Lately I wake up in the middle of the night and find it difficult to fall asleep again…
On 21st of jan… I was at my Kochi house. I have rented an apartment beside backwaters and every evening I am blessed wth breathtaking view of the sunset. (Not showing off)
But none of this helped me with my sleep…
I woke up around 1am staring at the ceiling and praying for the sleep god to bless me. Then I heard my dad’s alarm ring in the next room. First I was confused then I realised they are 60+ old.
My mom’s alarm religiously rings at 12:45am and it’s our duty to switch it off. If you ask me why we can’t just delete the alarm setting, there is only one answer — ,we are lazy and it’s fun to hear my dad complaining about it every morning…
Anyway I thought it was one of those… After a while it rang again.. this time he woke up, rushed out of his room. I could hear a few noises… and then he came back to his room, switched on the light and started texting someone… It was way past my mom’s bed time so who else could it be… I held back my thoughts… I wondered if he knew I could see him from my bed.
After a while he got out of his room and came out to check on me…. So maybe he knew… Hmm…
It was dark with light coming from the living room. I waved at him, just so that he knows I’m awake…
He with his added base voice just asked, “orangi ille?” (didn’t you sleep?). Very strange I thought. What happened to my Toofan Mail dad?
I replied illa (no) with a cold tone… to which he just replied hmmm and walked back to his room and shut the door…. Maybe my dad needs camera to be extra sweet, I thought.
Now there was no way I could hold my anxiety… I got up to have some water… basically to investigate… I went to his room and asked with my base voice, “papade alarm etha ring chethe?” (Why did your alarm ring?)… He said it was set by mistake… My dad doesn’t look into my eyes when he lies… I knew he was upto something… I went back to my room, thinking of different possibilities.
Does he have an affair??!
When I turned he had shut my door! what an audacity, I thought… “Ithre dhayiriyum namakku pollum illaranallo” (Even we don’t have such courage!)
I started watching friends… Because my heart beat was overpowering the silence of the room… After a while I heard a voice… Another base voice, hello.
I turned… it was Abish! Everything made sense…
My dad doesn’t have an affair! I told Abish….
Dad and Abish had a confused look on their faces. 23rd of January was our wedding anniversary, what an amazing surprise. 😀
When I was a kid, my dad used to travel a lot because of his work.
I remember this funny feeling I used to get in my tummy, each time I saw his suitcase out.
I knew he wouldn’t listen but each time he walkedout of the door, I would be glued to his foot, pulling him back.
Well, I wasn’t strong enough…
My mom had so much to deal with… first her work, handle the entire household and then two adorable kids. To top it off I used to fall ill only when my dad was out-of-town. Either he used to travel a lot or I used to miss him a lot. Either way it was a task for my mom.
Today I’m 30, and each time I visit homemy parents want me to stay longer. The only difference is they can’t cling to my leg and pull me back…
I know how they feel and it hurts that I have to go…
I guess… I now know how he felt back then.
“Those were the days ……Rum and coke and lots of dreams and hair” – Jose Kavi
Amshula moves to the next room with her phone. She shows you her phone screen to you. It reads KARAN. There are people lying on the bed. When they see Amshula, they move out. She picks up the call.
Karan… (Sighs deeply)
A few weeks back Amshula was in Mumbai
Amshula in her air-hostess uniform enters the apartment with a suitcase. She looks extremely tired. There is a young man, dressed up, clearing the table.
Hey… when did you come?
They kiss on the cheek and greet.
I had a layover.
How do I describe Karan to you guys; He is 5’9, well built, clean shaven with well defined jaw-line. He is one of the softer alpha man. By profession he is a pilot and that’s how they met.
I had an intense day… There was a lady on my flight…
Amshula sits on the chair and grabs an apple to eat.
I’ll hear all that later.
Karan keeps the apple back.
Freshen up first. We have Sofia’s birthday party to attend.
