As soon as I came back to the hostel, I went to the bank to withdraw some money.
I had 165 Rs in my account and I withdrew 100Rs.
I had to send the money to Amma, but how?
I didn’t have time to go back home and give her the money. I had lots of assignments to submit before the end of the week or I won’t be allowed to write the internals.
Unlike the first year MBBS, I was really enjoying the subjects taught in the second year. I enjoyed Pharmacology and microbiology( not so much Pathology)
It was exciting to see how microbes work and how the drugs work!
I scored the highest mark for all the pharmacology exams and I knew I might get the Gold medal for scoring the highest mark next year. I wanted to win that and I knew I could, if I worked hard.

May be I should send a money order for Amma. But that would take at least 7 to 10 days. I decided to post the money to Amma
I tore a sheet of paper from my record book and started to write a letter
‘Dear Amma’
I didn’t know what else to write. The words and the sentences were stuck some where in my brain and they refused to flow out through my pen. Communication gap! That is what it is called. I told myself.
Then I remembered something and I write
Dear Amma, I am in the well and hope you are in the well too. Please use the money to buy groceries
I knew Amma would laugh her heart out when she sees my letter. She knew ‘in the well’ story. She was the one who told us that story about how her classmate wrote the first letter home in English.
The record book was almost foolscap size and the letter looked so naked without any words in it. Why is it so hard to write a letter to ones own mother? I didn’t know the answer.
I drew a big heart in the middle of the letter. I wanted Amma to know how much I love her. I wondered if my mother knew how much I love her?
I didn’t know why, but Amma always felt Maria and my sisters love her more than I do and I keep trying to tell her, that isn’t true. But I was never successful, why? Why does Amma love Maria more, when she doesn’t do anything? Why doesn’t Amma love me 1/10 of the love she gives Maria, when I am the one who does everything for her? Why? Why? Why?
The injustices that I had to face made me so angry. I didn’t even want to post the letter
But the sensible one asked
“So what is the difference between you and Maria?”
‘Nothing’ I mumbled
I placed the money inside the paper, folded it well, so no one would notice the money inside, placed it inside the envelope and walked towards the mailbox to post it.
The dresses for Lisa and the school fees for Sally was at the back of my head, like the Oru Kudayum Kunjupengalum story, but so was the shiny gold medal for Highest mark in Pharmacology.
May be it was the greed for the gold medal, or may be it was the knowledge that there was no way I could get 12, 000 Rs that made me forget about my family.
I was busy doing my Pharmacology assignment when I received the phone call from Beautiful Eyes
In my heart

But the thing with guilt is, how much ever you try to ignore it, you feel it gnawing your conscience every once in a while and finally you just do things you never thought you would do and that made me phone my father and tell him that he is the best father in the whole wide world

As I sat in the canteen, I couldn’t really believe that my father has agreed to let me visit him. I wasn’t expecting him to. I only called him to get rid of my guilty feelings. I just wanted to be able to say to Liza and Sally that I tried everything, including calling up Appa and nothing worked. I was just hoping to wash my hands off like Maria did.
What am I going to do? There was no way I could miss the exam. My college send the internal marks to the University. I regretted lying to Appa that I have holidays next week. I should have thought first before talking. Now I can’t go and tell Appa that I have exams week after next. Besides Sally’s fees had to be paid as soon as possible.
I drank my tea quickly. I had to go back to the hostel and start preparing for the exam.
Aparna was sitting on her bed when I entered the room
“Nina, where did you go? I was looking for you everywhere. Your father called”
“When?” I asked her
“Few minutes ago”
“What did he say?”
“He wants you to call him back immediately”
“Oh. Ok”
I knew why Methran Thambi’s son wanted me to call him up. He would have discussed my trip with his illegal half and decided that I shouldn’t visit them, lest I know their secret.
I wasn’t going to let her spoil my trip. I needed time to think. Then I remembered something
“Aparna” I called out
“Yes Nina?” She looked up
“Did you tell my dad anything?”
“Did you tell my dad that my mother is staying in Bangalore?”
“No, you mean your dad doesn’t know?”
I was standing on the thin layer that separated me from the bottomless pit of shame and sanity. One wrong move would destroy everything. But I couldn’t risk Appa knowing that Amma is staying in Bangalore. I had three more years at the medical college.
“My parents are separated. And my father doesn’t know where my mother is and I want to keep it that way”The truth was out, it felt like someone dropped a bomb in front of me and I walked away quickly. I didn’t want to answer Aparna’s questions, that surely followed after such a revelation.

