“Hey guys, coming for dinner?” Anitha pushed the door opened and entered my room. She looked around and then looked at me.
“Where is Aparna and Shylaja?” She asked
“They have gone for dinner”
I looked at her hoping that she might ask me to join her. I didn’t want to go to the mess alone, for I knew everyone would stare at me. By now everyone would have known about Dr. Gopal episode.
If she was looking for company then that means she too didn’t want to go to the mess alone. Anitha must have thought the same thing.
“I better hurry” She spoke and left without even bothering to close the door.
I got up to close the door and noticed few of the juniors standing outside and eating milk pedas.
It isn’t very often we get dessert with our meals at the hostel. That too beginning of the new semester. I looked at my watch. 8.10 PM. I figured If I don’t hurry, I may not get the sweets.
Anything for a bite of milk pedas! (kothichi paru) Even if it meant becoming the center of attraction at the mess hall.
Anitha, Aparna, Shylaja and few others were sitting at the corner table. Someone must have noticed me walking in and let the other know. Suddenly they were all too busy looking down on the food in their plate.
Making eye contact was dangerous. What if I saw the friendliness in their eyes and decided to join them?
I took my food and the milk peda and went and sat on the other side of the mess hall. There was an old kannada newspaper on the table and I took the paper, so I could read while I ate.
Sadly I didn’t know how to read kannada. Instead I looked at all the photos in the paper. There were few photos of Veerendra Patil, CM of Karnataka. I wondered if he too was in George’s pocket because George used to boast about Hegde, Patil’s predecessor being his puppet.
if the CM of Karnataka was in George’s pocket then what hope do I have?
I folded the paper quickly and kept it away. I didn’t want to think about unnecessary stuff that was surely going to spoil my mood.
But I couldn’t stop thinking.
George and Gopal Vs Nina Thomas.
I wondered how old Dr. Gopal was. Probably in his mid 40’s. That meant he would be teaching at least for another 15 years before he retires.
19 + 15.
I will be 34 before I pass 2nd year MBBS.
I pushed the plate away, took the sweet from my plate and walked out of the mess.
My world was ending. I had no future if I don’t pass medicine. My father was not going to pay for my never ending education, if I have to wait for Dr. Gopal to retire.
How was I going to get out of this mess?
Should I go and see him tomorrow and ask him why he was treating me like this?
Nah, that is what he and George wants me to do.
They want to see me begging.
But I was Methran Thambi’s grand daughter. We never beg.
“Nina Thomas phone call for you” I heard someone shouting.
Phone call for me?
There was only one person who called me at this time. I ran as though my feet were on fire. My heart was pounding with excitement. There was so much I needed to tell him. But first I will apologize for all the misunderstanding, I thought. I will skip the class tomorrow. To hell with Dr.V.D.N and surgical rounds.
I picked up the phone and said the most Cheery “Hello”
There was a few seconds silence
“nee evidarunnu ethrem neram ( where were you till now)?”
“Where did you go? vallavanteyum koodey karanggi thendi nadanno. This is the third time I am calling you”
“What do you want Amma?”
There was no point trying to explain to my doubting mother that I just went to the mess to have my dinner. Besides where I go or what I do was none of her business.
“Why is your voice sound different? Were you crying? Is everything ok?”
“What do you want Amma?” I screamed.
I didn’t want to scream at her. I wanted to tell her what I was going through. I wanted to tell her What her wonderful brother is doing to me. But for all I knew, her wonderful brother could be the one who was making her phone me. Just to check how broken I was.
“Scream at your mother. That is all you are good for”
I didn’t reply. This conversation wasn’t going anywhere.
“Did you get money from Appa?”
” Milkman is also asking for last month’s money. He may not give us milk if we don’t pay and you are a doctor and you know your sister needs to drink milk, if she has to excel in sports “
“athinu njan enna venam ( why is it my business)?” I was so angry. Where was I going to get the money to pay all these expenses?
Why do I have to pay? Parents are supposed to provide for their children. Not the other way around.
“How dare you talk like that? You also drank the milk. How many times you made tea when you were here for your holidays? ellam anggu marannu alley? ninney okkey prasavicha enney venam thallan (I should be beaten for giving birth to ungrateful wretches like you)”
“I am not working Amma. Why don’t you ask Chechy for money?”
“athonnum enney kondu pattathilla.( I simply can’t do it).Phone bill is going up. Bye”
Amma put the phone down.
I kept the receiver back on the cradle and leaned against the wall.
Methran Thambi’s grand daughter now had to beg money from Arjun not only to pay for the milk, but also for the phone call her mother just made. That too would be on my account at the phone booth.