Rules !

Yaya got in to trouble at school yesterday.

She was not feeling well in the morning, but she had homework to hand in and she decided to go to school. By mid afternoon, she called me to say she is feeling very sick and asked me if I could pick her up.

I took the rest of my day off and went to her school to pick her up. I couldn’t find a car park, so I parked my car on a solid yellow line, ran to the office, spoke to the staff and ran back to my car. One of the office staff went to get Yaya and as she was leaving the class, she send a txt to me to ask “Mom, where are you parked?”

All hell broke loose then. The office staff got so mad at Yaya and scolded her for using the phone. It was a major issue. Students aren’t allowed to use their phone in the school. Rules are rules.

The one person I will always hate in my life would be Mr. S. He was my medical college Principal’s assistant. From day one, we never got along. He felt he was the Princy when the actual one was away and loved bossing the students around. I was never one to care and he went to the extreme to get me in to trouble. By third year most of the professors knew, I never attended any classes and preferred to study on my own. They left me alone. But not Mr. S. He would snitch to Princy and both would hunt for me, while I was safely hiding in my room with the door locked from outside! Attending classes is didn’t matter that I am very good at autodidacticism and gained no benefit from attending lectures. Rules are rules..

During my first visit to India after returning to Malaysia, my brother in law and I went to pay my youngest sister’s school fees. While we were waiting, an office staff asked us “how are you related to Ms. Sally” and we replied “sister and brother in law”. She very kindly informed us that my sister has a boyfriend ! and I can still remember the shock on her face when my brother in law asked her “is the boy handsome?” Rules are rules.. ( in this case, convent girls aren’t supposed to have boy friends)

Yaya was very upset and she thought I was going to scold her, so before I could say anything , she said “mom, even the teachers don’t mind the students using the phone during class time and I wasn’t even in the class and I was sending a txt to my mother, not my boyfriend” She rattled on.

I held her hand and told her “Yaya, please stop, I am not angry with you”

She looked at me as though I spoke Latin, a few seconds later she smiled..

PS: I do not condone breaking rules per se..but sometimes I feel we often pick on small things and ignore the bigger picture.When I was growing up, wearing nail polish was considered a crime against humanity and if caught committing such a heinous crime by the teacher,we had to scrape the nail polish with blade at school. The idea was that students shouldn’t waste time to paint their nails, instead they should spend all their time studying..And now it is hand phones.. Each generation finds a new rule to break..

15 thoughts on “Rules !

  1. I was in the “nail polish scraping” generation too.. also was in the convent school in the capital city, infamous for fining and punishing students in the afternoon assembly who spoke in Malayalam in school. Without saying a full sentence in english, somehow I managed to escape the “i spoke malayalam” punishment, those years..

    • It was always q-tex. Never nail polish.
      For us, nail polish wasn’t accepted really. But we weren’t asked to scrape it if we wore it, though no one would wear it because if you were caught breaking some other rule, the tongue lashing would include “chamanjorungi nadannolum, q-tex kandille? veetilu paisayundengil vegam kettichu vidan para” Not all the teachers, but atleast some of them used to do it – especially the nuns. Were they frustrated because they couldn’t wear it?

      • URT:(copying Sarah): Yes, Cutex is the word.. How could i forget? I searched Cutex in wiki after 30+ yrs, to find out what this cutex was, and to think that only today I cared to find out it..LOL. Wiki says Cutex produced the first nail tints in 1914(!!!), to cause mental distress to so many mallu school girls, even after 75 yrs!

      • URT: Your comment made me remember so much. I had totally forgotten about cutex..My maternal uncle visited us when I was about 4 and gave my oldest sister a bottle of cutex, the colour according to my mother was, pelayan pink.. It was bright pink. Anyway, I wasn’t allowed to touch it and my sister kept in on the top shelf. I had to climb on the window ledge to get the bottle and while doing so, it slipped from my hand and crashed.. I ran from there..eventually my sister found her precious nail polish on the floor..all broken and dried and everyone assumed that she must have kept it on the edge of the shelf and it fell down on it own.. she got blamed..and I escaped.

        • Damn , Sarah….even my kunjamma used to call a particular majenta color ‘pela-pink’. God, how did they ever get to name all those colors!!!! and we were in trivandrum and kottayamm right? – so this was practiced throughout Kerala? *** enlightened***

          • Swathi: was it majenta colour in TVM that is considered pelayan pink? In Kottayam it was a shade that comes very close to fluro pink..None in my family wore anything pink for fear of being considered a lower caste instead of being the member of the the supreme suriani kristiani clan..