I read the story Oru kudayum….. by Muttathu Varkkey when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I would like Yaya to read that story.. I know it sounds silly, but is there any way I can get an english version of that story?

Morning has broken

Kids have skating. Will update the blog in the afternoon..

Wishing you guys a happy day..

Oh, I forgot.. My mother upon my father’s request sang this song when I was 4 years old. I still remember that day and still remember how much I enjoyed her singing..but then she never sang..never once and I never bothered to ask her why, neither have I asked her to sing again..


The blog id named http://malaysianincanada.blogspot/ is registered under my name and the blog named Daughters of tomorrow is the story of my life.

This to inform those who read my blog that I write without prejudice or malice.Whatever good or bad that has happened to me will be in this blog, that includes issues such as rape, sexual molestations, incest, religion and other medical maladies and issues that I have seen at work.

I am not here to change the view of anyone. I am here to write my views. Those that have objections regarding the subjects that I write always have the option to leave without reading.
In other words, my blog contains matters that are suitable for ‘matured’ people who can think rationally.
I see that some people are afraid of the truths that I write because they are concerned that certain tagging issues and dirty wounds! might hurt innocent people!
I appreciate your concern for the well being of my children, my future grand children and my future nieces and nephews.
I am not ashamed of what happened to me and I am not ashamed of what my father/mother/sister/whoever did in their personal life. I don’t judge my family members and I am not writing this blog for anyone to judge them either.
My children are raised with the same view. They have been taught to understand that people makes mistakes and only those that haven’t can cast the stones.
When the time comes they will know the truth about their mother’s family and I am sure life will go on. My kids are not going to wallow is self pity because of what their grand parents did and the idea that no one would marry them because of the explicit sexual matters and contents in their mother’s blog is baseless (Besides,The chances of my half mallu kids coming to India to find a suitable partner or agree to have an arranged marriage is pretty slim)

I don’t have any nieces or nephews currently and in the event they do come, their parents are matured enough to tell them about their aunt’s blog and why she did it.
So like someone wrote, truth have to be told and will be told, but not half baked truths to satisfy eastern/western/whatever culture or for people who likes to sweep dirt under the carpet than to deal with it.

Warning: This blog contains subject matter suitable for mature people. Reader discretion is advised.

48 rs

I loved to read Sunday edition of Newspapers with extra comic strips, horoscope, movie reviews etc. I changed my dress to go out.
“Where are you going?” Amma asked
“To the corner shop”
“Can you buy a kilo of cooking oil too? Oil finished last night” Amma spoke
“Sure Amma. Where is the bottle?” I asked Amma
“For what?”
“To buy the oil?”
“Nina,They don’t sell oil ‘loose’ here, It comes in packets”
All the better I thought. I didn’t want my hands to get dirty with oil anyway.
“There is no vegetable also” Amma was looking down on the ground. I felt bad for her. I felt bad because I knew she was feeling ashamed that she can’t provide food for us.
“Where do I buy vegetables from?”
“There is a vegetable shop across the road from the corner shop. Take the first left turn after the corner shop and you will see a Nandini Dairy shop and next to that there is a vegetable shop”

I checked my wallet. I had 50 Rs with me. More than enough to buy oil and newspaper and vege.
I got out of the house and started to walk towards the corner shop. I had to watch every step, so I won’t step on cow dung. The drain by the side of the road was stinking and dirty water was over flowing on to the road. How do people live in such conditions and go about their daily life as though all these are part and parcel of life?

