Heights of Procrastination..

Tax returns are due today… and as usual.. I have left it for the last minute..
I never learn.. Do I?

There was a brief moment of silence. Like the calm before the storm. May be this was the moment when truth had a chance to be understood and accepted.
Amma was staring at me, so was Maria. I waited for Amma to ask Maria
“Is it true?”
“You destroyed this family” Amma spoke
Phew! Amma finally understood what was going on and she was going after Chechy. I was just about to say ‘Finally you understood the truth!” When I realized Amma was pointing her finger at me and yelling
“You destroyed this family Nina. I wish I never gave birth to you”
“What? What did I do?” My voice sounded squeaky. I didn’t like the sound of my own voice. I wondered what happened to my real voice.
“What you didn’t do? vallaventeyum koodey karanggi nadanno. (roaming with strangers!) You are such a bad example to my daughters. You forget that you have younger sisters. You are supposed to be a role model for them and look at you! pezha! How could you come out from my belly? How could I give birth to a daughter like you?”
I didn’t know what to say. What could I say?
I wanted to ask Amma what role model was Maria playing? How could she agree to what Maria was doing and hate me? What did I do so wrong for my mother to hate me this much?
enthadi, nintey navu eranggi poyo? (swallowed your tongue?)”
I wanted to tell her that I am not sleeping with anyone. I wanted to tell her that I was out the whole day, but I wasn’t with anyone. I went to the library and to the park, that was it. I wanted to tell her that it was she and her wonderful older daughter, who were showing bad example to my younger sisters. But the words never came out of my mouth. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t humiliate myself anymore.
“I am sending Sally to the boarding school. Hopefully she can be saved from your bad influence. ee nashicha kudumbathil ninnu avalenkilum rakshapettottey! (at least she would be able to escape from this mad family)” Amma spoke
It all came back to me. So that was the master plan everyone was discussing behind my back.
“I am going with valia chechy(big sister). You are such a bad influence for me. I wish I never had a sister like you” Sally came out of the room holding her back pack.
“Oh God” Words came out of my mouth even before I had a chance to think. I wasn’t supposed to call God, I didn’t believe in God. But at that moment, I didn’t feel ashamed of myself for calling out for God. I was losing my baby sister. And I knew who was waiting for her on the other side.
“Come valia chechy(big sister) let us go. I don’t want to stay here anymore” Sally spoke
“Sally don’t” I reached out to hold her hand. “Please don’t go”
“Don’t touch me. I am forced to leave this house because of you. I hate you Nina. I absolutely hate you” Sally hissed.
Her words pierced my heart like a 1000 arrows.
How could she talk to me like that? Have I not loved her enough? Have I not taken care of her? Even when I had no money to spend, I still bought her Enid Blyton books..
Where did I go wrong? Maria never even bothered to do anything for her and she loves Maria more than me? Why?
Why? Why? Why? I wanted the answer.
There was no answer. No one ever told me why and I was sick of blaming Karma for everything.
I watched Maria holding Sally’s hand. “Come baby girl, let us go”
Baby girl? That was nice, coming from someone who didn’t even go to the hospital to see her new born baby sister.
“Chechy, will you help me carry my bags to the car?” Sally asked Liza.
Only then did I notice Liza standing next to Amma.
“Sure, baby girl” Liza spoke.
I felt a tinge of jealousy. Not because Sally called Liza, Chechy and Liza called her baby girl. I felt jealous because no one ever bothered to help me carry my bags. I remembered the time I came back from Dubai and how both my sisters refused to carry my bag for me.
“Bye Amma” Sally hugged Amma
Amma didn’t say anything. She just hugged Sally
“Bye Chechy. I will miss you” She hugged Liza.
She walked in front of me as though I didn’t exist. I never did exist in anyone’s life did I?
I wanted to cry. But then I felt, what for should I cry? I didn’t do anything wrong. I did what ever I was supposed to do. I did my duty and I won’t cry. But still tears started to well up in my eyes. I didn’t want anyone to see me crying. So I walked to the balcony.
I saw the driver opening the trunk. Amma was helping Liza to to lift the bags and place them in the trunk. I watched Sally hugging Amma again.
Did I do it? Did I make my younger sister leave out house? Am I the reason why she had to leave Amma and go and stay at a boarding school? Am I?
I knew I didn’t so anything. May be I did. I shouldn’t have let Arjun drop me home. I should have thought that I had sisters. Why didn’t I? Why was I so selfish? I hated myself. I wished I was never born. I wished Amma had never given birth to me. See what I am doing to my sister? She had to leave home because I was such a bad person.
Sally looked up and saw me standing at the balcony. She looked away. Maria opened the door for her and she got inside the car.
I watched Amma wiping her eyes.
Maria closed the door and the driver started the car.
There were things I needed to tell Sally.
I wanted to tell her how much I love her.I wanted to tell her I am sorry for being a bad example, sorry for being so selfish, sorry for making her leave home. But more than all that I wanted to tell her to take care. I wanted to tell her not to be alone with George.
I had to tell her that. I thought of running down the steps and talk to Sally. But it was too late. I watched the car taking a left turn in to the main road. The ladies at the Marwari house were watching us, so did the people at the shops. I saw Amma closing the gate.
Standing there on the balcony, I felt empty, as though I lost a part of me and There was nothing I could do.
Then I remembered. I closed my eyes and prayed
“Lord Please keep my baby sister safe” and the tears started to roll down my cheeks.