    • Swathi: When I was doing predegree, we weren’t allowed to wear jeans/trousers. MAdathillammas decided that wearing jeans was not culturally was riding a bicycle.. I never understood why one wasn’t allowed to speak Malayalam during class, when we are all Malayaless..Most of my Malaysian cousins speak more than three languages. Malayalam ( new arrivals) at home, Malay and English at school, Mandarin/Cantonese and Tamil with their classmates neighbours etc. Learning a language doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t speak another..

      • Sarah: We are in the same generation i understand, as i am ur regular reader. It was in 1983-1993 , when i was in in Holy Angels’ Convent School, in Trivandrum(1st std to 10th). When i was in 5th/6th std, this ” i spoke malayalam” punishment made headlines in local newspaper(kerala kaumudi, i think) after one of the parents complained, as the punishment included making the student stand in the ground under scorching sun for 1 period(45 mts), after readling their names aloud in afternoon assembly. i think one of the girls fainted. Also if my memory is correct, they have to wear a paper slip written”i spoke malayalam”, whole day – hence the name. Once this came in papers, they removed the punishment. Apparently, HAC english medium considered conversing in malayalam , derogatory . Funny part was that even while studying in english medium, i couldn’t speak or score good marks in english and was always made fun of. I didnt have ur thinking capacity and considered myself very low for not able to converse or even get pass marks in english. So,I took malayalam as 2nd lang in pre-degree and scored more than who took french and hindi.(i am still in touch with my 7th std malayalam teacher!)…Jeans, ofcourse was another issue, even divided skirts were problem. I got the permission to wear jeans even from my father ONLY after i got into engg college. Today when i go to tvm, i see my much younger teen-cousins wear jeans and the ‘older’ me still hesitates- though jeans is the only thing i wear in ireland.

        • We had to speak in english too. can’t remember the punishment though – it wouldn’t have been very severe. I finished my sslc in 1996, from Thrissur.
          I never knew the english word for “payaru”, and every time i said the word, i got caught. I finally came up with an excuse, I was saying “pyre”. No one said sentences should mean anything as long as it was english. If i talk about “pyre” curry, it is upto the listener to think i am mad, or i am just trying to talk in “english”. I had several such words in my vocabulary, which were “wrongly pronounced english words” which happened to sound like malayalam words.

          Somehow I knew about cutex. I always thought it was q-tex. I never bought one from a shop. It was always twice a year, from the fair that comes along with the perunnal in the church. They used to name everything after movie names. I still remember “namukku paarkan munthiri thoppukal” bangles, “kireedam” nail polish,…

          About jeans- when I wore it when I was in school, people used to make fun of me. When I grew up more, one of these same people was my classmate in engineering college, and used to wear jeans even when we didn’t have mechanical lab. Now she wears jeans exclusively. I do wear jeans, but then I always did. I guess everything changes with time.

          • URT: Years ago, when a cousin of mine was in love with a hindu girl, his older brother hit the roof..He only calmed down after the lovers broke up. Years later, the older brother married a hindu girl..All those who cast their rocks my way, eventually they too did all I did..but somehow, I was always the one who got blamed..

          • URT: ROTFL @ ‘pyre’ thoran….and ‘pyre’ curry..Its brilliant that you made ur own ‘manglish’ vocabulary to avoid punishment.I too should have thought of that. It was pure luck that i didn’t get caught for speaking in malayalam – as I could never speak in proper english sentences, till i started living here.Only later I realised with just english I cant survive in europe when i couldnt communicate even a YES/NO in non-english speaking countries. And now its huge commn probms with me and my 2 yr old b/w my mallu accent and her irish accent.

        • Swathi: I wear shorts all the time..I have often wondered how I would have been viewed if I, as a 42 year old wore tiny shorts in Kerala..In India, you are judged for everylittle thing. What you wear, what you eat, what you teach your as an indvidual do not exist..Here, I can live as who I want to be. No one cares if I wear shorts,or speak English at home or my children are totally ash poosh..

          • Sarah: Oh! pls dont wear shorts and come to kerala, if u r brown-skinned. i will honestly worry about ur safety.

          • Swathi: Now that my children are older, I would love to take them to vallom kali etc..but I can’t bring myself to do it because I can’t cope with my daughters getting molested..just because they are girls..

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