I completed 3 years of living in Australia and am eligible for Aussie citizenship next year..It kind of feels odd..that I am living in a country I vowed I will never even visit ( because of the detention centers for illegal immigrants). I came here because I wanted to live in all the continents..

But what is the price for a comfortable life?

Most of the time I forget to lock the doors of my home and I live alone with my children..I can go for walks in the middle of the night without having to worry about my safety. I can buy food products confidently without having to worry about it being adulterated. I can send my children to a govt school without having to worry about the quality of education. and most importantly I will have old age security
I gave up on my ideals for the Clear Blue skies, clean air, clean water, and clean beaches and for a comfortable life

And some nights I wonder.. what do I stand for?



Sometimes I put my foot in my mouth !!!

Now that it is almost summer and the nights are warm and stifling, I go for midnight walks..
Yesterday Yaya decided to come along because she too couldn’t sleep.
The walk for me is to enjoy the peace and tranquility..
The walk for my child is to talk and talk..
She talked and talked and I hummed and hummed and nodded my head with my mind somewhere very far..
Then she said  “Mom, guess what?”
The normal rule of thumb is, the moment any of my children say ‘guess what?’ I listen and give my full attention, for it is something important..
But at 12.30 AM. no rule of thumb worked.
“Mom, I got my QAT ( Queensland Assessment Task tests run by the education dept)results and I got A+ for maths and science. I can’t believe I got an A+”
And her wise mother replied” Neither can I”
I really don’t know why I said that and I really didn’t mean it”

But the walk back was very silent..No amount of apologies seemed to have worked..

My advice to my children..

I raised them following Gibran’s poem on children..It probably was the most hardest thing to do, to accept that my children are not mine..I carried them in my womb and gave birth to them and raise them. but I don’t own them.

On Children

 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Yaya will be going away to Spain next week. I know I raised her well and that she is a confident young woman…(I wish I could say young girl..because she will always be my little girl, but the little girl only resides in my memories)
But this trip is the beginning of her life away from me..
I don’t have any wise words of wisdom to tell my children. ( I wish I was smart and knew what to say to my child when she is standing on the thresh hold that separates a child holding her mother’s hand to a young woman standing alone)
I thought and thought as to what should be my advice to her
and I chose this

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.


When we stayed in Kottayam, Amma  sublet a part of our house to a Tamil Brahmin family. The guy was a manager for some factory and his wife was a simpleton. Their daughters stayed back in their village in Tamil Nadu and was looked after by the grandparents.
My mother hated them…
I have always wondered why Amma hated them so much..yet allowed them to stay in our house..

What I remember the most about the couple was the sound of pooja bell ringing first thing in the morning along with the usual sounds from the kitchen of food being prepared.  He left for work at 6.45 AM and from then till he came back at 4.30, there was absolutely no sound. I don’t know what the wife did all day, she had no radio, TV or books. She didn’t do any embroidery or things like that. She didn’t have friends and didn’t have any visitors.
My mother felt, if the woman had worked hard in her life and got herself a precious education, then she wouldn’t have to sit at home alone all day.. “Wasted life”, amma used to mutter..
But the evenings were always different. Her husband came back holding a parcel always.. ( mullappoo/jasmine flowers)
even if you didn’t see the husband returning from work, But you would know when he is back from work. You could hear the laughter..
Their laughter drove my mom nuts. “what is there to laugh so much? Have they gone mad” she would mutter.
No one laughed in our house, so I used to wait for the man to hear the sound of was so soothing to the know that it is ok to laugh.. that you can still find a reason to smile and laugh even if you studied only till 8th standard and sit at home all alone all day.

The second thing I remember about them was the second bedroom in their part of the house. They used it as a store room. On one side of the room there were two old sarees hung to hide something behind. The lady showed us what is behind..two shelves full of pots and pans..all brand new..there were also two suitcases there both  identical, both held few pattu saree ( silk sarees).. The pots, pans and the sarees were bought and kept for the daughters..for the day they get part of their dowry..
By the time they started renting our place, she had already bought enough pots and pans one pot at a time for her daughters, She was now collecting sarees for saving a bit of money every month and when there is a sale, buy a new saree..
My mother smiled and  told her “what a brilliant idea” when she showed us the collection of pots and pants and when we were back in out part of the house, she commented ” pillarellam chathu poyal ( if the daughters died)what are you going to do with all the pots and pans? besides the sarees would all be old fashioned by the time the daughters get married”

I don’t know what happened to the couple. He managed to get a transfer back to Tamil Nadu and they left. But I am sure, when the daughters got married, their mother must have stood there very proudly because she would have been able to give her daughters a head start in life with a well equipped kitchen and wardrobe.. even though she herself only studied until 8th std and her husband was just an ordinary manager in an ordinary factory..