There were so many people waiting to buy grocery at the corner shop. The shop had two entrance, both blocked by 3 feet high counter with glass top. The shop keeper and his assistants stood inside the shop amidst the gunny sacks holding lentils, rice,sugar etc.
There was no queue to stand, each person tried to yell the list of things they wanted to buy and the shop keeper and his assistant tried to attend to as many people as they can at the same time creating a systematic chaos. I was standing next to an elderly man who kept yelling
“1/4 kilo sugar and a bar of lifebuoy soap”
One attendant brought a Lifebuoy soap and placed it on the counter and then he went to attend to another customer.
“Sugar. I need 1/4 kilo sugar” the old man yelled, but the attendant was already measuring lentils for someone else.
After few more minutes of constant yelling, another attendant measured the sugar and he too kept the packet on the counter in front of the old man.
“How much” The old man yelled.
“Ask the boss” He too went on to attend the other customers.
I was too shy to yell, so I waited hoping to catch someone’s attention.
Few minutes the owner of the shop wearing a mundu and white shirt, came and checked the packet on the counter
“Is that all?” He asked the old man
“Yes, I had to wait an hour to get 1/4 kilo of sugar and a bar of soap” Muttered the old man
The owner pretended he didn’t hear it.
He calculated the cost, took the money and walked towards cashier’s desk. He opened the the drawer and kept the money inside, then took out the balance and gave it to the old man. That is when he saw me
“Yes” he asked
“1 kg cooking oil and Times of India”
” brand? oil?” he sounded annoyed as though I was wasting his precious time.
I had no idea what brand oil is available. I used to do grocery shopping for Amma when we were at Kottayam and I just had to tell Anichettan, “Cooking oil” and he knew what oil I wanted.
“Any” I knew I sounded like an idiot, but I honestly had no idea what brand oil Amma was using in Bangalore.
I watched the shop keeper going to the back of the shop and bringing a yellow colour tetra pack carton with sunflower picture on it. He placed the packet in front of me on the counter. He then went to get the news paper that were hung on a plastic rope near the left hand side of the shop. I took the 50 Rs from my wallet and the when the shop keeper came back with the news paper, he saw the money in my hand. Without a single word, he took the money from my hand and went to the cashier’s desk, placed the money inside, took some coins and placed the coins in front of me and went on to attend to the next customer.
This was the most silent transaction I have ever done in my life and something wasn’t right. I looked at the coins on the glass counter. There was 45 paise. I gave 50 rs. There has to be mistake, how can he give me 45 paise balance? Is he trying to cheat me? My blood pressure started to rise thinking that I was getting swindled. After all I am a good catch.most people were hading in 5 rs and 10 rs note and I gave a 50! He must have thought I am some rich kid with money to throw out!
I won’t let anyone swindle me
So I yelled
“Where is the rest of the money?”
The shop owner turned to look at me
“What money?”
Aha, he is asking me what money? I will tell him
“I gave you a 50 Rs note” I yelled
“I already gave you the balance” he sounded agitated
Everyone was looking at me
I wasn’t going to go without a fight
“You gave me 45 paise” I picked up the money and placed it in my palm, so everyone can see.
“Oil was 48.05. Rs and the newspaper was 1.5o and the balance is 45 paise. Didn’t you learn to calculate when you went to school?” He asked mockingly
Everyone was laughing at me.
Oil costs 48 rs for a kilo? I didn’t know that. I never bought oil in Bangalore. Even at the hostel I used to oc* oil from the mess for cooking in my room.

I took the oil carton and the newspaper and quietly walked back towards home.
Initially I was upset because I really got chummified (embarrassed) at the shop.
But as I took each step towards home, I wanted to cry, my heart felt so heavy. Amma was waiting for me at home, hoping to cook the vege I bought to feed us.
There was nothing, not even a cucumber I could buy for 45 paise and I had spend all my money. I knew I failed my mother.
While I was spending money to buy burgers and mangosteens, my mother was struggling to feed my sisters and I never once bothered to think about how Amma was struggling
I should have known that there is no place in the first floor house for Amma to grow vege, unlike the house where we stayed in Kottayam. There Amma grew papaya, yam, green bananas etc and we always had vege at home.
I understood why Amma was upset when I made tea for Arjun and finished the milk, I understood why she was upset when she saw the mangosteen.
I regretted for being so selfish. There is no excuse for being selfish.

When will this stop?

This is part of a mail I received this morning.

Let us just assume that we didn’t know each other ; at least even through emails. Even as a stranger, I am alarmed at what you have been putting up in the blog. Just as from one human to another may I ask you to refrain from such explicit details of relationships that you have in your writings. You may also want consider deleting some that are already out there.

Think about how it will affect your children, your sisters and their children, and all the others you have named! These revelations have strong implications and severe consequences. I am not so naive to assume that you have not. But still … with the course you have adopted, you are taking plunge into an unknown … for your children and indirectly for others.

As you know that I have absolutely no personal gain from what I have stated, I hope you will at least take sometime to consider my suggestions.

You have suffered much, yet you have not gone under. You are making the best of life as you can now. I see dignity, strength and great courage in that. I respect that and at times I am at owe the way life has been for you.

Yet and yes, yet other word of caution.

What if life is not just what we have here now and today! A day will come to many (not to all) when they will start worrying about such things. If that happens don’t just conclude on your decisions with one sided arguments.

May you and your lovely children have a blessed and happy life. May the giver of peace and life give you peace and happiness for the rest of your life.”