Do I have to join you? I’m just too tired.
Karan pulls her out of the chair.
No excuses… I have bought something for you. Go change…
She walks in half heartedly.
Amshula is getting ready. Karan opens a beer bottle and starts drinking. He looks nervous. Amshula shouts from the room
Isn’t this too fancy for a birthday party?
Just wear it… I liked it… Moreover its a theme party.
I need help.
Amshula steps out. She turns around. Karan helps her with the zip. Amshula is holding her breath.
You look gorgeous…
I’m sure you picked a smaller size… I cant breathe…
They both laugh.
Ouch… I can’t laugh.
Amshula looks at you.
I think, I know what he is upto… But I will pretend as if I don’t know… surprise dinner at some fancy place. This is the 10th time he is doing this…
Amshula looks at him and laughs.
They reach Taj Lands End, it’s a fancy hotel close to the sea and slightly away from the cities hush buzz.
Amshula and Karan walk in.
Hey… are we first?
Close your eyes.
They enter one of the halls. Amshula gets weirded out.
As they walk in to a point. The lights turns on. The room is full of her old friends.
This… is not… something…
Amshula looks around puzzled. Her best friend has flown down from Delhi.
Sneha… What the hell…
Sneha comes and hugs her.
You will know.
Karan goes on his knees.
Oh… my God…
The crowd is cheering. Amshula is in shock. Her phone rings. It’s her mother. Sneha takes the phone from her.
Look, I guarantee, there will be tough times. I guarantee that at some point, one or both of us is gonna want to get out of this thing. But i also guarantee that if I don’t ask you to be mine, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. Coz I know in my heart that only you can tolerate me.
Karan takes out the ring.
So… Will you marry me?
The crowd is cheering “yes”. Amshula looks around and looks back at him. She has a half-hearted smile and nods yes.
Karan gets up and puts the ring. They hug and kiss. Amshula looks at you.
Sometimes you actually get surprised…
Everyone comes to greet them. Sneha passes her the phone.
Your mom has been calling you.
Amshula takes the phone and calls her back.
Hello Amma… I cant hear you. wait…
Amshula walks out of the hall.
Amma can you hear me?
Congratulations… We are sorry we couldn’t make it.
My mom tells me everything… Everything… Anyway that’s how I got engaged!
That’s how she got engaged. Now let’s get to the present.
How is it going? I’m sorry I couldn’t come.
That’s okay… It’s crazy here… I just couldn’t even see my grandma properly…
Meanwhile in the kitchen, Krishna and Shyamala are getting the food ready.
Krishna, can you just check and see if the kanji is done. I’ll go grind the chutney.
Ya ok!.. There 10 people for lunch.
So many? I thought most of them would be leaving.
They decided to stay.
Shyamala is irritated.
Such parasites… Ok. You serve the first batch, in the meantime I’ll start cooking for the rest.
Krishna takes a few plates and gets out of the kitchen into the dining hall. Seated around the dining table are all women; some aunts and nieces and cousins. All gossiping in general. Suddenly an aunt pointing outside….
Oh look! Lucy has come.
All the women and some of the domestic help run to the entrance of the house.
Lucy is Amshula’s mother. She has draped herself in a blue ikat saree. She looks like a cooperate woman who isn’t extremely comfortable in saree. Jose her husband is half bald from the front and has a very welcoming aura.
Thomas and Lucy embrace. Lucy has a pale look on her face but tries to hold it together. Along with Lucy is her husband, Jose who is holding their bag. Jose pats Thomas on his back. Some of the onlookers, mostly the aunts pass their comments with each other.
She looks lean…
Pandathe bhangi onnum illa…
Lucy walks in and goes straight to her mother’s room.
Tresakutty… what mischief are you upto?
Where else will I go… I heard you are getting naughtier day by day… Did you eat anything?
Not yet. These idiots aren’t leaving me alone.
Everyone in the room gets uncomfortable.
