Exceptional Jeff

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Jeff, is a typical American. But he is not a Native American. I am not that good to guess the ancestry of people, especially white Americans. Black Americans will have root somewhere in Africa; Brown Americans will be from anywhere in Asia. But white, if they are not Native, they may be from anywhere in the world.

I don’t remember exactly when I met Jeff for the first time.

He is very thin, about 5’ 5” tall and probably weighed 150 lbs. He may be in his late fifties.

He always wore a battered hat. His hair is mostly grey. His eyes are the most prominent feature. They were sky blue.
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He came to our house once to deliver some firewood for the winter, but eventually ended up helping me in anything and everything I needed help for. He has a full time job in a shop from 8 am to 2 pm, and when he is free, he did odd jobs for anybody who needed a helping hand. He is a jack of all Trades.

One afternoon he came to my house to fix some leaking pipe. I was busy in the kitchen frying some fish. He liked the smell of the fried fish with its masala of red pepper, black pepper, garlic and Vinegar. So he asked me what I am cooking.

I am always enthusiastic to share my Indian Culture with anybody. So I asked him, “Do you want some to taste?”

He was not that keen, but when I compelled, he agreed to taste. I gave him one piece of fried King fish. It was boneless. He broke a piece and put in his mouth…the rest of his actions were very fast. I could see his pathetic look, he didn’t know whether to swallow or spit it out. For him the masala was too much, especially the pepper taste. He swallowed what he put in his mouth & then in a hurry took few swings of Coco Cola on the table in a gulp. His face changed color. All red! It was red like a Tomato. I felt very bad. I didn’t mean to put him in a difficult situation like this.

“Sorry,  Jeff! I didn’t know that it would end up like this.”

“Hey, it’s not your fault. I am not used to spices at all. That’s the problem.”

After that episode I made sure to give him only sweet stuff to taste.

Jeff doesn’t ask for his money after each project. When it adds up to 100s he will bring his Bill.

One day he brought his dog with him. It was a big one and very friendly. It was actually too big I was scared and closed my eyes tightly when it came near me to smell me out. I wondered how Jeff feeds this big Dog.

Some days in the middle of the work, Jeff will go to get nails or something like that he needed for the repair from a shop in the town. Then sometimes, he will not be back that day.

I was upset one day when Jeff disappeared in the middle of the work. Next day when he came, I confronted him about his vanishing act. Later I found out the secret of this. There is a bar near the shop where Jeff went to buy stuff and bar was Jeff’s weakness. Once inside the bar, he forgets everything else and goes home happily after his drinks.

So I told him, “Jeff, there is Beer in my fridge, anytime you need, please help yourself. You don’t have to ask me.”

It reduced his vanishing acts, but did not stop it fully.

Bar is a Bar! I knew.

At times, Jeff helped me to move furniture and plants from the house to the Patio or bring them from outside to inside the house when weather changed to spring or fall. When Jeff carries them all by himself, I often wondered how a thin person like him can carry that much heavy load. When he carries the big plants outside, it reminded me of a small Ant carrying a load ten times heavier than its own weight. If I try to help him, he wouldn’t let me, saying that women are weaklings. He had carried more weight than this. This is nothing comparing to that.

Half of the stuff he tells me, I don’t understand because of his accent. He couldn’t understand most of the things I told him because of my accent. But we never had a communication problem, somehow we understood each other. He had a limp, when he walked. One day he told me it was the aftermath of a cow charging at him, when he was in his twenties.

In that accident, he broke his back bone and had to spend few months in the hospital. Even now, he can’t sleep on a flat bed. So he sleeps in a “Recliner”.

“Anyway I can’t sleep with my wife. She will spring out of the bed if a Telephone rings at night. So we keep our phone off its cradle at night. With my snoring she will not be able to sleep at all, if I sleep in the same bed with her.”

He made me laugh!

Once or twice in a year Jeff goes for two weeks’ vacations. His father-in-law has a Cabin near a lake.

