She looked so beautiful..

The last time I saw amma was just before I left for the Airport to catch the flight back home. She was at my Aunt’s house and I went there to say my goodbye to both of them. What I remember the most that day was how beautiful Amma looked.

Amma was living with me for 6 months prior to that. When she came to stay with me, she brought with her one nighty , cream colour with tiny pink roses and a faded black under skirt. There are no nighty shops here and Amma only wanted to wear the achan kuppayam.. every night she washed her nighty and wore it again..and again.. and again for 6 months. She didn’t want to go to the salon for a hair cut either. By the 2nd month, her face had a permanent frown and by the 3rd month, she chose to stay in her room all day and night, often taking the food to her room to eat. I have always believed that a family that eats together stays together and have always made sure that we eat our dinner together and it was really painful to watch my mom taking the food to her room to eat. It made me feel like I am running an inn, not a home.

She didn’t want to go anywhere, didn’t want to spend time with her grandchildren and only spoke to me once a week when it was time to see her favourite mallu serial on youtube..( I just can’t remember the name. if I am not mistaken the ending was rushed because an actor committed suicide) I had no idea how to deal with my mother, more so because she was on a war path with me for no apparent reason. I was so annoyed with her by time I took her to India.. But that day, (when I was leaving), when I saw her, the first thought that came to my mind was ” She looks so beautiful” She wore a baby blue colour nighty, had a hair cut and the frown on her face had gone. I knew, I will never see her again..and I have safely stored that image of my mother in my mind.

It is 3 years since I last saw my mother. They say, time heals..but they are lying. Time doesn’t torments you every hour of every day..

My morning

It is Ekka holiday here. I went to bed planning to sleep in, after all it is very rare to get a mid week holiday. I woke up at 5 AM. I was too lazy to turn on the light, I hoped if I closed my eyes, then I might go back to sleep. Alas, no such luck.

I heard my neighbour up the street taking a U turn in front of my house. I think she is scared to reverse out from the garage to the left, instead, she drives all the way to the end of the road ( where my house is) and takes a U turn. Since I can’t do side parking, I felt I have no right to judge another driver. Few minutes later I heard the news paper delivery man’s car. When I was in the 5th standard, for Fancy Dress competition, I dressed up as a newspaper vendor..wore appa’s shirt and mundu, held a stack of news paper in my hand, and screamed at the top of my voice ” choodu vartha, choodu vartha, Rajantey maranam, kolapthakamo, athmahathya yo” ( Hot news, read it now). I didn’t win the first prize because I also wore Appa’s watch and according to the judge, “News paper vendors are poor and can’t afford a watch”

I always remember the judge’s remark when I hear the newspaper delivery driver stopping in front of my house. He drives a Subaru BRZ Z! Coupe. I don’t deny that the Mallu in me get pretty upset with the fact that he is driving such a beautiful car to deliver  newspaper and adding unnecessary mileage to his car and reducing its resale value..Then I can hear the UB40 singing in my head Don’t forget to smell the roses.

Why must I feel upset when he is enjoying the drive each morning in his beautiful and powerful car?

The (teenage) father of the little girl is away at the mines. I think he will be back end of this week. Then I can hear both the father and the daughter going for their morning stroll a little after 7 AM. On weekends, they drive to Brumbies bakery nearby  and when I am in the garden, I can see them sitting in the truck and eating the pastries. And I know for sure that the father will come a bit later with a vacuum cleaner  and clean the truck. His truck is his pride and joy and he keeps it very clean.


Right now as I type this, I can hear the Kookaburra’s calling out,  my neighbour ( the one who had the hip replacement surgery) must be doing some gardening. Every time she is out in the garden, the kookaburra’s start to sing because though it is against the law to feed the wild, my neighbour loves feeding the birds.

You can hear the Kookabburra’s singing @ 2.30  in the video

I started of the post this morning wanting to write something else..I shall do that tomorrow..

Don’t forget to smell the roses.



When I saw that I am expecting a boy during the Ultrasound, I asked my Doctor “What am I going to do?”

For me, having a daughter was no big deal, I knew how to raise her . I didn’t have any brothers and I had absolutely no idea how to raise a boy. But there was one thing I was sure, I will never forget while raising my boy,.it was to remember that one day my son will be a husband and there is no way I want my daughter in law to come and tell me that I screwed up raising her husband.

When my son was in grade 7, he regularly posted on FB “What a nasty mean mother his mom is”

It all started with an Ipod touch. All his friends had an ipod touch and during their free time, they all played angry birds. He already had an ipod and I didn’t see the need for him to have another one. So I said “No”. He wasn’t happy.  Then he did some consultancy work and earned enough money to buy his own ipod touch. I still said “No”

“It is my money, I can do what I want” He said.