To the person who send the mail

I am sorry, if you feel that my blog is detrimental to the welfare of my sisters/mother/father/my kids..
Unfortunately what I write is what I went through and I don’t own a magic wand to make things better.. to make everything perfect( believe me, I wish I have a magic wand.. at least for my Children’s sake)

However, I will continue to write about my thoughts, my feelings, my experiences because I need to find my answers..
You don’t like the way I write.. I am sorry, I really can’t help you.
I never said this is going to be a fairytale and I don’t intend to create a fairytale to please you.

Lastly, you wrote”you are taking plunge into an unknown … for your children”
Please don’t bring my Children in to this.
You have no idea what my family makes my children go through.
What do you know about my children’s feelings?
Do you have any idea what my children go through each day?
Do you know how much it hurts them when their friends get birthday/Christmas cards and gifts from their grandparents/uncles/aunts and not my kids?
Do you know how Yaya felt when her wonderful Ammachi didn’t wish her on her Birthday?

What do you want me to tell my children when my family treats them like this?

How do I introduce them to my father, when he lives with a woman younger than my oldest sister while my mother is alive? How can I let my children call my father’s mistress grandma as my father expects them to?
How do I let them meet their grandmother, who loves to tell them that “your mother is really stupid and dumb”?

All my life, I thought about everyone else’s feelings and even when I was hurting, I was there for my mother and my sisters when they needed me..but while I was busy trying to hold my family together, they forgot I existed, in their selfish life, there was no place for me or for my feelings..(now they have no place for my children in their life either)
I don’t think I ought to worry about their feelings or the consequences of my writings.. Each of them knew what they were doing, they chose to do it on their own free will..and my blog is to tell my side of the story.

Ancient Mariner

FAMILY stands for Father and Mother I love You isn’t it? and I was hoping that my father and mother would die.
What am I going to do? How am I going to protect my sisters and take care of them? I needed to protect my baby sisters. I didn’t want my parents destroy their life like the way they destroyed Maria’s. But what can I do? How was I going to raise 2 sisters on my own, when I am just a second year medical student?
My mind was screaming, ‘Somebody please help me’.
Who among the crowd called relatives would come to my aid? My immediate group of relatives consisted of Chengannur Ammachi, Penang Ammachi, Kochumol aunty,Tante Ida and Dr. Jacob Cheriyan. What do I tell them? Tell him about Appa and Amma? Appa and his mistress? Amma and George? Maria and George?
The truth was I couldn’t tell anyone anything about my family. It was too shameful to be shared and we, Liza, Sally and I carried the shame silently.
I remembered the cries of Ancient Mariner
Water, water, every where
,And all the boards did shrink ;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

There was no one to hear my silent screams of despair. There was no one to step in and help me hold my family together.
May be I should just walk away from all there. But then I remembered the Ancient Mariner carrying the dead Albatross around his neck. I knew I too will be carrying the guilt of walking away from my family around my neck for the rest of my life.

Amma had made wheat flour dosai for breakfast. I took the dosai in a plate and sat on my bed to eat. While I was eating, I noticed Liza had changed her cloths and was getting ready to go out.
“Where are you going Liza?” I asked her
“Where ever I want to. Who are you ask me?”
“I am your sister Liza” I replied
“Sister, my foot” She spat on the floor and walked out of the door. Amma was standing near the kitchen entrance and she looked at me and then ran after Liza
Amma stood near the top of the stairs and called after her
money, where are you going?”
“Fuck off” I heard her yelling and then I heard her opening and slamming the gate shut.
All our neighbours must have heard her cussing and the way she slammed the gate.
I was so mad at her. I wanted to give her a piece of my mind. But I couldn’t. Because I knew Liza wasn’t bothered about what neighbours thought about us. I didn’t want to humiliate Amma by fighting with my sister outside the house. I hoped the landlord didn’t hear anything. The last thing I wanted was to be evicted.
Amma was leaning against the door and was staring at me. For a second I thought she was going to curse me and accuse me for starting the fight. Then I saw the tears running down Amma’s cheeks and I got up to wipe them. She pushed my hands away and went back to her room.

There were so many times I wished my mother would suffer for the way she treated me. But I never wanted her to suffer like this, not at the hands of my sisters. Even in my hatred, I never wished for my sisters to treat Amma like this, because good or bad or terrible, a mother is always a mother and the least a child could do was not to hurt her mother.

First there were 6 of us, then it became 5 when Appa left us. But it wasn’t so bad,because we sisters still had each other and we had Amma. Then it became 4 when Maria left us and although her association with George was hurting, I consoled myslef that I still had Liza and Sally.

But Did I?