When he goes there for vacation, if he is not fishing, he may be fixing that cabin. Sometimes he goes to another big Lake near Canada. One day when he came back after a fishing trip, I asked him.

“How many fish did you catch?”

“May be 10 or 12 between my grandchildren & I.”

“So what did you do with the fish? Did you fry them?”

“No, I let go off them.”

“Then why do you catch them, if you don’t like to eat them?”

“For the fun of it…”

I couldn’t understand the fun in catching the fish & letting it go… But most Americans do that.

“Do, you like fresh fish?” He asked.

“Yes, I do. I grew up near the Sea, so fresh fish are readily available and they are cheaper than meat. So we used to eat fish on a daily basis.”

“Ok, then I will bring some for you, next time when I come back after fishing.” He promised.

After that, any time, when Jeff went for fishing he made sure to bring me few fish. Also I made sure, to send “fish Molly” which is the mildest fish curry to him, prepared with his fish.

Our “Unniyappam” (banana fritters), “Ethakkaappam” (plantain fritters), “Bread Caramel pudding”, “Aviyal” (Vegetable Mix) etc. are few of the stuff he liked. I was happy to pack them for him to give his wife too.

Once there was big thunderstorm and power was out. Gas was also off. Electric Company informed that power will be re-stored only after 4 or 5 days.

‘The food in the Refrigerator or the Freezer is not going to survive.’ I thought.

We called almost all the big stores nearby to enquire about the availability of a Generator big enough to run the Refrigerator and the Freezer at least. But all of them had run out of Generators small or big suitable for a home.

Roads were littered by fallen trees & other debris of thunderstorm and not yet in good condition to travel.

‘What am I going to do with the food? Two days they will survive, but after 4 or 5 days, for sure, all those foods should be good only to throw away. what a waste!’ I thought.

I thought about the poor people in this world. Somehow, I have to save the food. But I didn’t know how to.

There were not any cars or other vehicles in the road which was near to our house. Because of the bad conditions of the road, people may be staying home.

Why take risk? Then I heard the sound of a truck coming to my driveway. Who would take a risk and travel in this condition? I was surprised.

I saw Jeff with his small Truck in my driveway. There was a small Generator at the back of his Truck.

He just walked in and announced.

“You guys will need a Generator with your Refrigerator & Freezer. So I borrowed one from my friend and brought for you.”

He was an angel sent by God at my difficult time.

My eyes welled up. I just touched his hands and said nothing. He understood what I meant. There was no need of saying anything.

But other than all these things happening in our friendship, something he told me later changed all my opinions about him. One day casually he told me that even though his children are all grown up and left home, one friend lives with him.

“How long he has been living with you?”

“Actually, he is not a friend of mine. He was a homeless person and he wanted a place to stay. He is living with us for more than 10 years.”

“After few months, I added a room to my house. He lives in that room. He goes to work and makes a living for himself.”

That conversation turned everything upside down for me. I thought of myself. I live in a big house with 5 bedrooms.  Since my kids are all grown up and moved away to faraway places finding jobs they liked, not all the rooms in my house are occupied now. But will I ever have the humbleness or broad mindedness to share my house with one or two homeless people, anytime in my lifetime? I am a Christian. A Christian is one who follows Christ teachings. I felt ashamed of myself. My respect & love for Jeff grew up to the sky. Jeff may be a Christian by birth. May be he had attended the services in a church with his parents when he was a kid. But I don’t think he attends any church now-a-days. What difference does it make by going to church? I don’t know any more…

For all my gratitude to Jeff, I started remembering Jeff & his family in my daily prayers. Then I thought, Jeff doesn’t need anybody’s prayers, not mine for sure, his name is already written in St. Peter’s Good Book in Heaven in golden letters and also his home in Heaven will not be a small one, but it will be a Mansion.

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Slavery or child labor at the age of six or seven?

