My biggest fear in my life is that I would turn out to be like my mother.
There is nothing worst than becoming a person like my mother, because I have been at the receiving end of her wrath and I know how it feels.
Yet for a mere matter of my child losing a retainer, I acted just like her.
I know I can justify my anger by saying that December is a very expensive month for me. ( I have to buy Christmas gifts for the kids, I also have to get Mr. Nick’s gifts and then I have to send money and get my friends in India to send gifts for the kids purportedly from their loving Ammachi, so my kids continue to believe that their Ammachi loves them). I didn’t want to have additional expenses added to my fast depleting bank balance.

But the thing is, My mother too can justify her own actions.
Imagine having to raise 4 daughters all by herself.

My son is back to being the happy and cheerful ( Yaya would add Annoying) guy that he is. He told me this morning that “You are the best mother on planet earth” (Of course I made his favourite tortilla de patatas for his school lunch!)

Yet I keep looking at the letter he wrote to me and I remember sitting in my room and scribbling on every scrap piece of paper How much I hate you Amma.

I don’t want to be like my mother.

Although the part about burnt up ash did make me smile, I know I deserved the above letter from my wonderful son. I feel so guilty and my harsh words keep playing in my head.

erinja kallum Paranja vakkum..
I cleaned the closet hoping it would make me feel better..
But I still can’t understand, How could I tell my one and only son that I will chop him in to itsy bitsy tiny weeny pieces?
Obviously cleaning the closet didn’t help.
I am in no mood to update my blog..

Today I think, I shall wallow in self pity.

I hurt my son’s feelings.
Last night, I told him I will chop him in to itsy bitsy tiny weeny pieces if he lost his retainer (again).
He has been wearing a retainer for almost two years and he knows it is very expensive. He was told by his dentist not to wrap his retainer in tissue paper as tissues get thrown away. He has not one but six retainer cases.
Still he continues to wrap his retainer in a tissue and I end up going through thrash bins, because I honestly can’t afford to get a new retainer.
Am I being too unrealistic to expect some sort of responsibility from my son?
I know he is only 8 years old.
I wish I didn’t lose my temper yesterday.
But I did.
I failed.

I wasn’t hungry, but I wanted to win.
I wanted to show Amma that I won’t go hungry just because she didn’t cook anything. Those days of her trying to manipulate me with food were long gone. I wanted her to know that. I got up and went to the kitchen to see what I could cook.
There was bread.
Too cheap. I thought
I wanted a king’s feast. Nothing less than that.
What could I make? I opened all the containers to see what I could make.
It didn’t take too long for me to make my choices.
Mini Sadya!
It didn’t take too long to cook rice, rasam, payaru thoran, urulakkizhanggu mezhukkuparattii and unakkameen chammanthi.
The last one being my mother`s favourite, I decided to make it purposely.
Amma must have got the smell of me frying the salted fish, because she came out to see what I was up to.
I ignored her and continued to cook.
She stood by the door and watched me.
Go on watching mother, the more you push me, the stronger I get. I spoke in my head.
I drained the fish from the oil and kept it aside to cool.
I sliced few pieces of onion and started pounding the onion and green chillies using the pestle and mortar.
`You cut the onion too big, you won`t be able to pound it well`Amma offered valuable advice.
I knew Physics better than her.
The bigger the slices of onion, more you need to pound.
I was in a mood to make as much din as I can. There is nothing more satisfying than to keep hitting the onion with the pestle and watch it getting smashed.
Instead of scraping the coconut, I wanted to cut few chunks of coconut pieces. Amma must have understood what I was going to do.
“Give it to me. If you are so lazy to scrape the coconut, I will scrape it for you”She tried to snatch the coconut from my hand.
“Don’t” I hissed
“Don’t you dare interfere when I cook.”
“Give it to me Nina, oru panikku nooru pani undakkum”
“Didn’t you understand what I just told you? Leave me alone”
“You are stupid, do you know that?”
“Of course. That is why I passed MBBS 1 year! Even George’s smart daughter had to repeat 1st year!”
“Passing first year is not everything Nina”
“Of course not. Right now being stupid is everything ma and I am the best stupid you will ever find”
“I am not talking to you” Amma walked away.
“Good choice ma” I replied

I sat on the floor and continued to pound the green chilli, onion, coconut mix. I knew Amma was right.. that it takes an awfully long time to pound big pieces of coconut. My hands were aching.
There is no limit to stupidity anyway and I knew I would have won the first prize for the stupidest person on planet earth.