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around :
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound
Unlike the ancient Mariner, I had no Albatross to steer me towards calm waters. I had no one to help me keep my family together.
I watched silently as the vase that once was a beautiful family now getting reduced to shards. Shards with sharp edges that only served the purpose of inflicting more pain.


Amma didn’t say anything and I didn’t know what to do. I sat down next to her on her bed.
Amma’s mattress was soft and fluffy. She still used the same cotton filled mattress her mother gave her as part of her wedding trousseaux. Every time when the mattress gets a bit lumpy, Amma would keep it under the sun for a few hours and it would be back to fluffy and soft.
I remembered each and every time Amma yelled at me for jumping on her treassured mattress. She used to yell at me saying
“My mother spend days inside the closed stuffy room to clean the cotton and make this mattress for me. I won’t let you destroy it”
I used to get so mad at Amma for being such a spoil sport. How could an old mattress get spoiled because I jumped on it? Amma didn’t want me to have fun. That is why she was so mean. I was pretty sure of that.
But as I sat next to her on her bed, I realized that of all the things my mother owned that was eventually shared and divided, this was the only thing that she never gave up. Her mattress followed her where ever she went. Why? I wondered
Why does she still sleep on the old smelly mattress, when she could sleep on the foam mattress Appa got for her?
I realized, May be it was the only link she had with her own mother. May be her memories took her home in a far away land and she didn’t want to lose the only vestige that connected her past to the present.
I felt bad for all the times I snuck behind her back and jumped up and down on her mattress. It was a thrill then and now it was an ache that kept telling me
‘I shouldn’t have’
But the problem with feeling bad is, it is like catching smoke rising from the burning fire. You see it, you smell it and you know it is bad for your health, but you just can’t hold it. It keeps slipping out of your fist and you just can’t contain it.
You know you will only be free of the smoke when the fire burn out! but even that isn’t in your hand.
“I need to pay Sally’s school fess by next week” Amma whispered
“How much?”
I thought I really didn’t hear the amount
“What? How much did you say Amma?” I asked again
“12,000 Rs. I have to pay school admission fees, transfer fees, uniform fees, sports fees, this fees and that fees. They have so much of fees to pay!”
“Goodness Amma, That is a lot of money. Why is it so expensive?”
“Expensive? This is nothing. If I had told the truth that your great father works for the Queen and you are not Indians, then we would be looking at Lakhs!”
“oh! What did you tell them?” I asked her
“I told them that your father is dead” Amma shrugged her shoulder
I was to stunned to react. How could she? How could she tell that Appa was dead? He is her husband for heaven’s sake.The man who tied the minnu around her neck
“Anyway he is as good as dead No?” Amma was looking at me.
I didn’t reply. What do you tell? How do you defend a man like my father? I wanted to defend him, but I couldn’t.

I didn’t want to ask, but desperate situation calls for desperate measures.
“Amma, Have you tried asking Maria for money?”
“Ofcourse I did Nina! Do you think I am that stupid?”
“What did she say?”
“What she said? Do you want to know what she told me?”
Amma was staring at me.
” She told me, Amma,You should have known You have children and should have saved up for their education. She told me, I shouldn’t have had children if I couldn’t raise them. It isn’t her responsibility to educate her sisters”
I could feel the anger in my mother’s voice.
I wanted to reach out and hold my mother’s hand and offer some sort of comfort. But I couldn’t because I was clenching my fists. I was that mad at my big sister. We stood by her, we allowed her to follow her dreams. Appa wouldn’t have left us if she had done medicine instead of engineering and now she is telling us we were fools all along? That we should have thought about us when we put our life on pause so she could fulfil her dreams? How can anyone be more selfish than this?
“We will find a way Amma” I spoke knowing very well that there isn’t a way any where. But hope is something you can give in liberal doses without worrying about the cost.
“How Nina? Where am I going to get so much money?”
“I will ask Appa” I spoke without thinking
“Nina, you know You can’t ask Appa”
“Why not?”
“Oh Nina, if you tell Appa that Sally is studying in Bangalore, Then Appa will know that I have moved to Bangalore”
“Don’t be stupid Nina”
Amma looked away.
Sometimes words are not needed to be spoken. You can read the message in simple gestures.
George, Bangalore, Amma and Appa couldn’t be placed in the same sentence, let alone in real life. Two is company and three was a crowd and four? and five?