Now we are here.
You have gained a lot of weight.
Hearing her mother laugh Amshula cuts the call and walks out.
Wait… I’ll call you later.
Amshula gets out and makes way to meet her mother. They hug each other.
Amshula goes and sits on her mother’s lap.
Shooo… You are a big girl now.
It’s ok Elemma.
By then another Aunt enters the house and starts crying loud.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t have any strength at all to get through this.
Amshula is annoyed but tries her best to be polite
What happened peramma… She is still alive… She has just hurt her leg a little bit.
Amshula gets up from her mom’s lap.
(to her mother)
I’ll get you something to drink.
She looks at the grandmother.
Yes… Thank God someone cares… Everyone leave the room now… You guys have created enough drama… I’m not dead yet.
Amshula laughs and walks out. On the way, she hugs her dad. He looks at the ring.
We’ll talk about it later.
All the aunts sit around the dining table; all eyes turn toward Lucy and she’s fielding their questions.
You can’t let Ammuma stay alone… There are so many thieves around this area…
Don’t know Elemma… Thomas is trying to figure something out.
If you want I can move in with my family. Rajesh’s work is very close from here…
Amshula is taken shower. Her hair is tied up and she enters the room hearing this conversation. She gets extremely irritated.
Amachi… Give mom a few days… She just came.
They all are quiet. Amshula walks into Ammuma’s room.
Amshula shares her room with her grandmother; that’s how things have always been and they never felt a need to change it.
There are two beds in Ammuma’s room. Amshula is sleeping on the other bed.
How is the boy?
Amshula thinks for a while.
He is good.
Like your grandpa…
Yes… Like my grandpa…
Lucy walks in.
Amu… Be ready by 8. We have to go to church. Chachande aand aanu.
Next day morning the entire family is in the church.
Amshula’s grandfather’s 8th death anniversary Mass is going on. Amshula is sitting at the back, close to the main door. When everyone gets up for some prayer. Amshula sneaks out.
Chechi where are you going?
To see Chachan..
Athu saram illa…
They walk towards the graveyard. Her cousin sister joins her. She is stressed as if she is attempting a crime.
I’m scared of turbulence… How do you survive it?
You have no idea how scared I am… I don’t think you can die.
Amshula is standing in front of his George’s father’s grave. She stands there for a while. A small 7 year old boy comes running to the grave and pushes Amshula.
To her cousin
I can’t stand kids…
The kid places flowers. Behind him is George’s mother. Amshula smiles at her.
George’s mom hugs her.
Mol eppo vannu?
Amshula tooks at the kid.
Aunty to the kid
Did you say Hi to Aunty?
Amshula bends down. She doesn’t know what to do…
She is your daddy’s friend.
By then the Mass is over and her family has come to the grave.
(to George’s mom)
I have to go…
Nice meeting you…
Amshula walks towards her family. She turns back and looks at the kid. He smiles at her.
Amshula joins her family. The priest is reciting prayers.
When the prayer gets over George’s mom comes to wish Ammuma and her parents. The kid is running around. Ammuma calls him and gives him some money.
AMMUMAGo buy some candy.
The kid gets excited.
Thomas is driving back home with Ammuma in the front seat. Amshula is sitting behind with her parents. Grandma is sitting on the front seat.
Are you in touch with George?
No… After college we lost in touch.
He has changed so much. earlier he used to walk around with long hair bearded look.
I liked that more.
Ammakyu allengilum vrithi ishtam illa.
You guys arent in touch?
He was so helpful when you were here. Don’t be so selfish.
Amshula doesn’t react to it.
If possible when you are here go meet his mother.
Leave her alone. Where are we going to eat?
Shyamala has cooked at home.
No… I wanna go out.
Lucy gets irritated. Jose clams her.
Where do you wanna go Amma.
Uchakyu kal shaap o?
Amshula smiles. Amshula is looking out of the window. as the car moves she sees her old college.
