Today, walk with me through the streets of Kottayam.
The year was 1984, a very important year, I was in the 10th Std, my future dependent on the outcome of how well I did that year. It was like one of those rocket fire crackers you place in the old Limca bottle and waiting to light it, having no idea where the rocket is heading or if there is going to be a beautiful show of sparkling lights..or if it was going to be dud.
I just wanted to score more marks than my oldest sister, a very difficult task because my sister is incredibly intelligent while I was deaf, dumb and blind. Yet, there was still a possibility albeit tiny that if I really worked hard, I might just get what I want.
Oh, yeah, I forgot, we were supposed to walk through the streets of Kottayam. It was raining that morning and the first thing I did was to check the Manorama paper, to see if the education minister postponed school reopening for few more days due to kala varsha keduthi.. ( one of those beautiful Malayalam word that just can’t be translated to English without losing the meaning). Of course, I was really excited to go back to school, but few more days of freedom wasn’t going to harm anyone, was it? After all, school was not going anywhere. Sadly the minister was not very magnanimous.
My school bag was a sling bag made of brown corduroy material that was in its deathbed and the shoe repair guy sitting in front of Seematti tried his level best to fix it. I used to carry the bag with the strap across my chest, till one vayum nokki from CMS college, pointed to my boobs and asked me, ” percentage ano?”
As I left home that morning, my oldest sister asked me ” motta kachodam thudangan pattuvo?” ( Will you score enough zeros ( mottas = eggs) to start selling eggs). I glared at her, hoping my eyes could send forth fire. I never understood why all the mythical characters had such abilities and I wasn’t given the same. I could have solved all my life’s troubles if I could incinerate everyone who bugged me.
I know we still haven’t started the walk. There are many little lanes that I had to walk, till I reached the road we are going to walk today. Normal people will take the shortest route. But I am not normal, so I hiked up to top of the 70 feet road ( Shasthri road) and then walked down. The street was full of kids and parents. Some going to the school near MT seminary ( can’t remember the name) and most heading to MT seminary. That was the year, I had decided to do no Vayum nottam, So, I didn’t. I looked down and walked.
I loved walking in the rain. Every now and then, I stopped walking and looked around. If there was no one near me, I spinned the umbrella and watched the rain drops going on a merry go round. I also walked through every single puddle, knowing very well that my Bata sandals was built to last another century ( So Amma will not be mad at me for damaging the sandals) and that this was the last year of my life I will be able to do something that silly and not get in to trouble. With age came responsibility and respectable behaviour.
By the time I reached my school, I was soaking wet, my uniform skirt was painted with mud splatter and my school bag too didn’t fare better..But I was happy, because I knew, I could go places and do things I really wanted to do, if I believed in myself.
How far I have come, since that day..
Today, kids in Kerala will be going back to school and the Wheels of life goes on..