I felt sick thinking of it. Why does Amma do things like this? Why did she come to Bangalore when she knew Appa would never approve it?
It was heartbreaking to realize that, I was stuck in the middle of two people who absolutely hated each other and who will continue to hate each other and will do anything to spite the other person..
Since the time they walked down the church aisle, my parents only goal in life was to teach the other person ‘a lesson’!
ninne njan oru padam padippikkum! That was all they were interested in.

In the midst of all the teachings, they forgot one thing. They forgot that they were playing with the lives of four innocent children. They didn’t notice that the security and foundation offered by a strong family was missing in their children’s life and to them it didn’t matter at all that their children could fall out without the support of a traditional family.
But the sad reality was that this madness would never stop. This teaching lessons to each other is a life long occupation for both my parents

My father has been waiting for one of us to fail, or falter. He was waiting for a chance to prove that his wife was at fault and she failed in her duty as a mother.
And my mother, she was busy trying to prove to my father that he wasn’t a good teacher and that she would do anything that pleased her, even if she knew my father hates it.
I got up from Amma’s bed and went back to the living room. I lifted my pillow and leaned it against the wall.
I wished I was an orphan, like the kids at Mother Theresa’s orphange in Bangalore. The only difference, unlike the orphans who keep wishing for parents, I wished mine would die.
I looked outside my window. The sun was already rising and there was not a single star to be found. I closed my eyes, I could see the constellations in my mind and I wished over and over, I wished on every single star in the sky, that both my parents would die quickly. Only their death would liberate us!


Kids have skate boarding lessons in the morning this week.
They are excited and I hope my poor heart will survive watching all the stunts they love to do!!!
I will try to update the blog by evening


I went to bed early, because my mind doesn’t bother me when I am asleep. I didn’t have any blanket, so I used an old bed sheet as a blanket. The bed sheet was from a set of 6 sheets Appa had brought when he came home from Rhodesia. Maria took the pink and the blue sheet and Appa gave me the mauve colour sheet with white flower print on them. I thought the flowers were jasmine and I was so glad that Appa remembered my favourite flower. But how did he know that I like Jasmine flower? I never told him that. So I asked him
“Appa how did you know that I like Jasmine flower?”
He looked at me bewildered. Then he noticed the bed sheet in my hand
“Nina, that isn’t a jasmine, that is Aerangis, it is an orchid, found in most part of Africa”
“oh” I said dejectedly, mostly because Maria was standing behind Appa and holding her hand over her mouth, pretending to hide her mocking grin and partly because I realized my father made no effort to know what I liked or disliked.
Appa too noticed that Maria was laughing at me, but I didn’t want Appa to come to rescue me. Why should he? Why should he rescue me, when he made no effort to learn what his favourite daughter really liked?
I kept the sheet back in Appa’s suitcase and got up to leave the room. I was almost near the door when I heard Appa asking Maria
“Maria tell me, how did the orchid get its name”
And I waited, 1 sec, 2 sec…5 sec for Maria to answer. I turned to look at my sister. She didn’t know the answer? Ms. Know it all didn’t know the answer? Goodness gracious, that was impossibly impossible.
She shook her head.
“Nina, what about you?” Appa looked at me and asked
Normally, I would feel embarrassed when I am unable to answer my father’s questions. But this time I was not ashamed to shake my head. How was I supposed to know something that even Maria didn’t know the answer?
“Orchis was a Greek God and he misbehaved during a party given by Bacchus, the god of wine. Bacchus got really angry with Orchis and ordered orchis to be killed and his body chopped in to pieces and thrown away, where ever Orchis’s body part fell, a new flower bloomed and it was called orchid”
“oh” Maria and I whispered.
Then Appa told us more stories about Venus.

I realized if it wasn’t for Ammachi and my father, I would have never known this many stories. But what was the point? What was the point of knowing so many stories and never learn from it? I didn’t know the answer, but there was a kind of uneasy feeling in me and I felt uncomfortable thinking about my own life. Of all the four of us, only I was interested in all the mythological stories. Am I going to turn out to be like Appa? Would I too run away from responsibilities like Appa did? No, I won’t. I promised myself I won’t run away. I clenched my fist to reaffirm. I would be like Ammachi. I will not be like Appa.
The sensible one asked
“Are you sure Nina? Are you going to waste your life for others like your grandmother did?”
“Shut up” I almost screamed
I had to think of something else or I would never be able to sleep. I started to visualize the stars in the sky and started to count them.