I took the corning dinner plate from the shelf( no steel plate for the king, sorry queen), served myself some rice and rasam and all the other side dishes and went to sit on my bed to eat.
I thought I would enjoy eating such a wonderful meal.
I didn`t want to, but my head didn`t listen, it turned slowly and looked at the clock.10.15pm.
My little sister was out somewhere.
I knew who else would be out in the streets at this hour
I knew my sister was naive and that she would be no match to those experienced in getting what they want.
I remembered reading somewhere how the girls from metros end up in the red light streets of Bombay.
I thought of going out and looking for my sister.
But I myself was scared. Besides where was I going to go and look for her? I had no clue where she went.
I had to call Arjun. I got up quickly to wash my hand. Then I remembered, the phone booth would have closed by 10 pm.

Amma was still her room.
I wondered if she was even concerned that her daughter is not back home.
I honestly wanted to just kill her. At least it would set my sisters free from her evil clutches.
I looked at my plate full of food.
One can cook a king`s feast.
But one must be lucky to eat a king`s feast.
I simply wasn`t lucky.
I threw the rest of my food in the rubbish bin.
I went back and lay down on my bed.
A little while later, I saw Amma going to the kitchen and taking the food I cooked.
She was more luckier than I was.
She ate the food, tidied up the kitchen, turned off the light and went back to her room. I waited for some more time before I got up and slowly opened the latch. At least my sister can open the door from outside.
Soon it was 11pm and I was sure I will be seeing my sisters photo in the Children missing program on Doordarshan.
I wondered if I had a recent photo of my sister. DD might want a passport size photo. Where was I going to get my sister`s photo?
I had no idea. I thought of going to Amma and ask her if she had any of Liza`s passport size photo?
Nah, why would she keep Liza`s photos?
I heard an auto stop in front of our house and I got up quickly and opened the main door. I saw my sister walking up the steps.
`What are you staring at me for?“ She asked
`Nothing`I replied
`Move`She ordered, as she reached the top of the stairs.
`Did you eat something?`I asked her
If she didn`t, I wanted to tell her that there is rice and curry in the kitchen.
`Get lost Nina, Don`t act goody good two shoes. I know you and I am not in a mood to talk to you`
I watched my sister going to her room and slamming the door shut. At 11.30 in the night, even a whisper can be heard outside and I wondered what my land lord would be thinking of us.
I closed the main door gently and locked.
I hated everyone.
I hated Amma
I hated Appa
I hated Maria
I hated Liza
and I hated Arjun. That idiot didn`t even bother to come and see me today.

I knew what I was going to do.

I got up early in the morning and took the first bus back to my college, knowing very well that Arjun would be coming home in the morning to pick me up.
I never knew why I do things the way I do.
But I do it irrespective of the consequences.

There was nothing to do.
Nothing worth watching on the TV.
No books to read.
No one to talk to.
There was no point going out either. Commercial street is closed on Sunday and most of the shops on MG Road will be closed for the festival.
How was I going to spend the rest of the day?
If I was at the hostel, at least I could have talked to my room mates.
I seriously considered going back to the hostel. But how will I explain if someone asks me why I came back early?