Sorry for not being able to be regular here… Past few weeks have been a ride that I’ll share it later…
Today’s post might not be like the usual…
Anyway, here we go
If I ask you the about your first memory of death what would it be?
Mine was when I was little, maybe 4, when my dad’s elder brother passed away… I was staring at all the adults in the house, when we got the news. His elder son was staying with us in Delhi and he was packing his bags to leave for Kerala. I remember some adult noticing me being confused about what was going on and came close to me and told me, is “Sabu chettai’de papa illa”. It took me a while to understand what that meant and my first thought was “Sabu chettaikku papa illalo enikyu ondu”. Don’t judge me I truly didn’t understand the meaning of death.
I understood it when my mom’s dad passed away. I was in my 5th std. We received a phone call at night, as usual my mom picked up the phone… My dad was traveling… So there was just my mom, brother and me. My mother started crying on the phone and it was non stop. Whoever has met my mother knows that she is a tough woman. I had never seen her cry like that. She kept the phone and we asked her what happened… She didn’t respond and went to her room… We both got worried. when I went and sat next to her on the bed. She kept saying chachan poyi.. Chachan poyi…
That’s the moment I truly understood what Sabu chettai had gone through..
Since then I have always imagined how it would be losing a close one… Everyone knows how close I am to my parents… Losing someone close would be so painful right?
Woodie gave me answers to all that. It hurts. You feel helpless, the only thing you want is them back in your life.
A week back I brought a puppy home from Bangalore…. a Cocker Spaniel… The best breed for a person who is scared of dogs… I can vouch for it. He was one of the most loving and intelligent puppies I have ever seen… Even though I have met very few of them…. In two days he was acting slightly weird and I took him to the vet… He was diagnosed with Parvo virus…
The doctor said there was very less chances coz he was a puppy (37days old).
My dad, Woodie and I werent willing to lose the battle without a good flight. The doctor asked me to ask the breeder for an exchange. I was slightly in shock with that response… He is my baby!
I’m not going into the details of the the 4 day fight but all I want to tell you is it hurts…
He died in my arms… He was a good fighter and I’ll always be his mother…
Usually for me penning down helps but I guess this will stay for longer.
Imagine a young woman in her 30 with bangs covering her forehead. The only thing that makes her Malayalee is her hair — thick black, half wavy and half straight. Her yellow full sleeve top with denim makes her stand out in the crowd. A few people recognise her and some give her the stare… She is carrying a big bag-pack and looks extremely exhausted. This is Amshula for you all…
She is standing in front of a big ancestral house, smiling and guessing the names of the people who are greeting her. There is an unusual number of people outside the house. She sighs and looks towards you. Yes you! who is reading this now.
I love coming back to this place. I have spent all my summer holidays here and there are so many memories I have here.
Amshula gets in. An old man in mid 50s year comes out and takes the bag from her. This is Antonichan, her mom’s younger brother. Even though he is in his 50s the pace with which he talks only God could understand. He used to be an influential man in this small village of Poozhithode, but after he retired he isn’t taking things that well. Amshula is kinda scared of him because… you would know soon.
Amu ethiyo? Yatra engane ondarinu?…
Manikuttan samayathu ethiyille?
Manikuttan, a 20 year old boy, comes and carries her bag-pack to a room. Amshula goes to another room. She recollects…
15 year old Amshula sitting in front of an old computer. This house was the first in Poozhithode to have a phone, car,TV and later internet. Remember the days when you had to connect the phone to your computer and wait for hours to get the connection and then pray that by the time the telephone bill came you had to leave the country. That’s why she was scared of Antonichan and for many other reasons of her own.
Anyway coming back to her thoughts.
Little Amu is chatting with some strangers.
You never reveal your true identity and those days nobody was interested in chatting with a 15 year old. Yahoo messenger chat rooms were where you discovered many things.
coolguy64: Are you a virgin?
coolguy64: You have never been close to a guy?