The Chat seller near the MG Road and Kamaraj Road junction had already set up his stall. I was hungry and I was tired. I knew if I ate food from the street vendor I sure would have diarrhoea. I looked at the round pooris in the shelf. Small tiny pooris, all same size and puffed up. The pooris looked at me invitingly.
The seller was busy cutting onions and his assistant was washing the plates in dirty water. I looked at the pooris again.
“Yes Madam” The seller was looking at me.
Should I or not?
Nah, it is not worth it. It is not worth falling ill. Besides I knew Amma would have cooked something for me.
“Nah it is ok” I shook my head and started to walk.
There were lots of people waiting to cross the road and the police man was trying his best to control the traffic. My stomach was growling.
I heard the sensible one asking
‘Who are you kidding Nina? You really think your mother would keep some food for you?’
She was right. Absolutely right. I turned quickly and almost bumped in to a middle aged lady. I heard her swearing. I was too hungry to bother.
I ordered a plate of Bhel poori. There was no place to sit and I had books in my hand. I walked to the back of the shop and kept the books on my feet and leaned against the fence and started to eat the food. My spoon was bend to one side and the handle was dirty. I pretended I didn’t see it.
I looked at all the people standing near me and eating the food. Most of them were men and from their clothes it was obvious they belonged to the low income group trying to make a living in Bangalore. I didn’t belong there, Did I? My father worked for British Government. My sister is an IIT graduate and I am a medical student. What was I doing here?
Some of the men were looking at me, as though they have never seen a woman in their life. I looked down and again noticed the dirt on the spoon handle. I didn’t want to eat the food. But I was hungry. I could have gone to Mac’s. But Amma needed new spectacles.
There was a little bit of yogurt by the side of the plate. I used the spoon and scraped the yogurt and ate it. The yogurt was thick and creamy, not at all like Amma’s. Her yogurt had two layers. Milk solids on top and whey at the bottom.
‘Don’t forget the worms’ Sensible one spoke
‘Oh yes the worms too’ I agreed.