I missed Arjun. I really, really missed him. I so desperately wanted to talk to him.
Would he come today to see me? I wondered.
One part of me knew he would be busy celebrating Vinayaka Chathurthi with his family. The other part of me wanted him to come and visit me. Because I mattered too. Besides he did ask me before leaving ‘Will I see you tomorrow?’
Every time I heard a bike coming to our street, I ran to the balcony to look outside.
I knew Arjun would come.
After the fourth time I went to the balcony to see if it was Arjun, Amma gave me that look.
The mocking look.
How sad Nina, he didn’t come to see you though it is a Sunday and he should be free on a Sunday and should rightfully spend his time with his girl friend kind of look.
I pretended I didn’t see the look on her face.
I wondered why my mother thinks I am her enemy and waits for every chance to pounce on me so I get hurt.
I considered going to the phone booth and call Arjun.
But then I knew my mother would think Arjun came for a visit because I phoned him.
Damn him. Why doesn’t he want to see me?
Does he not know how crazy my life is? The least he could do is to make it less complicated. No?
‘No’ Sensible one spoke.
‘No?’ I asked her
‘He doesn’t know how complicated your life is Nina. You never told him’
Never told him?
What do I tell him?
That my mother… that my sister…?
I couldn’t tell him that. Not if I wanted him to marry me’
‘Marry? gosh Nina, I thought you didn’t love him!’ Sensible one spoke
‘Love? What has love got to do with marriage? I just want to get out of this mad house. I want to marry him, so I can leave this house.’
‘You don’t have to get married to leave this house Nina’
‘You don’t get it, Do you? I want to belong somewhere. Arjun has such a wonderful family. I want to be a part of his family.’
‘You are marrying him so you can be part of his family?’
‘yes, is there something wrong with that? Do you know his sisters never fight with each other? When his oldest sister gave birth, his sisters took turns to stay with her and help her? For them their family came first. Not something you would see in my family. Right?’
‘you have no idea what you are doing Nina’
‘Shut up’ I hissed. I knew exactly what I was doing. I rather wear tudong and eat vegetarian food than be alone.
I checked the time. 2.30 pm. I knew Arjun would be home any time now. He would have been waiting to eat lunch before coming to see me. I got up from my bed, washed my face, combed my hair.
My hair was looking funny. Few duck tails here and there. I couldn’t do anything about that. My 2nd MBBS part 1 exam will be in Jan and I had to have long hair by then. I wet my hair and tried to smoothen out all the duck tails.
Damn George. If it wasn’t for him, I could have gone and cut me hair and looked proper.
Three more years. I pacified myself. Only three more years. Then he won’t be able to touch me.

3o clock became 4 and I was sure Arjun would be here by 4.30. He must have wanted to have his tea before coming to see me.
4.30 became 5.30.
Amma came out and sat on the folding chair across my bed. She was busy doing the cross stitch.
I pretended to read my story book, cursing my own stupidity for borrowing such a horrible book. No, it was the author himself who was stupid for writing such a horrible book. Then there were stupid publishers who published such crappy books!
Every once in a while, Amma stopped stitching to change to a different colour thread. I could feel her looking at me while threading the needle.
‘You won’t see me breaking apart ma. Sorry to disappoint you. My wold doesn’t collapse if Arjun didn’t come for a visit. Besides I know he is busy celebrating with his family’ I spoke in my head.

By 7 pm, I knew Arjun wouldn’t be coming to visit me today. I was so disappointed. As much as I knew he probably wouldn’t have had time to come and see me, I was also angry with him. How could he not come and see me? I don’t live that far from his house. Do I?

