. I was at the hospital. What did my father say?”
“He spoke English Nina ma. so I asked Aparna ma to take the call”
“ok. Where is Aparna?”
“She went to the mess”
“hmm” I mumbled
I opened the door and went inside. There was a note from Aparna on my bed.
“Your father called. I told him to call again at 1 pm”
I looked at my watch. it was almost 1 pm. If I don’t go to the mess right now, I won’t get any lunch and I didn’t want to stretch Appa’s patience
I ran out of the room and called
“Gangamma” She was almost near the main door
“Yes Nina ma”
“Can you help me to get some food from the mess?”
“Sure Nina ma”
She went off to get the food for me and I walked to the phone room. On the dot of 1, the phone rang and I picked it up
“Hello” I answered
“Where were you?” Appa was screaming
“At the hospital”
“Why didn’t you return my call?”
“I called yesterday and spoke to your room mate”
“I had night duty and I just came back and my room mate told me you would call at 1 pm”
Lying wasn’t my forte and I didn’t enjoy it. But I had no choice.
“I was thinking about you coming here”
Of course I knew that. After all we are both from Methran Thambi’s family.
“I would be coming to India in a few months time, so there is no need for you to come all the way here”
“aiyyo Appa! I already booked the ticket”
“Appa, the thing is, I told all my classmates that I am going to Dubai to visit my father. They all think that I have the best father in the whole world.”
There was a moment of silence.
I knew that was it. Round 1, Suzy won. My father doesn’t give a damn about what my classmates think of him. What a stupid reason!
“When is your flight?” I heard him ask.
“Nina, when is your flight?”
“But that is not possible. I can’t send the money for the ticket by then”
I didn’t want Appa to use the ticket money as an issue to cancel my trip. So I replied
“Don’t worry about the money Appa. I can borrow it from my classmates”
I must be the only one who knew the perfect art of getting myself in to trouble. Where was I going to get so much money? I had to. I had no choice but to. I just wanted to win!( at least for my mother’s sake)
Abraham, when I read your comment in the previous blog entry, this story came to my mind.