I gave my plate to the sellers assistant and walked away quickly.
I could see in my mind all those guys standing there and eating and the seller’s assistant washing those plates in dirty water. The water must have had every one’s saliva.
Yuck! I wanted to vomit. I felt dirty.
I was angry with myself. Why did you eat there Nina? I asked myself.
Because I was hungry and there wouldn’t be anything to eat at home.
But you could have cooked something?
It was true. I could have.
I could hear Amma talking
“pathirupathu vayassai, ippolum thalla vechu vilambanam”
Amma was right. I was a lazy person. I had to change.
I decided, I will help Amma in the kitchen. Anyway I have three weeks of holidays, I might as well do something good. I walked back home.
As soon as I turned left from the main road, I saw the white Ambassador car parked in front of the house.
I clenched my fist to prevent my hands from shaking.
I will throw that bastard out this minute. I ran all the way. I noticed the driver was still sitting inside the car. I opened the gate and ran up the steps. I intended to throw him out. How dare he visits my house? Did I not tell him the last time that he can’t come to our house? Has he got no shame?
Shameless bugger.
The door was open and I marched in.
Maria was sitting on my bed, going through my back pack. I looked around to see where his holiness was. I couldn’t find him. Then I remembered my bag
“What are you doing with my bag?” I tried to snatch the back pack from Maria’s hand. She was holding it tight.
“Give it back Maria” I yelled
Maria still held on the strap of the bag and I started to pull. I knew the bag will tear any moment. “Let go off my bag Maria, it is going to tear”
Maria started to pull the stuff out of my bag.
“Stop it” I yelled. “How dare you” I let go the bag and tried to put the clothes back in the bag. Maria pulled the bag away from me.
Amma was standing by the kitchen door
“Can you tell her to give my bag back” I asked Amma.
Amma pretended she didn’t hear me.
I watched in horror as my sister started to pull all the clothes and books out of my bag. She even flipped the pages of my text book to see if I have anything hidden inside the books.
I had nothing to hide. I knew my sister was always checking my personal belongings. That is why I had asked Beautiful Eyes to keep all the cards and gifts he has got for me in his room.
After the inspection my sister looked up.
I thought she looked ugly. She wore bright red lipstick and purple eye shadow!
I thought of asking her ‘Have you looked at the mirror recently? You look like a slut!’
“Where were you?” Maria asked
“pardon me” I stared at her trying to figure out what exactly was she hoping to hear from me
Our relationship had became more formal as we grew up.
“Mother said you went out in the morning” She replied
Mother? Wow, even Amma and Maria were becoming very formal.
“Yeah, I went out”
I thought of saying ‘just over there’, but that dialogue no longer had any effect.
“MG road”
“What is your issue?” I asked
“I asked you why you went to MG road?”
“Who are you to ask me that?”
“See, I told you, she has been acting very rude lately” My mother spoke. I looked at Amma and at my sister. I wanted to go to my room and shut the door, away from these two mad women. But I didn’t have a room. The living room was my room and the couch was my bed.
“What were you doing outside from 9.45 till now” My sister rephrased the question.
“Again, who are you to ask me that?”
nee pezha adi”( my sister spoke)
I couldn’t stop grinning
“That is new coming from you” I replied
“What do you mean? Maria got up from the bed and even Amma came towards me
Two against one.
Two women who had so much in common against me.
Who were they kidding?
“You think I am a fool?” I asked. I took a step back, just to make sure that if they decided to hit me, I still have enough room to protect me.
pareyedi, njan enna thetta cheythathu? (tell me what have I done wrong?” Maria spoke. She sounded so much like Amma
I wanted to tell her. But how could I? I knew what she was doing, but it was so humiliating to even utter it.
“I know about you and Acha” I spoke finally. I wanted Maria to know that I knew the truth. I wanted Maria to know that, even if Amma refused to see what is going on, I can see, that I ain’t blind, that I ain’t stupid, that she has gone too far.
“What do you know, huh? huh? huh?” Maria was panting like a rabid dog
I didn’t bother to reply. If she was going to act dumb, so be it.

“Acha and what?” Maria asked. She was holding my wrist and I pushed her away.
I heard Amma speaking
“She is jealous Maria, ignore her”
I thought of telling Amma, I would have to be brain dead before I feel jealous about what my sister was doing. But my mother was already brain dead, what was the point in telling her? Which mother could stand there and ignore the truth? Only a dead one!


Well, here I am..back to the same old routine..
Going to India had to be one of the best decisions I had made in a long while..And it was even more pleasant because of my blog pals who made sure that I had a good trip.