“You live in my home and you will do what I tell you to do till you are 18 and only then you are legally free to do what you want” I said.

I had already explained to him that he already has an Ipod and doesn’t need another one. he needs to save his money for Uni and that he will get a smartphone when he is in grade 9.

But he wasn’t happy and decided to publicly humiliate me by regularly posting on FB about how horrible and mean his mother is. It also didn’t help that his friends too tried to rile him up. In one of his post, he was talking about the latest graphics card ( that costs an arm and a leg) and a friend of his replied ” dude, your mom won’t even get you an Ipod touch and there is no way she will buy you a graphics card”

My point was to teach him to understand a simple word “no”.  It is a word every boy ought to learn to live with.  It is a word that if they didn’t learn can create a lot of havoc in their life. I didn’t want my son to think that he is entitled to everything  because he happens to be a male and can strut around expecting everyone to fall at his feet..

It did hurt me when he was ranting on FB and I wondered if I was making the right decision. After all he can spend the money he earned however he wished.

After a month of ranting and not seeing me react, he gave up.

He used the money to buy sensors for his robot.

This week he is meeting a visiting Professor from  a famous American Uni for dinner to talk about his invention.. He got his suit dry cleaned and has been talking non stop about the opportunity to meet his hero.

And I have a memory of an elephant 🙂

So I asked him

“So, you still think your mom is nasty and mean?”

“What do you mean?” He asked bewildered

“do you remember all those FB rants when I didn’t let you buy an Ipod touch?”

“Geez Mom, you are never going to let me forget those days are you?”

“You did hurt my feelings” I told him the truth.


Leap of faith.

I wrote the final exam for my master’s degree when I was 8 months pregnant with my son. Yaya was 20 months old then and I remember trying to study at night before the exams, often I was too exhausted and  couldn’t even keep awake, let alone remember what I studied.

But I always wanted to study. It is not just for adding a row of alphabets after my was a challenge to learn more.I felt the only person standing in front of me, preventing me from getting what I want is me. I live close to the Universities and I am eligible for HECS loan. Crazy as it sounds, I decided to go back to Uni and study again. I am doing my master’s degree majoring in Indigenous health.

I know it won’t be easy. I am 42 years old, I have three kids, up until now, I only had to handle work and home, now I must balance my studies, my work and my role as a mother. But sometimes, one need to take a leap of faith..Who knows where I will end up? But I won’t know that if I don’t take the leap right?.. So here I am.. all ready to study. ( again)

Not alone

One of the most difficult thing to do when you come from a dysfunctional family is to talk about what you have gone through. Most automatically assume that you are talking about your miseries because you are on a mission to gather sympathies.. and then there is the fact that you need to keep fighting for your innocence, again because it is assumed that somehow all that happened to you was because you did something wrong. It is inconceivable to most people that bad things can happen to good people.

I am not a victim. I am a survivor.. I write, not because I need sympathy, but because I know I am not alone. There are so many people out there who will never be able to tell a soul what they have gone through. I want them to know they are not alone..

Maya Angelou wrote

But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone by Maya Angelou

I read this article yesterday and I wanted to share it here.

Homeless to Fabulous.

Away until Monday.

Have a Jolly good weekend.


Oh dear..

Ever since the parent meeting regarding subject selection for grade 11 and 12, I have been asking Yaya, “what are you planning to do?” and each time I received the same reply ” Mom, I don’t want to think about it”. For which I tried to reply once ” But you have to make a decision, it is a mandatory requirement” and she came after me like a banshee and told me off by saying “Mom, I am not stupid, I know I have to make a decision, but I don’t want to do it now, so leave me alone”

I know she is stressed. This decision she has to make will affect her future. It is too much to ask a 15 year old to choose the subjects only based on following her heart. Sometimes you have to study subjects you don’t like if it meant that you can get a degree in a field you want to study. ( I hate statistics, but it was a mandatory requirement for my master’s degree)

Yaya is also like me.. do everything in the very last how can I get angry with her?

I had some pending work that needed to be completed last night. I only got home at 9.30 pm after basketball game. Dinner was in the slow cooker and I told the kids to serve themselves and sat down to do my work. 5 minutes later, with a bowl of hot steaming pumpkin risotto in her hand, my oldest child walked  in to my room. “Mom, the teacher told me today that I have to hand in my subject selection tomorrow morning”

“And?” I asked knowing very well where we are heading.

“What subjects I should take?”

What I wanted to say was : How should I know, have I not asked you the past 2 weeks and have you not yelled at me? Now can’t you see that I am busy and haven’t even had time to eat my dinner? I have to get this work done today, so do whatever you want, I don’t give a damn” Honestly, I said all that in my head and counted to 100, so I won’t scream at her.