LovelyAnamika: No… I’m saving for the person I will marry.
coolguy64: Not even kiss?
coolguy64: This is crazy and stupid.
LovelyAnamika: I’m a one man woman…
Little Amshula is waiting for his reply. He in turn sends her a dick picture.
coolguy64: Not even now?
Little Amshula gets scared and ends the chat and shuts the computer.
Right now it all seems so different. Amshula wished she could hold the innocence of her teenage. She looks at her younger self in awe.
Can’t believe I said that… One man woman… Hmmm…
Older Amshula shuts the door and looks at you.
Like I said a lot of memories…
Amshula bends down to remove her shoes and socks. She continues talking to you.
I’m not a virgin anymore… Married… well not yet…
She shows you her right hand. There is a sparkle.
You can hear the door opening and younger Amshula runs past her.
Ooohhh…. Slow down kid…
Older Amshula follows her to the main door. You can see younger Amshula run into the neighbour’s house.
When Amshula used to visit her mom’s home, her only company was the neighbour kid, George. They had a very unique relationship. They first met when she was six months old and he was 2 year old and then continued to meet for every time her parents visited home. Oh I forgot to tell you, she was born in Dubai and raised there till she was in the 5th standard then the family moved to Delhi and she was there till something happened.
Back to her thoughts….
Younger Amshula enters George’s house. She is panting.
George’s mom comes to the main door. Amu was extremely close to Clara aunty — a relatively short woman with afro curls. Amu always used to wonder how she would manage to comb that hair and the only time she felt slightly happy about her hair. She had the warm smile and her skin was soft and so huggable. She wore floral printed nighties and smelt coconut oil. Amu had to wait for Sundays to see her out of those nighties. Clara aunty was an amazing cook and Amu used to skip meals at her place and rush Clara aunty place..
This time she was rushing in for some other reason…
Hey Aunty, George ondo?
( Is George here?)
Amu… enthu pati? Avan roommil aayirikkum…
(Amu.. what happened? He must be in his room)
Clara aunty shouts his name. Its amazing how this tiny body could produce such volume.
George… thazhe vaa.. Amu vannitondu…
(George! come down. Amu is here)
Amma eppozha varunnathu?
(when will your mom come?)
Vacation enjoy cheyyunnundo?
(Are you enjoying your vacation?)
George comes out of his room.
If I have to describe George at this age. He is shooting up. I think he got it from his dad and his hair from his mom and puberty isn’t being kind to him… pimples and random hair popping on his face.
You wanna come home and play cards…
George looks at his mom, who is standing right there looking at both of them.
I don’t know… How… To play cards…
Come… I’ll teach you…
(Whispers to him)
I have to tell you something…
George gets petrified. He looks back at his mom. She is smiling..
This had happened 15 years back. George and Amushula haven’t met each for almost 8 years.
Amshula walks to the main door and looks at George’s house. They have new neighbours. She wonders where they would have been. She looks at you.
Her thoughts are interrupted by an annoying neighbour. As Amshula is blessed with a lot of relatives, her mother has 7 siblings. We are going to simplify everything by numbering them.
Amuu… Ammmumma vilikyanu…
(Amuuu….. Grandmother is calling you!!!)
(Looks at you) Will save it for later.
Amshula goes towards Ammumma’s room. She looks at Ammumma. It’s been long since she came home. The grandmother is lying on the bed. The last time she had met her Ammumma was with all the kids from the neighbourhood and teaching them to play Kilithattu. Its something similar to kabadi but slightly less aggressive.
Ammumma… Sushikkane… Kunju kutti annu na vijarum. Ethre perre a veshamapiche…
(Ammuma you should be careful. You are not a kid… See how much trouble you have created for all…)
Ammumma is lying silently looking at the fan on the ceiling. Amshula walks in.
Aunt 2 looks at Amshula and makes space for her.