The joy…

Someone once said “it takes a whole village to raise a child”
I am a mother of three children with no family support, no cultural ties to any particular country and absolutely no religious belief,
I worry often if I am doing the right thing.
I don’t have a whole village to back me up in my role as a mother.. and I worry and I worry..
Have I made the right decisions?
How would the choices I make affects my children?

One of the major issue was my son’s tendency to read books during class. ( I have done it all through medical college, but not in grade 7).
A part of me feels what he is doing is wrong..He has been send to school to study, not to read story books during class.
There was absolutely no way I could stop him from reading.
He reads mostly during English class because he finds the lessons really boring.

He had to write an assignment on Ned Kelly last Friday.
This is what he wrote.

He showed it to me when I went to pick him up.
You know how it feels to read a brilliant piece work? My heart danced with joy when I read what he wrote..
Every day is a struggle raising my son.. but the fringe benefits are spectacular..

Fear and intimidation

As a child I suffered from insomnia, but at that time I didn’t know that there was something wrong with me.
What I remember about those days were the fear I felt. I remember laying down in my bed and listening to every little sound that to me sounded like the giant steps of the  bhootham (bogeyman).
The shadows of leaves moving in the wind were nothing but the bogeyman waiting there to come and catch me and eat me alive. I wondered if I would be eaten alive and if so, then would I be like Jonah in the whales’ tummy? I spend agonizing hours trying to figure out if it is better to be eaten alive or killed first and then shredded to bits and eaten. I worried if it was the latter how my parents would feel when they wake up and find my bones licked clean by the bogeyman. How would they bury me?
Sometimes I would feel so thirsty, but my limbs wouldn’t move for fear of attracting the attention of the bogeyman hiding behind the door/inside the cupboard/under my bed.
The bogeyman was created by mother to instill fear in me and make me listen and follow her rules. If I didn’t, then the bogeyman came to devour me at night.

I am 41and I know there is no bogey man. Sometimes I forget to close the chook cage in the evening and it would occur to me in the middle of the night that I didn’t close the cage. Though I know there is no such thing as bogeyman and that if I switch on the floodlight, I can see all of the back yard, I still can’t bring myself to go out and shut the chook cage..and the morning after, the first thing I do is to hold my breath and run to the chook cage and do a head count. I know there will be a day the fox will get my chooks and I will not forgive myself when that happens.. but the fear of something so unreal is very much real.

I was determined to raise my children without instilling bogeyman/pillarey piduthakar ( child snatchers) pishashu ( devil himself)..
If they are thirsty, they can go to the kitchen without fear and  get some water. If they need to use the washroom, they can without having to check behind the door to make sure that the bogeyman isn’t hiding there.

I was thinking of how to deal with my son..and wondered how my mother would have handled the situation.
She would have used something that instilled fear for sure. Most likely religion..And I couldn’t. First of all I am a practicing atheist and secondly I wouldn’t have had any answers to ” really mom? did you not read that the jails are full of priests arrested for paedophilia and you are telling me it is a sin to watch porn”
I couldn’t try the cultural basis either for surely I would be asked if I had heard of Kamasutra.

I couldn’t really try emotional blackmail either for I am a doctor and I studied human development. sexuality and behaviour.

There was no point trying to enforce censorship guidelines at home when I know he has free reign at his school and when he meets his friends after school etc. I refuse to fight a losing battle.

All I could do was to sit and talk to my son..I told him ” there is a time for everything, don’t rush through your childhood because it is a one way street. Sex will happen eventually..and that whatever he feels..the attraction of looking at a girl etc are normal”
There were so many things left unsaid..
But I guess between the choice of instilling fear of the unknown..and being honest.. I chose the latter..


A  bit of back ground..Every alternate week, the school where my children used to attend in Canada had a popcorn day..50 cents for a packet of popcorn..something every kid could afford and the school could raise funds for the much needed play ground equipments. All three of my kids missed the popcorn day when we came to Australia, especially my son who loved the Dill pickle flavour popcorn.