If it wasn’t for Tinker bells and her family, Bala, Gurmeet and T&K it would have been next to impossible to have visited all the places I wanted to visit

Things we did
1. Visited Ravi Varma art Gallery. When I was 7 years old my father had taken me to the same art gallery and I wanted to take my kids and show them Ravi Varma’s paintings.
I was extremely disappointed with the way the art gallery is run. Ravi Varma is one of the greatest artist from India, How ironic that his paintings are kept in a leaky old building with zero maintenance?
It is a shame that the paintings by such a talented artist has been left to rot ! ( I know I shouldn’t hope, but still..Isn’t there anyone out there who cares?)

One intelligent person( I shall not name for fear of more “peeppi“) decided to buy three “peeppi” for the kids from the vendors in front of the zoo. They played their peeppi till sun set!

2,fed the fish at Aruvikkara dam.
Kids really enjoyed watching the fish gobbling up all the nuts.

3. Visited Ponmudi..
the drive reminded me of the roads in East Malaysia ( Tambunan- Ranau highway!!)

3. Visited Kovalam. I had packed the swim suits for the kids..but they didn’t even bother to change. I ended up buying tee shirts from the street vendors!!

Kovalam has been voted ( number 2) as one of the 10 places to visit before you die and I wanted to take my kids there..That is done!!

4. Visited the back waters of Kochi.
Saw cheena vala

5. Visited Mattancherry

6. Attended the wedding. Met most of my family members, including cousins whom I haven’t seen for quarter of a century!

7. Visited Cherai beach. The sun set was absolutely beautiful.

8. From Kochi we went to Bangalore. I didn’t have any guide book of Bangalore,because I was sure I didn’t need it. After all I studied in Bangalore and I spoke fluent Kannada!
Well, I was lost from the time I came out of the airport! There were no fly overs when I was studying in Bangalore and the only Kannada word I could remember was enu ree( ok lah 2 words!). Eventually the driver informed me that he knows to speak in English.
We stayed at a service apartment and my kids refused to leave the room. After the hot and muggy Kerala weather, they enjoyed the air condition in the room.
It was Ugadi and most of the shops were closed. We went to Brigade road and had lunch at Shangri la.
There were a lot of things I wanted to do in Bangalore. There is a special place that I need/want to visit. In one of the books Ruskin Bond had written about passing through Deoli each and every time en route to Dehra and never wanting to break the journey there and look for the basket seller of Deoli..I guess it is the same with me..May be one day I will stop over and visit..

9. From Bangalore we went to Delhi.
Hired a cab and visited Taj Mahal. Words can never describe the beauty of Taj Mahal.. But the annoying tour guides and the photographers for sure made life miserable. I just wanted to be left alone, but that is never possible if you are visiting any major tourist attractions in India. One persistent tour guide walked almost half way with us.
10. Visited Fatehpur sikri and visited the tomb of Salim Christi. I had read about making a wish a tying a knot at the door of the tomb. I gave a thread each to my kids and we all made our wish. I asked them what they wished for
Yaya wished for an environmentally friendly India. She was cribbing about the way people were throwing thrash every where
Toothless wanted to be able to use the talents God has given him wisely.
Baby wished for peace on earth.
I was really taken aback when I heard what they wished for. I was expecting them to wish for PS3 games or things like that.
I was a bit embarrassed because unlike them I wished for something.(Shhh. I am not telling).

11.We also visted Delhi Haat, Khutub Minar and the lotus temple.

12.Attended Usha Uthop Concert organized by Delhi Malayalee Association.( Baby wanted to know why that guy was wearing a saree!!!)

13.Did a little bit of shopping and bought gifts for friends.
Yaya bought Nancy Drew books and lots of bangles
Toothless bought R K Narayan books
Baby bought Twinkle books.
Mama bought a Razai.. there is a story behind my love affair with Jaipuri Razai.. One day I will write about it.

My biggest fear was kids falling ill.. Fortunately that didn’t happen.
I am just so glad that I decided to attend the wedding. Next time I will stop over in Kottayam and may be Kolar!