Early in the morning, I heard Amma walking to the living room to switch off the fan. I thought of getting up and switching the fan on, but I remembered the electricity bill that Amma has to pay.
Without the humming sound of the fan motor the room became very quiet and it kind of felt eerie. I could hear the water dripping from the kitchen tap. Amma must not have closed the municipality water supply tap after filling the water last night. I knew that anytime now the municipality would turn off the water and I waited. Suddenly a gush of water dripped down the tap and then it stopped.
The silence was soothing and I turned to the side to sleep. Within seconds the water started to drip again. it felt as though each drop was trying to make more sound than the one before, as it hit the bottom of the sink. I didn’t want to get up, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep after that, so I pulled the blanket over my head, hoping to shut the noise out. But it was futile. I could hear each and every drop of water dripping down the tap.
I couldn’t take it anymore, so I got up and walked to the kitchen to turn off the tap. As I walked back to my room in the darkness, I looked at Amma’s room. Her bed faced the small window on the side wall and there was a little light coming in from the street light behind our house and I thought I saw Amma sitting down on the bed.
I squeezed my eyes shut and opened them again and looked at her bed. I wasn’t imagining, my mother was sitting down on her bed with her head in her hands. She might not have heard me getting up, because she didn’t look up. Then I heard her gasping and I realized she must have been crying. I wondered how come I didn’t hear her crying?
But it didn’t matter at all. Why should I care if my mother was happy or crying?
She should cry, I told myself. She has hurt me too much and it is only fair that she cry a little bit. May be God was punishing her for the way she was treating me.
I tip toed back to my bed and lay down.
I closed my eyes, so I could sleep. But my ears were straining to hear if there was any sound coming from my mother’s room. Then I heard it again. A gasp! that spoke volumes of ones struggle.
A struggle to catch a breath while weigh down by so many burdens., Struggling to raise children abandoned by their father, fighting a losing battle all by oneself, and a struggle of loneliness and a silent cry for help.
There was only one person in this world who understood that cry for help. It wasn’t Appa, it wasn’t George, it wasn’t any of my sisters or anyone from my mother’s family. I got up from my bed and walked to Amma’s room and sat down on her bed.
amma enthina karayunney? Ammakku njan illey?” (Why are you crying Amma, when you have me?) I asked her.

Still not good enough

Too much of thoughts were going through my head. I had enough of Amma blaming me for everything. I wanted to talk to Amma why is she blaming me for everything? Why isn’t she blaming Maria? Why is she not asking Maria to stay with us? Why is she allowing Maria to go out with George? How could she live as a mother and not fight for her daughter? but I couldn’t, because the land lady was sitting next to me and was busy offering words of wisdom to me.
“Nina, you must take responsibility. Your mother needs you. How can you expect her to raise 2 daughters on her own. You know your father is irresponsible. Otherwise, which man would just leave his kids and wife like this and disappear?”
I knew my father is irresponsible, I didn’t need the land lady to tell me that. I felt, she had no business to talk bad about my father. He is still my father. I was getting annoyed with her for speaking bad about my father. But the irony was, the land lady was telling the truth. My father was indeed irresponsible and I knew that. Somehow it still hurt me when a stranger spoke badly about him. May be because I always believed that, if Amma was a good wife, Appa wouldn’t have abandoned us, would he? It was all Amma’s fault wasn’t it? She never made any effort to make her marriage work anyway, so why blame Appa. From the back of my head the sensible one asked
‘You do remember all those times your father physically hurt your mother, you do remember the time he threw her out of the house’
I remembered each and every thing. But somebody had to take the blame. It was not humanly possible to blame God for all the calamities in my family.
“Nina, you should take your father’s role” Landlady spoke.
I wanted to ask her
Father’s role? Why should I? Why the hell should I take my father’s role? What about Maria? Isn’t she the oldest? Isn’t she working and earning an income? Isn’t she the smartest of the Thomas family? Why isn’t anyone asking her to take the place left vacant by my wonderful father? I don’t want to take any more responsibilities. I wanted to be free of my family. I wanted to live my life and not worry about my family.
I felt there is no point arguing with the land lady. She has already made up her mind that I was the root cause of all ills in my family. I didn’t want to make it worst by arguing with her
I still had a lot of questions to ask Amma, so I waited for the land lady to finish the sermon and leave. The land lady continued to babble, but I was far away, in Nagaland, in a small house with my wonderful husband and 5 daughters.