Because I didn’t say anything, she thought I was ignoring her and said ” You could help me you know, that is what parents are for” I took a deep breath and forced myself to smile. “What help you need?” I asked with a 70mm smile.

“Should I take Physics or Biology?”

I know she hates science, besides, physics is all about doing problems and biology is all about memorising. So I told her “Both are easy, but the only thing is, you will have to spend time practicing problem solving in Physics, whereas Biology is pretty straight forward.. there is no trick questions involved.”

“But what if I want to do sound engineering? Physics is a mandatory subject for sound engineering”

Chances that Yaya will do sound engineering is pretty slim. So I told her, “if you are really keen to do sound engineering, you can always do 6 months physics course at TAFE and upgrade after grade 12. As it is, you finish grade 12 in October and can only join US Universities the next September, so you have enough time to upgrade.”

We, the two blind mice spend the rest of the evening trying to figure out what Yaya should do. So far, She has decided to do English, Spanish and History as her IB higher level, maths, visual arts and Biology as standard level subjects.

Now, I am scared. Have I helped her to chose the right subjects or have I screwed it all up.. I know time will tell..I only hope that I didn’t screw up my child’s future.


Never say Never..

My oldest memory of my aunt is the time I visited my grandparent’s home. I must have been 3 + years old. She wore a sleeveless blouse with the saree. Her earrings were so huge, it almost touched her shoulder, she also wore matching bangles but that is not all, she wore extremely ‘high’ heels and when she walked, the heels clanked tuck tuck on the floor and the earrings jingled and swayed in tune. My mother on the other hand wore Bata slippers, cream blouse with a crappy old saree. It was such a contrast and my aunt’s image was permanently stored in my brain. Over the years, I associated her with famous Hindi Actress of that time. She was slender, pretty and carried herself well.

Then my aunt got married and had kids. I remember the time after she gave birth to her youngest, my grandmother wanted her to do the exercise to strengthen the tummy muscles and she refused saying “Now that I am a mother who cares how I look?” I was 12 then and I remember feeling disappointed that my aunt lost the zest for living.

But things changed  on the day my aunt turned 40. She declared on that day that, she will no longer eat anything sweet and bought artificial sweeteners because they were healthier than sugar.. She had a new haircut. She started to wear  high heels again.  She tried one diet after another, went for morning walk and came home and ate like a pig,   the weight remained and the heels didn’t last.

I adore my aunt, but I promised I will never be like her. I have never dieted and have no intention of dieting. Last weekend, when I went for my grocery shopping, I stopped in front of the baking aisle. I needed to buy Sugar. I noticed the artificial sweeteners on the rack.. I am well read and my biochemistry is pretty strong, yet the packet of stevia called out to me. It was so compelling that I bought it. I don’t even know why. I eat healthy food all the time, yet there is a part of me that wants to make sure that I will go the extra mile and eat more healthier food. I only consume one cup of tea each morning and I don’t need to cut the sugar..but it still I am compelled to do so. It is like there is an inner voice that is at odds with aging..



The trouble being a multilingual is that, sometimes you are stuck with words that makes so much sense in one language, but can’t be translated to English without losing the feelings elicited when you hear the word. negalikkanda is a word my mom used quiet often.

If I got the highest marks for Microbiology and went home and told Amma “Ma, I got the highest mark for Micro” She never smiled and said Congrats. She said “negalikkanda” (don’t you dare boast)

It meant that getting the highest marks for Micro wasn’t a big deal and I mustn’t boast, for I could lose everything tomorrow..there is something called Divine retribution. According to her theory, it was God who gave me the chance to get the highest mark ( often by helping me remember all that I studied and making the teachers give me the questions that I could answer well, therefor score the highest mark.) and if I boasted, then God could get angry with me and make me fail the next exam..and the one after I would learn a lesson that I am nothing but the clay in God’s hands and he made me what I am. But in my case, I knew how hard I worked, how many hours I kept awake at night reading and revising and how determined I was to get the highest marks. But my mother’s words have always remained in my soul like a little thorn that constantly inflict tiny jabs of fear. Especially because I don’t follow the normal mallu code of conduct.

I walked away from my family, my children have no contact with anyone in my family, I raise them as atheist, I haven’t taught them any Indian values and they do not even identify themselves as Indians.

Couple of weeks ago, Yaya told me that she spend more time with her friend’s grandmother than with her own. ( She goes to her friend’s  grandmother’s house in Sydney every year and spend few  weeks with her). I walked away from my family, not to keep a score, but to save my children from further harm..But I am terrified that depriving them of a solid family is a mistake. Every time my children come to me and tell me that they won the first prize or was chosen to represent the school, I smile and tell them how proud I am..and I can hear my mother’s voice in my head “negalinkkanda”


The Gurkha’s daughter stories.

