About a month ago, Yaya was cleaning her room and I heard this shriek followed by her frantically calling her brother’s name. Since she wasn’t calling me, I felt I will wait and see what is going on.
Her brother went to her room and I could hear both of them mumbling and things being moved.
Then I heard my son laughing .
“Mom” He screamed “You got to come and see this”
I went inside to see what is going on to find my son holding a black socks and laughing and his sister is practically bashing him and pleading with him not to tell anyone.
The story was, while cleaning her room, Yaya found ‘this’ dead rat under her bed!!!! and was getting her brother to help her remove the dead rat..
And now, nobody calls it socks anymore. Mom,where is my dead rat? is the usual dialogue each morning ( and one might wonder what my neighbours think about us)
Few days ago, I wanted to finish reading The litigators ( John Grisham) and I was a bit thirsty and thought I would make myself a cup of tea ( at 3 am!)
It was so quiet and I was trying not to make any noise while I slowly stirred the sugar and I heard this mighty crash, door being slammed, screeching, someone running to my room and then slamming the door and more screaming. (It is still a miracle how I didn’t spill my tea.)
I was frozen to the spot. For the love of mankind, I hadn’t the slightest clue what in the world was going on.
Then I heard more noise and the bhootham came to the kitchen, banging everything on her way ( Yaya is blind as a bat and a known calamity Jane and a walking disaster) and still screaming..
“Mom, what are you doing in the kitchen? Why are you awake now? Why were you not in your bed? there is a bat in my room” all in one breath
“Mom do something” She was now dragging me to her room
“wait, what bat?” I asked
“There is a bat in my room Mom” She was getting agitated by the seconds
Logically speaking, there is no chance that a bat could enter her room.
At 3 am, there is no time for logic.
So I grabbed my rolling pin for protection ( those who laugh at me will turn in to toads, I swear)
Like Poirot, we, the world famous bat exterminators armed with rolling pin opened the door slowly.
“look” Yaya pointed to the corner of her room
I switched on the light
“Mom, don’t switch on the light, she screamed
I couldn’t stop laughing, which made my child look at the bat
a piece of crepe paper , that was stuck at the end of the tape, which she has forgotten to remove after her Halloween party!!
This is one such moment I wish I had a brother, so I could ask him..
Alas, I have no brother and my blog is the next option.
My car gear box is a tad unusual
It has a plus sign after the N, then there is a S right after the D and a minus sign right underneath the S.
What does the plus, the minus sign and the S stands for?
( I know I should read the instruction manual..I am hoping someone would explain in simple terms, rather than me trying to read and understand the manual)
I come from a family that still practices some sort of Ayitham (?Untouchability)
The workers/maids/servants etc that work for members of my family still have their own plates and cups and are not allowed to use the family utensils. Their clothes are washed separately. They will be lucky if they are given a room..( often they sleep on a mat in the kitchen floor)
I have often wondered if untouchabilty is not a kind of racism? Otherwise why would it matter that the people who work for you must use a separate set of dishes? Aren’t they human?
As a child, that too a child from the upper class ( with royal family connection to boot), I never faced any sort ayitham..I followed the ayitham rules to the T..Don’t share your water bottle with others, don’t share the food, don’t play with the kids who are from lower casts. walk with your head held high..etc etc.
So it was a big shock when I was called a Madrasi by a Bihari senior at the medical college during ragging. I was so angry, My blood was boiling. How dare someone call me a Madrasi, when I am a Malayalee?( remember I was 17 yrs old then and my world knowledge and exposure was a bit limited)
But eventually the anger fizzed out. Basically there was no point trying to explain to someone that skin colour isn’t what makes one a better/worst person.
I was busy reading books.So I ignored the taunts. ( dating a north indian guy helped as well, for I was considered one of them!)
The next time I faced racism was in England.
It was a very cold winter afternoon. I was busy reading my book and missed my tram stop. So I had to walk few blocks back to my apt. ( so obviously I was in a bad mood) and this dude came and stood right in front of me and told me ” hey paki, go back to your country” I don’t think he was expecting a lecture about where Pakistan is..but he did. ( By the way, I probably would have been more cautious if he told me that today and would have walked away rather than scream at him and tell him to learn geography first before coming and insulting me)
I was called a kling couple of times in Malaysia. The first time I was with my younger sister and the guy who called us Kling ended up apologizing ( the fact that my sister was holding him by the shirt collar may have helped)
Nevertheless, you tend to ignore it after a while..
Life in Canada was a bliss..No one ever said anything to make me feel inferior..
I was a bit concerned moving to Australia.
I taught my children that they are not above or below anyone and nobody has the right to call them names.
I live in an area where I am yet to meet another Indian. But no one called me names.
Few months ago, I was driving through a construction zone ( 40k) and being the good girl that I am, I followed the speed limit. ( I am only one offence away from getting my license suspended for a good 6 months is also an added incentive to be a good girl!!) This lady driving a ute was rather agitated with the fact that I was going slow. She flashed her lights few times. But Alas,I have no intention of taking public transport for 6 months. Finally when the road became two lane, she over took me, rolled down the windows and asked me, “where did you get your license from?”
I being the smart girl that I am, asked her back ” What makes you think I have one?”
You should have seen her face.. but that was the only time anyone tried to bully me here.