Suddenly we heard a loud noise from the kitchen and both of us ran to the kitchen to see what happened. There was yellow lentils all over kitchen floor. Amma looked at the land lady apologetically.
“the tin slipped out of my hand” Amma mumbled and showed her injured palm with the cloth bandage on it and the empty Nutramul Tin.
“Painful hand or not, I still have to cook, don’t I?” She was looking at the land lady
“Why didn’t you ask Nina? She can cook, can’t she?” The land lady was looking at me, as though I was the worst criminal on earth who is forcing her old mother to cook a royal meal even when she was in pain.
If only the land lady knew the truth! If only she knew the truth that my mother never wasted her energy to cook food for her daughters. Her idea of a meal is porridge and green gram dry curry. Only I know how many times we have eaten rice with fermented yogurt with worms in it or spoiled sambhar because she refused to cook and I was too young to cook.
“She cooks? She doesn’t even know how to boil an egg” Amma replied
I was so mad at Amma for talking like this. I have been cooking food for her and my sisters since the time Akkachi got married. How dare she says that I don’t know how to cook?
“Amma, I know how to cook” I replied
“Oh really, that is news to me. Aunty why don’t you ask her, when was the last time she cooked food in this house? Why go that far? ask her if she cooked anything this afternoon? You know Aunty, From the time I got up this morning, I was stitching dresses for Liza.”
Amma arched her back and started to rub her lower back with the back of her palm.
“Aunty, You know how much my back hurts? It is not easy, sitting down on the wooden sewing bench without any back support. Fortunately I no longer have to use the pedal, but still it isn’t easy, sitting down and sewing from morning. But the thing is, If I don’t do it, who else will do? Next month Liza has to go to college. What will her friends say when she wears old dresses”
I looked at my mother. I thought she believed that we should only have friends who accept us for what we are and not what we wear? Why didn’t she stitch any new dresses for me when I went to college? She didn’t even buy me a new pair of shoes and I remembered how everyone at the college laughed at me because I was wearing rubber slipper to college. Amma was working at that time. She could afford to buy me new shoes, but she didn’t. But the rules suddenly changed when Liza is going to college?
“You know aunty, I thought my daughter would help me to cook lunch, instead, do you know what she did? When she found there is nothing to eat, she took her little sister and went out to eat. She is rich, No? But, Did she buy anything for her mother? No. instead she bought Mangosteen for herself”
I regretted bringing the damn Mangosteen home. I should have eaten it with Sally. I hated Amma for making others think that I am a bad person. I hated her for the way she was treating me.I looked at my mother. Does she even know how much I hate her?
“You see the way she is staring at me? As though I am at fault here. She thinks she is perfect! She is never wrong!” Amma spoke.
I quickly looked down. I noticed the lentils on the ground. I didn’t want to clean it. But I knew if I walked off, Amma would use that as an opportunity to accuse me that I am lazy. So I took the dust pan and the broom from behind the door and bend down to sweep the floor
“Nina what are you doing?” Amma screamed
“Sweeping the floor” I screamed at her. As though she can’t see what I am doing!
“Are you crazy? Sweeping the lentils with the dirty broom? Have you gone crazy Nina?”
Crazy? Why is she mad now? I am helping her now, am I not? Then I thought may be Amma was angry because I used the broom and not the brush, we usually use to clean under the bed. Still it didn’t make sense to me.
“Amma, The lentils are already on the ground, it is already dirty! What difference does it make if I used the dirty broom or the brush?”
“See Aunty, see how she is behaving? If I wasn’t here, she would have thrown away the lentils”
“You mean you are going to use this lentils? But Amma, the lentils fell down on to the dirty floor and it is already contaminated with dirt! you are going to use it for cooking?”
Amma shook her head sadly.
“You are just so dumb Nina. So what if the lentils fell down on to the ground? All you have to do is pick it up one by one and when you want to cook it, you just have to wash it well. Don’t you have any common sense to think that far Nina?
“What kind of a doctor is she going to be?” Amma was asked the land lady.
I noticed a sarcastic kind of smile in the corner of the land lady’s mouth, the smile that asks you, which moron gave you admission to the medical college and how in the world did you pass your first year!
“Now sit down on the floor and pick up the lentils one by one. come Aunty, let us sit outside”
Amma and Aunty walked out of the kitchen. I overheard Amma whispering and telling Aunty that I was plain dumb, not at all like her other children
I knelt down and started to pick up the lentils one by one. The floor was dirty. The letils were in the midst of onion peel, coconut husk and strands of hair. It was disgusting to think that anyone would want to reuse the dirty lentils, but more than the disgust, it was the ache in my heart that bothered me.
I could not get my mother to say once that I was smart. I got admission to do medicine, I passed the first year of medicine even after going through such emotional turmoil before the exam, and unlike Maria, I still come home and take care of my mother and sisters, still I was not good enough for my mother. I was just not good enough