Ammumma doesn’t remember faces clearly.
Amshula feels bad. She walks close to Ammuma.
She looks at Amshula and smiles. She calls her to sit next to her. Amshula goes and hugs her. There a lot of people. Most of them she doesn’t recognise. Amu got her looks from her Ammumma. She has aged gracefully. At 81 and still has some black hair. She always used to say, “chathalum chamanju kidakknam”. Amu has never seen a single wrinkle on her mundu or chatta. I wonder 10 years from now if anyone will wear this traditional wear. It also surprises me that those days women were comfortable wearing white all the time; this story isn’t about what I feel it’s about Amshula and her little world. Sorry for the deviation.
Amshula sits next to Ammumma.
Clara aunty town vittil anno?
(Is Clara aunty still in their town house?)
Makano? (Her son?)
Chennaiyil anennu thonnu.
(I think… he is in Chennai.. I’m not sure…)
Aara avide thamassikkunne?
(Who stays here?)
They have given it for rent and they visit once in a while.
Amu… get her something to cover.
Amshula gets up.
Check her trunk it will be there…
Amshula opens Ammumma’s trunk. On the top she sees the Christmas card Amshula had sent her.
Aha… You still have my Christmas card.
Amshula opens it. She picks the next card. It is from George. She looks at it for a while.
Amshula looks at you.
People say you don’t know what you have got until it’s gone, the truth is you knew what you had, you just thought you will never lose it.
Amshula keeps the cards back and starts looking for the sheet.
Leave it… Kozhachu edalle…. Bring it from the other room.
Ammumma calls out for Shyamala, an old lady who is supposed to take care of Ammumma. We all wonder who is taking care of whom.
Shyamala… pothappu kondava…
Ammuma looks at Amshula.
Oru gunavum illa…
Amshula makes face and shuts the trunk.
One of the aunts interprets her train of thoughts.
Congratulations. We got to know… Show us his picture.
By then rest of the ladies gather around her. Its funny how news spreads in … Even before they never needed whatsapp or Facebook but somehow everyone knew everything.
That’s your engagement ring right? I understood.
Show us his picture.
By then Amshula’s phone rings. It’s Karan. Shyamala walks in with the sheet.
Amshula looks at Ammumma.
Njan eppo varam..
PS: Rest we will meet next week. I’m sorry for doing this let me know in the comments below where do you think this story is heading…. I love you all. Please don’t be mad at me… this isn’t easy for me.
But I was impatient and I travelled almost to the end of the world to get it. If you are in Mumbai Himalaya Fine Art is the best place for all art supplies. When I reached there, they told me they have home delivery facility. So that too….
Address: Himalaya Fine Art, 2 & 3 Himalaya House 79 Palton Road Opposite Sir JJ College of Architecture CST, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001
I’m going to attach the link to the video below… Let me know what you think.
Years ago (don’t go too far) I may have been 5… I remember snippets of the incident but to keep it interesting I might bring out the writer in me… Please bear with me…
PS: All the content you read here is just meant to be humour and anything taken out of context will be subject to punishment.
So… ya… I was playing in our living room. Most probably it was a Sunday because both my parents were at home. My brother, Ashish was having some conversation with my parents. After a while he stormed into one of the rooms, took some time and got out with his school bag. He was 7 then. He got out angrily and on the way out looked at me and said “Archana chal…pack whatever you need…“
Still unaware of what had happened… I went straight to my room, took out my school bag… You have no idea how much I hated to touch my school bag during holidays….
Anyway “pack whatever you need… Hmm“…. First thing first, threw all the books out, filled my bag with clothes, toys and a drawing book and stuff… Zipped it and was all set to go….
My parents and Ashish were still standing at the door… Dad looked down at us and asked me “You sure you want to go?“ I looked at my brother, looked back at my dad and nodded…
He said, “okay then…“
We took our first step out… I thought by then someone would jump in and stop us… But that didn’t happen… Now we had to stick to the plan… My brother looked furious hence I couldn’t ask him hua kya?
