When the bell rang, I walked down the steps and waited in line to hand in my answer sheets.
“Attempted all the questions?”Prof asked when he took my answer sheets.,
“Yes sir”
“What is your name?” He asked
“Nina Thomas, sir”
“Oh Nina!” He nodded his head
Oh mannankatti! I stared at him hoping he would understand not to Oh Nina me. He was busy collecting the answer sheets from the other students. I turned to walk off. Then it occured to me, why did he say Oh Nina?
Did George tell something to him? Is he going to fail me? How do I ask him why he said Oh Nina? I turned to look at him. He was talking to Shiva Kumar. I was getting worried. George’s shadow followed me where ever I went.
I continued to walk.
Shylaja was standing by the door and when she saw me, she walked up to me and asked
“What did he say to you?”
“Prof” Shylaja was staring at me as though I am the world’s greatest idiot.
“Nothing, he asked me my name”
“How do I know?”
“hm” Shylaja grunted and walked off.
I didn’t understand what was her problem. Why does she want to know what the professor asked me? Why was she mad at me? I watched her talking to Aparna excitedly and walking towards the to the hostel.
Damn her.
“So what is your plan for the holidays?” I was startled. My heart started to pound. I turned to look and found Arjun standing right behind me. I didn’t hear Arjun walking towards me because I was so damn deaf.
I hated not being able to hear things, I hated being bossed around by my room mate and I hated my inability to stand up to my room mate and tell her to mind her own business.
“You scared me” I yelled
“You certainly have periods” Arjun was laughing
“knock it off” I yelled
“You look so damn cute when you are angry”
“Shut up” I hissed
“Oh Nina”
That was it. I was just so mad, I started to walk as fast as my legs would carry me. Away from everyone.
“Hey, hey. wait” Arjun started to follow
“entey ponnalley” Arjun called after me
What did he say? Did he actually say entey ponnalley? I was angry with him, but I was also curious.
“What did you say?” I asked him
“I said entey ponnalley, entey chakkara alley”
“Where did you learn all these?”
“Did I say it right?”
“yeah you did, but where did you learn?”
“From the mallu gang”
“You went and asked them to teach you Malayalam?”
“Oh yeah”
“Mallu gang? Which one? Mallu seniors?” I wanted confirmation
“Oh yeah Super senior Jomon and the gang”
why on earth would he have to go and ask my nemesis how to speak Malayalam?
“Why what?”
“Do you know how much trouble Jomon and the gang gives me?”
“What trouble?”
“nothing, leave it”
“I thought you would be happy that I made the effort to learn Malayalam. Do you know how hard your language is? You have to roll and roll your tongue” Arjun tried to show how to roll the tongue and he looked hilarious.
I started to laugh.
“Why are you laughing?” He asked
“no reason” I replied while trying to stop laughing.
“Get lost” It was Arjun’s turn to walk off.
entey ponnalley, entey chakkara alley” I called after him.
I wasn’t really sure why I said that. I knew I shouldn’t be angry with him for trying to learn Malayalam. He didn’t know Jomon and the gang were harassing me all the time. I never told Arjun about it. I didn’t want to be the reason for Northie Vs southie fight at the college. I was guilty for blaming Arjun for no fault of his.
Arjun stopped walking and turned to look at me. He was smiling. I realized he actually had a very beautiful smile. I also noticed he was wearing a check shirt.
‘Nah, nah nah Nina Nah, Don’t think that way’ I scolded myself.
“Go, get your bags. I will drop you home”
“ok” I spoke like an obedient child.
Aparna’s family car was parked outside the hostel entrance.
Lucky her, I thought. Every time someone from her family would come and fetch her from the hostel. I had no one.
Nah, that isn’t right. Arjun is dropping me home. Suddenly ir felt good to have someone!
Aparna’s grandmother was in the room when I entered.
She and Aparna were talking something in English and when they saw me they both started to talk in tamil.
“Hello” I greeted Aparna’s grandmother
“Hello Nina, how are you?” She asked
“I am fine patti” I replied.
I wondered if I should have spoken the whole thing in Tamil. Nah, not yet, I will have to explain where I learend Tamil.
I opened my cupboard to start packing
I heard the grandmother ask the grand daughter in Tamil and I listened to the conversation.
“Is she the one you told me about having a love affair?”
“Yes grandma” I heard Aparna reply.
“Does her parents know?”
“I think so grandma”
“hmm, Why ah? Why people come to medical college to have love affair ah?”
“Don’t know grandmother” Aparna replied
“She should learn from you na? You come from a good family, you know you are send here to study. Why didn’t you speak to her and guide her?”
I looked at Aparna. She was busy folding her clothes. How does it work? She was having an affair with Jacob and now she was acting like a goody two shoes in front of her grandmother and I was the villain?
I was so annoyed with the whole thing. I wanted to be a good person. With all the mess that I have at home, I struggled to be a good person. I wanted to be good in front of others. Some how a strangers opinion about me mattered, because I knew when the fingers start pointing, I had no defenses. Everyone would say that I am just like Amma or Maria. That ‘it’ runs in the family. I wanted to protect myself from the effects of my family.
I just wanted to cry. Instead I picked up my bag and said
“Bye Aparna, poyittu varai patti” and walked out.

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