So every now and then my kids talk about popcorn..and how much they miss Canada..

And recently my son was talking to Yaya and I heard him say “Jake ( not his real name) watches a lot of popcorn”
I thought I heard it wrong..You eat popcorn..not watch..
But something about that conversation wasn’t right..and I asked him..
“What do you mean”
and he replied ” oh mom, you don’t need to know that.. it really is gross”
There are two things that gets my maternal antenna up and running in full steam..the word gross and when my kids tell me ‘you don’t need to know’
I looked at Yaya..and she replied.”mom, swap the first letters of both words ” I did and I got “Copporn”
It really made no sense..befuddled, bewildered, confused are the few words that could describe my feelings..
Yaya helped out again
“mom ignore the first word”
and I did..
Bloody hell, I thought.
My son is 12..a lot of his classmates are already 13..I know this is the age where they are curious and learn a lot from their friends..and I know the last person my son would want to talk about sex would be me..
Ideally, I would like to tell my son that, watching porn is not good for him..and what is portrayed as real in porn isn’t what it is..I would also like to stop him from trying to watch porn..
Half the kids in his class have smart phones..The school computers have all sorts of software to prevent kids from accessing inappropriate sites.. Yet the kids know the ways and means to bypass the system.
I have the latest anti virus software that gives me a great deal of control over what sites can my kids access..I can even check their browsing history..

One of my junior in the medical college tried to commit drinking a bottle of ink..the only thing he could find at 3AM..the reason…he waited for his parents to sleep..and once everyone was asleep, he crept in to the living room, switched on the TV..and watched a porn video ..his father caught him, screamed at him and hit him.. In humiliation he tried to kill himself..

Years ago, when I was in my late teens, A friend of mine said his father subscribed playboy magazine for him when he was 14..and I was really scandalized..How can a father do that?

back to my trouble of the day.. I am in a position called “damned if I did and damned if I didn’t”
I think all boys will watch porn at some stage in their life.. I think 12 is too early.. I think porn never depicts reality.. I think I should stop my child from watching porn..
Then I send him to school ..and he could do whatever he wants

I wish life was simple..and mothering was easy and there were clear set of guidelines..


My son was the team leader for the Maths challenge for his school this year. He asked if I could drive his team to the competition venue. It isn’t often that he asks me to drive him and I was a bit puzzled by his request. It turns that my son just can’t wait to show off his mother’s mathematical skills when it comes to problem solving.. ( those of you rolling your eyes can relax, this post isn’t about me!)

Now that my kids are all older and don’t need me to walk them to their class and my work is very hectic, I don’t get time to interact with other parents.
And that morning, I was catching up with other parents while waiting for the kids to arrive.
And while talking, one parent mentioned that she tried to reach me to invite my son for indoor soccer game and  training she was organising. I am paranoid about giving my phone numbers to anyone ! I am deaf ( partially) and prefer to lip read and find conversations over the phone a bit intimidating..Surprisingly I can talk for hours with  people I have known for very long time!
I am weird, I know.
Very few people have my mobile number and no one has my house number ( It is unlisted ). Since she couldn’t get hold of me, she called a friend who stays close by and asked if she could pass on the message to me. Apparently my friend told ” Oh Sarah doesn’t let her son play any sports, she always makes him sit at home and study”

To this day, there hasn’t been a single day my son sat down and studied. He reads a lot.. all story books, I also subscribed how it works magazine for him and he reads that as well because like me he is fascinated with science and facts. But he has never sat down and studied. He gets straight A, he is the maths champion etc because he is intelligent. It is something he is born with..along with his OCD ( obsessive compulsive disorder)..

And that is what bothers me most..The total inability by parents to accept that a child can be intelligent on their own..and the need for them to find reasons for a child’s success..and the need to find a fault. and anxiously waiting to see the child faltering..because in the grand scheme of things it is my child versus their child and all that matters is to see how to defeat a bright child in all possible ways..because it just isn’t fair to see him succeed..

My Louis Vuitton bag !!

The first time I met him he was wearing brown loafers with his black pants and I thought he didn’t know how to dress..
He was also very annoying and had an attitude to match and was racist to the core.
So I avoided him whenever and where ever possible.