“Stop them” mom screamed at pa… I turned back… My house looked like 90s movie… Where my mom was pleading my dad… And he was stubborn. “Keh Diya na, bas keh diya…”
We walked slow enough for them to stop us but fast enough to protect our ego… How you ask your friend to hold your hand when you are about to enter a fight… Something like that…
Now we were a few stairs down… I asked my brother where we are going… And to my surprise he said, “I don’t know… We’ll figure out once we reach the main gate… “ We live in East Delhi… Outside our apartment’s main gate you will only find goons… I knew if I left him now and went back home I would be tagged with Judas’ name for the rest of my life and if I continue walking… We’ll be kidnapped or killed for sure… I chose to get killed… We take betraying damn seriously….
We were two floors down when we heard a dog barking… Well they say dog is man’s best friend…. but I wasn’t sure if I was ready for another commitment…
Ashish stopped and I followed… I could hear my heart beat… We both turned and ran…
As we were about to reach home… Our little ego peeped in… Back to frown face… I didn’t even know what I was mad about! Grr…
When we reached our home the door was shut… We were expecting them to come looking for us… Clearly they didn’t care… So my brother decided to convert the lobby area as our new home… We sat outside the house… Took everything we had in our bag and set it up… ghar-ghar has never been more real than this. After a while my mom opened the door… She saw her two tiny angels making a mess outside her home…. We looked at her and continued to do whatever we were doing…. She went back…
Pa and ma took turns to check… But no one called us in…. Nor did we bother…
Once I remember Mom saying it’s been a while let us call them in… And my pa like typical Bollywood fathers said I didn’t ask anyone to leave hence I’m not calling anyone in… If they want they can come in….
God has gifted him Anupam Kher’s face but Om Puri’s heart… (I’m purely referring to the characters they have played on screen.)
I looked at my brother he was adamant about not going in… I love my brother… but sometimes I feel love is stupid…
After a while I could smell fish fry… By then I was sure they would call us in… So I slowly started packing things… The first thing you see when you enter my parent’s apartment is the dining table… I told my brother pack your things it’s lunch time…. No parent would let their kids starve. My parents opened the door wide and sat down for lunch and ate shamelessly… I looked at my brother. We both unpacked our bags… By now ghar-ghar wasn’t fun anymore…
They left the food on the table….
It was 4 in the evening and my neighbour could hear our tummy growling. So slowly we got up… Packed our things and went straight to the dining table… I don’t remember if we washed our hands… But I still remember that meal…
No one asked us any question. We continued as nothing had happened in the first place…
Prodigal son and daughter were back home…
And I knew either my pa was watching too many Bollywood films… or Our parents weren’t normal…
As I’m writing her name, my hands are shivering. She was one of the most strict teachers we had in the junior school. She used to teach history. Most of the time students were confused if her anger was towards the history, the subject, or the present students. There was nothing that could make her happy.
Fortunately she never taught me. Every year our prayers only used to be subject “padah le per class teacher mat banana.”
Other teachers used to warn us about her. The old joke about how mothers used to put their kids to sleep “bache soh ja warna gabbar a jayega” the effect was almost the same.
But I was happy… Coz when I was in 7th she was neither my history teacher nor my class teacher.
But God wasn’t happy about it… So he made her my house coordinator.
The only reason why I used to go to school was to be on the stage and God took that joy from me…
Coordinators have to closely work with the house students for all the extra curricular activities. This was the only time I wished her to be my class teacher.
Anyway we had to meet her for some competitions.
She was mad at us for being 5 minutes late and the rules were laid well.
We didn’t realise whether we were rehearsing hard to win or not to get scolded by Ms X. Anyway days passed… and we saw things we never saw before, she smiles and sings old Hindi songs… She brought food and shared with us… and one day as we were rehearsing our dance steps, I think I saw her move a bit.
