Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Will her hope be fulfilled????

Last night I chatted with a friend of mine. He casually mentioned how he visited a friend’s mother. This friend (let me call him Mahesh) of his died a couple of years back. I was really moved when I learnt that the mother’s eyes filled up with tears when it was time for them to leave. It was that thought that disturbed me. A mother who is still undergoing the pain of her son’s loss is very sad.

I have only heard about this Mahesh and have seen his profile and his picture in Orkut. Though Mahesh is a stranger to me, there is something common in us. So I have a kind of bond with Mahesh.

I couldn’t sleep last night as my thoughts kept wandering from one incident to another that took place in my life. And in course of time I had woven a string of thoughts.....the good ones and the bad ones. It moved from my childhood to my parents’ incompatibility to my rebellious teenage days to my adulthood to death of my close friend, to Mahesh then to my father’s bankruptcy to the separation of my family members and to my lost brother and finally to my own Mum.

I was just wondering how painful it is for mothers to accept the death of their children. It is even more painful to lose contact with their children. When a parent loses a child due to an accident or a suicide it is very shocking. It may take years for them to come over that fact. It is even more painful to see mothers going into a depression or ending up with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Why is that I keep thinking about Mahesh? Well Mahesh and my friend Farid (name changed) died on 15th March. One was a suicide and the other an accident. One died 2 years back while the other twenty two years back. The mother of one is still living in her son’s memory while the other died of Alzheimer’s disease. There is only one relief….both of them knew that their children were never going to come back.

My mother is living her life thinking about her first born son with whom everyone lost contacts. Nobody knows anything about him and even if they do they are not willing to let the family know in which condition he is in. My brother left India to join my father in 1983. He was a drug addict and he went beyond Mum’s control. Mum thought it was best for him to be with Dad. He went abroad and became worse. Things went totally out of control. All that he needed was money and he did anything for it. That is my brother!!!!

Since 1985 nobody knows what has happened to him. No relatives of mine have seen him. We haven’t seen him since 1983. Though we visited there we had no idea about his whereabouts. Every time one of us goes abroad, Mum begs us

“Mole/ mone, Saleem mone kurichu onnu aneshikanne” [daughter/son, please enquire about Saleem].
Mum will keep contacting us if we came to know about his whereabouts. When we return we can see the disappointment on Mum’s face. My Mum’s condition is even worse than that of Mahesh’s or Farid’s mothers. They know/knew that their children will never return. Here a mother waits eagerly for her son’s return. She keeps aside a property with the hope that he will come back some day. I know for sure that my brother is never going to return. He has lost all human feelings and he is into some kind of trap. We can never tell Mum about it. We always avoid the topic of my brother but Mum comes up with the topic every now and then. The saddest part is Mum always keeps saying,

“Njan marikunnathinu mumpu eniku Saleem mone ne onu kannan pattumo?” [“Will I ever be able to see my son Saleem at least before I die?”]

I have no answer to this question of Mum. I cannot tell her the truth. Truth is very disturbing and it is better not to disturb her mind. Mum goes into bouts of depression when someone asks her about my brother. I don’t think I could have felt sad if I heard that my brother died. Then there is nothing to look forward to. Here I am letting my old parents live with a false hope that he will come back some day. I really don’t know if that will ever happen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Christmas tide is back and there is no feeling of Christmas yet. I find everything becoming monotonous. As the years roll by the excitement and wait for Christmas has faded.

The earliest Christmas I remember is my Christmas abroad. There was a big Christmas tree and with full of decorations. We children were given duties like arranging the Christmas tree, hanging ornaments, golden stars, silver stars, teeny weeny Santa Claus’, lights and a whole lot of decorations on the doors and windows. I can remember Christmas cards of various hues and sizes. As I grew up a bit more my attraction was towards the people who came for carols. They came at night with musical instruments and sang wonderful carols. I admired the ‘Big White Santa Claus’ and his choir.

I loved Christmas for new clothes. It was a great pleasure to wear new clothes for mass. The midnight mass was elaborate and it took a very long time. Though I was physically in the church my mind could be on the cake and wine that was awaiting us or on the new clothes of my friends.

Another attraction about Christmas was all the wonderful goodies at Mum’s ‘godown’ (We called it a ‘godown’ because there were so many varieties of cakes, biscuits and other eatables.) The food was never kept outside. It was always under Mum’s control. The special food was also an attraction. Dad used to get so many gift baskets and gift hampers. A grand party would be thrown out for his friends. (We children got gifts from all those who attended the party. It would be toys or books or big slabs of chocolates.)It was mainly booze parties and many would be finally sleeping on our beds until they woke up with hangovers.
There was an instance when one of Dad’s friends was so drunk that he went into the wash and fell there sleeping. My brothers and I peeped at regular intervals and we enjoyed the scene like watching a monkey inside a cage.

By the time we came to India things changed. Christmas became a small time affair. The carols were sung in different pitches and tones (Singers were tone deaf). It was mostly Malayalam hymns that they sang. The Santa Claus was pathetic. He was a true symbol of poverty. The malnourished Santa with a plastic mask and a red night dress, red cap, with a worn out bathroom slippers happily danced. As he dances to the tunes his stomach wobbled. The Santa here didn’t have gloves or shoes. The dark hands and dirty feet were not at all appealing.

Parties too became a small time affair. I enjoyed baking with my Mum. I was always ready to help her in icing the cooking and cakes. I used to love (I no longer do) licking the vessels for all the leftovers of icing and cake batter.