I don’t really like to read short stories because of the way most short stories end. The ending makes me feel very unsettled. I spend  considerable amount of time trying to imagine how the story would pan out, after the author left me hanging in a cloud of suspense and drama.

The first collection of short stories I read would be A quiver full of arrows by Jeffrey Archer. I borrowed the book from the lending library near my home ( Bangalore) I can see the road and the library in my mind. I can even see the billboard across the road with the sign “Hashish to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Say no to drugs”. But I can’t remember the name of the road. it was a major road and the library was at the junction of woods street and the major road. ( If anyone knows what I am talking about, do leave a comment.. It bothers me terribly when I can’t remember something). There was an ice cream parlour two shops from the library. If I saved the bus fare by walking ( abt 45 minutes one way), then I used to bus fare money and bought Kulfi from the ice cream shop and ate the kulfi while reading the book. I had only started to read books seriously around that time and Jeffrey Archer was/is one of my favourite author. I was so excited to get another book written by him. I didn’t even buy Kulfi that day and I took the bus back home, so I could sit quietly in my room and read the book. I was so disappointed that the book I thought was another master piece was  nothing but a collection of short stories.

I do try my darnedest to stay away from short stories !

My friends know my love for books and when they come over, instead of bringing me a bottle of wine ( for my health, they say), they buy me books. The Gurkha’s daughter stories by Prajwal Parajuly was given to me as a gift last weekend. I feel terribly guilty if I don’t read a book given as a gift, it feels like I have betrayed the gift giver, especially because the gift giver has painstakingly picked a book from Indian Subcontinent, knowing how much I love all things Indian..

I know nothing about Prajwal Parajuly..I read the book last night and very rarely an author can make me travel to a different world..I could almost see Kali and her cleft lip and money inside the Liv 52 bottle.I hoped Kali wouldn’t find her way to the red light streets of Mumbai..If an author could make me feel those emotions..then to me, he is the best of the best.

I have absolutely enjoyed reading the book.


If I could use a word to describe me, apart from the usual words like stubborn, determined, pain in the posterior etc, it would be ‘fiercely independent’, I wasn’t always independent, I was your typical country mouse. I didn’t even know to comb my own hair. Amma used to do that everyday and that particular day she wasn’t home and I had to get ready for Sunday school. There was no way I could miss the Sunday school because I was competing with kaithamukkiley kazhutha ( that was his nick name) for the ‘best attendance’ record to win the first prize ( 30 Rs gift voucher to spend at Ladies Corner shop) Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to comb and tie my hair. Before leaving home, Amma had told my sister to help me comb and tie my hair, but she felt I was old enough to do the deed and refused. I couldn’t bear the thought of kathamukkiley kazhutha winning the price, and with tears streaming down my cheeks mostly because I was betrayed by my own sister, I walked to Aunty Reena’s house with my comb and got her to help me. I was 12 years old. ( Aunty Reena obviously wasn’t my mother and didn’t know that my hair is silky smooth and unless you tie it very tightly, gravity will work on the hair tie !! which it did, but fortunately I was already at the church when it happened and I did a Justin Bieber style flick and survived the disaster)

I have often wondered why my mother never told me to comb my own hair? Of course, I was deaf and dumb and blind and useless.. But still, at 12 years of age, I should at least know to comb my own hair. No?

I did learn to comb my own hair  after that day and it was the beginning of learning to be independent.

Over the years I learned that I could never depend on my family and I felt if my family won’t help me, then why should my friends help me? I know it sounds really silly, but I find it very difficult to ask for help. I do everything that needs to be done. But sometimes, it is not easy..

Yesterday, Yaya had to attend a school program in CBD ( central Business district)that finished at 9.30 PM. I live 35 minutes drive  from the CBD. I can’t leave the younger two at home and go and get Yaya. Both are tired after their basketball match and 9.30 pm is already beyond their bedtime, not including the time it takes to get back home.. At times like this, I do wish if only I had someone to help me. but I don’t have anyone.

At about 7 pm, a friend whose daughter also was attending the same program called to say that she will pick both the girls and drop mine home. She knows I am alone and decided to step in even if it meant that she will end up driving an extra 30 minutes back and forth. Although she offered to drop my daughter home, I felt it isn’t right to make her drive all the way to my house and instead drove to her house and got Yaya saving her the drive to my house. When I gave birth to my son, my sister younger to me lived 10 minutes drive from my home, not once she came home to see me or the baby or called to ask if I need any help..

Sometimes, family will fail you over and over, but then you meet strangers who go the extra mile for you..