And just before the final act, she hugged us and told us to just have fun… Fun? She said fun?! , I thought.
That’s when I realised art moves people and if you look close everyone has a soft side.
That thought lasted until the day she came as a substitute teacher to my class.
I woke up and called all my cousins and friends who had a boy child to share the information. I don’t know if that’s how they wanted to start their day. One of them had a one year old. I hope I didn’t change the way she would look at her son. If you don’t know, new moms are extremely paranoid and new dads are like like a deer in headlights.
But I was sure I was saving the world.
But slowly thoughts started taking over me… If I have a girl child, I would know somewhat when she would get her periods, I know everything about female hygiene. I asked myself, “Do fathers talk to their sons about hygiene? The only thing I remember my parents screaming at my brother was, ‘ poyi kulikyada.’” (Go take shower.)
Anyway, I would not take seriously when my girl child’s hormones act up and she would turn into a monster. I would be able to empathise with her when she would have period cramps. But I would never be able to understand how bad it hurts when a cricket ball hits the crotch of a boy… I would never know if I should tell him more than “poyi kulikada” and if so, what? and at what age would I start seeing fevicol…
I had to talk to someone who is more experienced. There is something about me that you would have realised by now… I’m sort of a control freak I need to know everything about parenting before I even think of having a child. So no sex till then… I don’t care if my man turn 35 and fat… I need to know everything…
Once when I was in Delhi, my brother and sister-in-law came over for weekend stay at my parents’ place. In Delhi, after dinner we all sit around to catch up with each other’s life. My sister in law is a North-Indian so we have mixed all three languages and created something of our own to communicate.
My brother had shifted his job recently. My mother and brother both work in health care industry so we had our traditional debate on whose hospital was better… That is when I remembered my quest. My mother is a woman who has a boy child! Who better than her to answer all my questions….
So I cleared my throat… and started “Mama… last week Abish’s friends were over….”
I didn’t know my mom’s eye could open this big…. My brother tried to change the topic but I was adamant. I continued, “Ma, did you ever see fevicol in Ashish’s bed and what did you do?“
My mother started laughing. My brother sprang up from the seat and moved to the sofa area screaming, “Yeh pagal ho gayi hai“. (She has gone mad.)
I didn’t care if I made him uncomfortable. I turned to my mother and asked one more time. She was almost breathless. My dad politely got up and moved to the sofa to join my brother. He took out the newspaper and started reading. I should remind you it was almost 11 pm and last time I checked, dad reads papers in the morning.
The distance from our dinning table to sofa is just 10 steps, so if they actually wanted to avoid the topic, the men could have moved to the bedrooms. By now my sister in law also joined the conversation. She asked my brother, “Tera weird place kahan tha Ashish?” (where was your weird place?)
My house by then looked like Priyadarshan film’s climax sequence.
I looked at my mom again. She said,”Ende kuttikal valuthakumbol othiri chodyangal chodikkum ennu enikku ariyaamaayirunnu. Pakshe ingane onnu prateekshichilla.” (I knew my kids will grow up and ask a lot of questions but I never expected this.)
My dad by then decided to somehow end this mess so he looked at me still holding the paper and said, “Archana this is sin.”
He dropped the S word. In Catholic faith everything is a sin. The sin list is so long that no mortal can ever make it to heaven by living in this world. But that’s a topic we’ll save it for later.
I took a deep breath. My brother mentally gave a high-five to my dad for saving the day. Everyone was quiet except for my mom who was still laughing. I was thinking of a comeback…
My mom’s laugh increased. She looked at my dad and said, “Oh, pinne oru punyavalan. Onnum cheyathe oru aal.” (Oh, a saint! As if you haven’t done it)
I was in shock. Everyone started laughing. My dad was still confused what to do.I can worry about my son but in no way I wanna think about my dad’s weird places.