Things changed slowly. Each one of us left home, first for our studies and later for employment and to settle with our families. The old charm of Christmas is not there now. It is many years since I attended a mass. I am not particular about new clothes. It is many years since I bought a new dress for Christmas. I used to bake cakes and cookies but I no longer do it. This time I did not even buy Christmas cards for my immediate relatives or my close friends. I really cannot understand why I have become so indifferent and keep myself blocked from other people. I know I can send e card but does e cards give you the same kind of feeling that you get when you see the handwriting of the person you love????? Never!!!!!.....Nothing can replace that feeling!!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How I stripped Koonan

After a long time I went to visit my parents this afternoon. While having lunch, my parents were telling my daughter about my 'heroic deeds' in my younger days. One incident that I really found funny was one which took place in my grandmother’s house. Though I quite forgot about it came back fresh to my mind.How could I forget that commotion that was created for my unwanted curiosity???

This took place much before I started school. I must have been three or four years. It was a time when we had come to India for our vacations [my brothers were studying then]. My grandmother had servants and they were all from two families who lived behind her house. There was one particular child called “Koonan” who must have been four or five years older to me. He was always dressed up like a girl. He wore a lungi and had a bindhi on his forehead. He always wore earrings made of silver foil from cigarette packets. He wore glass bangles and chains. I was treated with so much respect and I somehow had a fascination for this queer child. I was fond of his bangles and chains. He would play with me and at times would do odd jobs for my grandmother. I always thought he was a girl.

I kept asking Mum, my grandma and relatives if he was a girl and they kept telling me that he was a boy. Since my knowledge in Malayalam was just very limited I did not know “Koonan” was a masculine gender. I thought that it was the name of that friend of mine. I never believed them when they told me that he was a boy. So I asked him if he was a girl. He blushed and bent his head very girl-like. So I decided to find it out myself.

One day he came home and called me to go out and play with him. Again I raised my doubt. He just smiled at me. I went near him and pulled off his lungi and found that he was a boy. The lungi was in my hand and I heard a shout from my grandma,

“Xinaaaaa entha ee kanikunne?”

“Ammachiii Koonan boy aaaaa” I replied like Archimedes discovery of the law of flotation

My grandma was not at all happy at my discovery instead she scolded me for pulling off his lungi. She was furious and pinched me hard. She took the lungi from my hand and gave it to the already running Koonan. Mum chided me for doing that and she said it was wrong to pull off another person’s dress. My grandma kept grumbling for days together.

When I think of it now I guess my curiosity knew no bounds. I think my grandmother must have been angry to find her grandchild trying to molest a boy. She must have heard only about males molesting females. She had found her granddaughter to be different.

I asked mum if she had any idea what this boy was doing and mum said he was running a teashop in his wife’s place. Anyway that was my first and last [I hope] stripping!!!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

John and his ways

The other day in class I told my students the attitude of the present generation. I casually mentioned that the basic manners of how to behave in class were to be taught in the lower classes. Immediately a boy said,

“Ellaveryum kollanam teacher.” [Everyone should be killed, teacher.]

“Ayyo angane kollanayirunnu enkil nammal arum kanillayirunu allo,” [If everyone were to be killed then none of us should have been alive.] I replied but felt very disturbed.

John was a son of a goonda who was famous for making country bombs. He was called “Bomb Nelson”. He was a criminal and had killed many people. The local politicians used Nelson for their selfish purposes. One day Nelson was attacked by a rival group. They did not kill him. Instead they amputated his right hand and left leg and left him to suffer the rest of his life. Nelson survived the ordeal but committed suicide after a couple of years.

I noticed John the second day in class as the teachers were hotly discussing about a son of a thug. They painted a very bad picture about him. The next day in class I asked students their names and found out who John was. He was a thin boy with a long face with forlorn look. He was dusky. He was very quiet in class.

I started teaching and he listened very attentively in class. The subject I teach has mathematical calculations. John was always first to show me his book after working out the problems correctly.[He is good at mental calculations and doesn't have a calculator] His eyes beamed when I wrote “very good” in his note book. At times if I forgot he would beg,

“Oru very good thaa teacheree.” {Please give me a very good, teacher]

And when I write that he would give me a very gratifying smile. I somehow liked John. The other teachers had problems with him. Every time they complained I would justify him. I spoke to him and he said that his mother worked as a maid in one of the Arab countries. He was living with his aunt. I did not ask him about his father but he said that his father committed suicide. His main problem was that people looked at him as a goonda’s son and I could understand the ordeal he was going through. This was in the first year.

John is now a second year student and he has changed. A boy who was always one of the toppers in my subject started failing for it. After the first unit test I was very disappointed to correct his answer script. I asked what his problem was and he said he did not have a textbook. I gave him a book. In the second unit test he failed again. I started noticing that he was becoming noisy in class and was not paying attention. I had to keep calling his name every now and then. I feel sorry for John. He is an intelligent boy but has got in some kind of bad company. His eyes have the anger towards the world who scorns him. Certain days he would be very quiet and on certain days he would be noisy. He keeps bunking classes.

I do not know if he is going to turn out like his father. His statement that everyone has to be killed and the vengeance he has towards the world was very clear from his face and tone. Does he think that his parents should have killed him as a boy????? Or does he hate the world that scorns him???? I am not sure how to deal with John but I really want to save him from his present ways so that he’ll study and get some kind of employment and leave this city for good..