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.