I saw Liza going to the kitchen and I heard her opening the closing the pots on the gas stove.
“What is for Dinner ma?” She came out of the kitchen and asked
kuntham and kuda chakkram(? Spear and Arrow)”Amma replied
“Huh?” Liza asked
“Aren’t you ashamed? Both of you are old enough to get married and have your own family and you still expect me to cook for you? ninakkokkey nanam ennu paranja vakku adothoode enkilum poovumo?
“You don’t let us do anything in your kitchen Amma” Liza spoke
entey daivamey (my god), when did I not let you cook in my kitchen?”
“Have you forgotten? Remember our old house? Remember how you used to chase us out of your kitchen saying whenever we tried to help you by saying we give you oru panikku nooru panii(more hassle)”
how many years ago was that Liza?” Amma hissed
“If you wanted me to cook, why didn’t you tell me earlier Amma?”
“Don’t you have a stomach? Don’t you know you need food? Must I tell you to cook when you should be taking the initiative?”
“You are crazy Amma. You keep changing your rules as and when you feel like it. I can’t wait to get out of this house”
Liza went to her room and slammed the door.
Few minutes later she came out wearing jeans and t shirt.
“Where are you going at this time of the day?” Amma asked Liza
“Who are you to ask me that?” Liza asked Amma
“I am your mother” Amma spoke
“Then perhaps it is time you acted like one”
Amma got up from the chair and tried to block Liza’s path.
“You are not going out at this time of the day Liza. it is late”
“Try stopping me” Liza pushed Amma to the side , took the key from the key holder, opened the door and walked out.
“Don’t bother coming back home” Amma yelled
“Get lost” Liza yelled as she ran down the stairs.
Amma slammed the main door shut and locked it.
I looked at her wondering when would she finally be happy?
She destroyed chechy’s life, have been trying to destroy my life and now it was Liza’s turn.
There was only one thing I could do.
I closed my eyes and prayed
Please, who ever you are, Krishna, Jesus or Whatever is your name, Please keep my sister safe. Please don’t let anything happen to her.

“So, you are going to marry Arjun?” Liza asked
“Why? You are asking me why? You should know why!”
“No Seriously Liza, Why do you think I am going to marry Arjun?”
“Come on, even a blind man can see you are in love with him”
“No, I am not”
I thought of asking her how can a blind man see?. But that wasn’t the point.
“You are living in denial!” She replied
“No I am not. Arjun is my classmate and he is also my friend”
“And the sun rises from the west”
“May be” I replied.
“You know Nina, I Can’t wait to see you wearing a tudong (head scarf)”
“I am not going to wear a tudong
“Yeah Right. You always loved wearing tudong. Remember wearing Amma`s brown underskirt over your head and tying the string under your chin? Remember? 4th grade? Remember ‘Mother Nina’?
I looked at my sister and we both started to laugh.
Of all the things on planet earth, I dreamed of joining a convent and becoming a nun!! How could I even think like that?
“What made you even think of wanting to join the convent?”My sister asked the same question I was asking myself.
“Don’t know. I thought the nuns were happy and I wanted to be happy like them, I guess”
“Happy? Nuns? More like frustrated, you idiot!”
“Shut up”
“hang up”
“Give up”
“Get up”
“Keep up”
“Throw up”
I couldn’t think of any more words ending with up. We used to play this game when we were little.
“You lost” Liza spoke
“Yeah” It no longer felt awful when I lost a game to my sister.
Perhaps I really grew up.
It was fun thinking of all the weird things we used to do as children. Playing passing the secret,(which I always lost because no one knew I was deaf that time), L-O-N-D-O-N game, Jumping jacks. Snake and ladder, Lexicon cards.
“Have you seen the lexicon cards?” I asked Liza
“I think Amma kept it in her cupboard so she could give it to her first grand child”
“You want to play?”
“Go, get the cards” I ordered
“You want to play, you go get the cards”
“Why can’t you get the cards?”
“Why can’t you?” Liza asked
“Because you are sitting down and I am laying down. it is easier for you to get the cards”
Liza lay down next to me on my bed.
“Get off my bed” I yelled. Mostly because I was annoyed with her for not getting the cards.
“I don’t have to”
“Yes, you have to. This is my bed”
“No it isn’t. It is every one’s bed. Appa got these mattress for all of us, so it is ours”
“No it is mine. Amma gave it to me”
“No she didn’t. You just use it because there is no other mattress for you and you don’t want to sleep in Amma’s room on Sally’s bed.”
“Get out” I kicked my sister.
I was really angry with her, not because she lied, but because she spoke the truth and I didn’t like it.
It hurt when I am told that I own nothing. Everything I have belongs to others. Even my stupid bed.
“You kicked me. How dare you?” Liza kicked me twice on my feet.( we strictly followed 1:2 ratio) Her toenails scratched my ankle and it was painful.
I wanted to kick her hard and hurt her for hurting me.
But I knew that wasn’t the solution.
I got up from my bed and walked towards the toilet
“Loser” Liza yelled
I didn’t reply.
What would I say to something that I knew was the truth.