So all was good..so I thought.
yesterday I picked the kids from school. My son was not looking very happy.
perhaps it was the weather, I thought ( It is getting a bit hot and my kids don’t like summer much)
I had made bubble tea for them. But that didn’t seem to improve his moods.
I wanted to ask him is everything alright?
But knowing him, I thought I would leave him alone for little while and see if he would come and tell me what is bothering him.
(Besides, I just got a copy of Rushdie’s Haroun and the sea of stories and wanted to read it)
I went to my room to read my book and few minutes later my son came to my room.
He had tears in his eyes and he told me
“Mom, someone called me a Nigger at school today”
I was shocked. It was unbelievable..
It affected my son, because he knew the word is extremely derogatory in N.America.
I hugged him and told him that I understood how it feels when someone calls you names.
I explained to him why some people have dark skin and the benefits of having dark skin.. ( No need to wear sun screen !!!!!)
I told him about the dude who had an unexpected lesson in geography. ( Mom what if he had a knife, my son asked me, well I wouldn’t be here to tell you the story then, I told him)
Apparently, my son has been told to get off the barbecue ( ie he is dark skinned because he was burned!) called a mud pud ( pudding) and his classmates were joking that when God created people he burned some of them..
I told my son, yup it is true.. God indeed burned some of them..but then he felt rather sorry and took the brain from the unburned ones and put it in the burned ones to compensate!!
My son was laughing..
I have informed the school authorities and they have taken appropriate action..
I am writing this..to ask each of you..how prejudiced are you?? What will you do when someone calls your child a name?
Yesterday, She ( my youngest) won a Rubik’s cube..for getting 100% for maths test.
Yesterday was our day to visit the library and as usual I bought the kids iced coffee.. Iced coffee is our library day treat..She brought the Rubik’s cube to the cafe and I explained how the algorithm works..which made no sense to her, but her brother understood it immediately and he wanted to have a go at it.
But No, she wouldn’t let him have it
She won it, so it was hers.
I was very annoyed with her.
I could have used my maternal rights and made her share the Rubik’s cube with her brother. But then again, she won it, so she could make that choice as to share it or not.
I did tell her that she was being a brat, especially because she was not playing with the Rubik’s cube and won’t let her brother have it.
On our way back home, she did give her brother the Rubik’s cube. And he managed to get three sides done before we reached home.
But I was still ticked off with her.
This morning, we were running late ( nothing new!!)
I got off the car for the usual, three hugs and three kisses.. ( from the time she was a baby, she asked for three hugs and three kisses, I haven’t got the slightest clue, why three?)
Then just as I was leaving, she called me and I turned to look at her. She opened her palm and I noticed that she was holding a Turkish delight chocolate in her hand.( She must have got it from the Halloween trick or treat)
She knows, I don’t normally eat chocolate, but I am rather fond of Turkish delight..
She made my day..
As you enter the drive way, the first thing you would notice was the tall mangosteen tree. It was my grandmother’s pride and joy..and folly..( it never once bore fruits !!) everyone wanted that tree to be cut off, like it was said in the bible…but my grandmother refused. She was pretty sure it was going to bear fruit one day..So the tree stayed.
As you continue to walk, you will see a row of hibiscus, then there was lilly of the valley ( the blooms smelled divine), then there was a huge Jasmine plant, just by the side of the main steps.
If I behaved, then my grandmother would make me a jasmine chain to wear on my motta thala, She made the chain in the night, sprinkled with water and wrapped it in Banana leaves, so the flowers stayed fresh till next morning.
Then you will see the trellis..blue colour..there were two huge wooden trellis that formed the living room wall. Pretty unusual design for a house. I was allowed to stand inside the house and watch the rain through the gaps in the trellis as a child. ( occasionally when no one was watching, I also climbed up the trellis to touch the ceiling!)
There were two identical rooms on either side of the living room. One for my grandmother and the other for my grandfather. My grandfather worked for the British and he was a man of few words. I was told that I inherited a lot of my quirkiness from him. He was a perfectionist. His room remained the same way, even after he died. I think my grandmother just couldn’t bring herself to change anything..
He had an easy chair made of fabric which is held on to the wooden frame by two wooden dowels. ( it was a delight to remove one of the dowels and watch the fun, when an unsuspecting sister or cousin sat on the chair..which was often followed by plenty of thrashings!!)
Of all the things in my grandmother’s house, the most unusual part was the walls of the house. The living room was painted with green kummayam, her bedroom was painted with pink kummayam. Only my grandfather’s room had white walls..the rest of the house was colourful. If you stood outside, the house looked like any other suriani kristiani homes of the 50’s..Yet it was the most colourful house inside..
My grandmother was a very short, very soft spoken woman. I don’t ever remember snuggling next to my mother as a child. But I do remember laying down with my grandmother in the afternoons, after she finished her chores..She would read the news paper and I would be reading my story book. Often I woke up to the smell of rava ladoo being made for my evening snack.
She knew, I regularly took a swipe of her nellikka wine..She would never tell my mother..It was our secret.
She never missed a single festival.. I was her accomplice. We even went to watch a drama at a school, neither of us have ever been before and after!
She cried all the way back home after watching a movie of Jesus’s Crucifixion..I remember feeling sad, not because of the Crucifixion, but because it made my grandmother sad.
My grandmother always soaked the fruits for the Christmas cake in rum on first of Nov…
I did too
To remember the good times, I also drank some of the rum..nellikka wine tasted much better