He was a Sarawakian Fuzhou..The general consensus  is that most of the Fuzhou are filthy rich,, but he didn’t appear to be loaded. He was your ordinary Joe..
He  jogging route was via the front of my house and if he saw me outside when he was out jogging he did the one thing that he knew would annoy me. He would wave his hand and say ” wanna cum” instead of the Tamil greeting Vanakkam. He obviously knew what he was saying and really loved to rile me up.

We had a lot of common friends and all of them knew how much I hated him.

One fine day, he came to my house without me inviting him over and told me “something smells good”. I was making chickpeas curry.
I couldn’t shut the doot on his face, though I really wanted to.
So grudgingly I invited him to join me for lunch.
Then we got to talking. and I noticed his watch..
Most of the Chinese in Malaysia followed the 5 C ( cash, car, credit card, condo and Country culb membership) and one R. ( rolex). His watch was a Corum. He was the first person other than my father whom I knew owned a Corum watch. And honestly, I thought his was a fake one from Petaling street! ( where you can find copies of all expensive watches)
He did apologize for riling me up..and we did bury the hatchet..

Over time I did hear gossips that his mom is one of the richest women in Hong kong..But apart from his watch there was no outward sign that could suggest that he was rich.
And one day while talking he asked me what is the first thing I would buy if I won a million dollars today and without hesitation I replied ” Louis Vuitton bag” ( by then my mom and my sisters owned a LV). He looked at me and told me ” good for will be making the share holders of LV very happy”.. I was so mad at could he tell me that when he was wearing Corum watch? His watch costs few times more than what I earned in a year!
We argued. He was surprised that I knew the value of his watch.He told me that his watch is a gift from his grand father..and he wore it knowing that no one in Malaysia would recognize the brand..( because you were judged by the Rolex).
His mother indeed was one of the richest women in Hongkong..and he chose not to work in the family business..and was happy to live in a small house in Sabah..
He passed away few weeks ago..but if I could say one thing about him.. it would be that ” he lived a great life” He jogged 10 km every morning and drank a bottle of whiskey every evening. He taught me to gamble..and made me taste the joy of winning a great deal of money and the pain of losing a great deal of money and more than anything he taught me to not make the shareholders of LV happy.


You know what will happen !!!

I really don’t know how one simple sentence could create so much misery..
But all through my childhood and teenage years, any time my mother said ” you know what will happen” I used to panic.
I think it started with the kunjadu  (little lamb/goat)story amma used to tell us before leaving us alone at home  while she did errands.
The story goes like this, mama goat has to go out to do the shopping and can’t take the baby goats with her. Before she leaves, she tells the baby goats not to open the door if someone knocks..and wolf sees mama goat leaving for the mall and  knock at the door.. The baby goats remember their mother’s advice and did not open the door.. Eventually over the weeks the wolf gets smarter and talk to the baby goats using mama goat’s voice and they open the door.. So you know what will happen !!

But as we grew up..any time Amma wanted to be in control..all she had to say was ” you know what will happen” and my sisters and I would stop doing whatever that bothered amma..for that simple sentence suggested endless doom !

If Amma caught me climbing the mango tree she would simply say ” you know what will happen”
and I imagined the rest of the sentence with worst possible know what will happen if you climb the mango tree… You could fall down and die!!including death..
If she didn’t want me to go to the Jethro Tull’s concert, all she had to do was to say ” you know what will happen” . I was 21, working as a doctor, yet I ended up feeling so miserable and didn’t go for the concert.. ( and not to forget that I stood in a queue for 8 hours to get the ticket!!)

I was working in my garden yesterday trying to build a pond.. It has been a dream to grow lotus..My mother always had lotus growing in our house..and I was thinking about her a lot yesterday.
While I was busy digging, my son came out eating a piece of cheese and asked me if I needed a hand..
I saw the cheese and asked ” Can I have a bite?”
( Not because I wanted the cheese. My son has OCD and find it very difficult to share food..especially things like cheese that you can’t break, but have to bite to get a piece.. I am just trying to wear him down)

My son looked at the cheese in his hand and then looked at my hopeful face and replied
and I told him without really thinking much
“You know what will happen to little boys who won’t share cheese with their loving and kind mother?”
He looked at me for a second, grinned and replied
“They grow  up to be great men”

I laughed so much..and I wish so much that  for once I could have said the same to my mother..instead of feeling miserable all through my childhood for no real reason.