“Are you coming?” Amma asked
“To the church” Amma sounded so exasperated. Couldn’t I figure out if she was wearing a silk saree on Sunday morning then perhaps she was going to the church?
“Why not?”
Well, there were plenty of reasons why I didn’t want to go to church. But I knew Amma wouldn’t be interested in hearing any of my reasons.
“I don’t have to go to the church to pray Amma. Didn’t Jesus say where two or three come together in my name, then I am among them?”
Amma looked at me to see where I was going with my creative revelation.
“Liza is here and I am here, that is two already Ma, so Why go all the way to the church and look for Jesus, when I can have Jesus right here?”
I braced for Amma’s usual outburst spiced with her legendary curses.
She stared at me for what felt like an eternity.
I wondered did I for once managed to have the last word?
Amma took the umbrella and her handbag and started to walk towards the main door. She whispered slowly
“One day you will learn Nina! I hope to God that you won’t have to pay a heavier price Nina”
Yeah right. Divine retribution.
The basis of religious propagation.
Heavier Price!
What do I have that was worth losing?
I owned nothing.
Failing MBBS?
When there are people like ‘daddy’ who has been writing MBBS final exam for 10 years, I knew I will eventually pass MBBS, even if it takes a decade.
Hmm. That was a tricky question.
Would I be upset if I lost Arjun?
I wanted to be able to say No, because I was sure I didn’t love him. But I couldn’t.
‘You love him Nina’ Sensible one spoke
‘No I don’t’
I couldn’t have loved him, because I still loved Beautiful Eyes and I knew one day we can clear all the confusion and be together.
One day.
May be the day after tomorrow, or the day after that
But definitely one day.
I was sure of that.
But Arjun, where do I place him?
All I ever wanted was someone to love me and I thought my life would be perfect when that happens.
So here I was, being loved by one guy and in love with another and at risk of losing both (and end up as the dreaded spinster)
‘Feet in two boats, feet in two boats’ Sang sensible one
‘Shut up’ I yelled.
“Are you ok Nina?” Liza yelled from her room
“What?” I yelled back
“who were you talking to?” Liza came out her room and was looking at me.
“Are you crazy? I wasn’t talking to anyone. You think I am mad or what?”
Liza looked at me and then spoke
“May be someone was talking downstairs”
“May be” I agreed.
” So where did Amma Maharani go?”Liza asked
“Oh! Why?”
“Who knows? Must be missing Mallu company”
“Yeah, She needs to let others know that her oldest daughter bought her own apartment”
“Have you seen Chehcy’s place?”
“Nah, I am not interested”
“come on Nina, you know very well.”
Of course I knew, but a part of didn’t want my sisters to hate Maria
ee rakthathil enikku pankilla(Pontius Pilate” I am innocent of this man’s blood” Liza spoke while pretending to wash her hands.
I didn’t say anything.
Just wished that my sister would understand what she was doing.

Current song stuck in my head. Here

There is nothing more terrifying than to open the car hood and gawk at all those monster cables and whatnots inside that the learned ones call engine compartment.

Now that winter is almost here and I need to winterize my car.

Since I don’t know what/where is a radiator and am not inclined to wanting to learn it, I must therefore go out and get somebody to flush the radiator fluid or whatever, So my car will behave when the temperature drops to minus degrees.
Why life is so complicated, I will never know.
But life has to go on.

Oh by the way, if anyone here knows how ‘creation’ is explained in Hinduism, do let me know.
Will update tomorrow