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I can’t hold it any more… I have to tell somebody. What a shame…in front of the whole class that Joseph Sir had to say it to Leelavathi Teacher…. It was just an end of term examination.. not the year ending examination.

Yesterday was Mathematics and today we have Social Studies. Each kid had the Black slate in front. Everybody was busy minding their own business of writing the answers of the questions written on the Black Board. Our slates were submitted after each exam & graded by the Teacher then itself.

It was very quiet. Occasional scratching of slate pencil on the slate or a small cough or movement of feet on the cement floor, shuffling of clothes when the kids moved/shifted on their seat broke that quietness in between.

Joseph Sir was the supervising Teacher. He was sitting in front of his Teacher’s desk. He was entering the marks in the register. He was our Mathematics Teacher. Leelavathi Teacher came inside the class room to pick up something from Joseph Sir.

I was looking at the Black Board for the next question. Accidentally my eyes met with Joseph Sir’s eyes. As if burnt, I looked down. I know that I didn’t do well in Mathematics. So I didn’t want to face him. What a shame!

“Leelavathi Teacher, Do you know what Gigi got for Mathematics?”

There was a hidden mockery in his voice.

“Oh my God! Please …please don’t say…”  I closed my eyes & prayed. “Why is he so loud! “

Class became so quiet… no more sounds…not even the scratching of slate pencil.. nobody was breathing even… Everybody was waiting for the next words coming out of Joseph Sir’s mouth.

“It is a big Elephant Egg” everybody laughed loudly..

I could see the laughing face of Leelavathi Teacher even if I was looking down.

Leelavathi Teacher liked me. I knew that. My God.. all her impression about smartness had gone down the drain. I wished the Earth would split open & swallow me then & there itself. But nothing happened. My eyes welled up. I wiped my eyes with the end of my frock, tried my best to do it secretly, so that nobody would know that I was crying. Never in my life, I felt that much humiliation.

All the way back home, I was thinking & visualizing what happened in the class. What would I do? What would happen when my father know about it. I couldn’t tell anybody in my house about this…. I would die suffocating in my thoughts. I felt like somebody putting a dagger through my heart and piercing it again and again…

Oh my God I had no friends. I had nobody to confide my fear & guilt. I brought shame for my father and for my family as well by getting zero for Mathematics examination. I could have waited till the class Teacher gave the Progress Card. Now I had to suffer much earlier than that.

I had to confide it to somebody.  Otherwise I would die. My heart was aching so badly, I thought it was going to break.

I can’t hold it any more… I have to tell somebody. What a shame…

My Twin brothers are six years older than me. I reached a decision.  I could trust them. If I told them not to tell anybody, they would keep my secret as long I wanted. They were trustworthy. That’s what brothers were for. I could trust them. So I told them about what happened in the class. They promised not to tell anybody.

“ See, they are my brothers, they love me, they are trustworthy, they are everything a sister can dream of…”  My stress level decreased tremendously once I shared my secret with my brothers.

Everything went as I wished.

Next morning, I was just waking up; the first order came from my youngest twin brother,

“Go & bring a coffee for me from kitchen”

Second twin chimed, “for me too”

I was the youngest, pampered by everybody and so spoiled too.

My answer was fast, “I can’t”

They repeated the orders again and I repeated my answer louder than before.

“Ediiiiiiiiiiiii      Do you want us to say ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ”.

I wished to drop dead that very second.

“They were not that loud, so nobody would have overheard. Thank God! “ I thought.

I marched to the kitchen in a run and brought coffee for both of them. There was a look of supremacy on the faces of my Twin brothers. There after I had to run a lot of errands like that for both of them, like fetching anything they want from anywhere in the house. I obeyed each & every order I got from them. I started blaming myself for trusting these two culprits. But still my first word was always, “can’t” Then they had to remind me the letter “Z”. Literally,  I became a slave to both of them.

One day I was sitting near my Mother, Twins were around.

They gave me an order to fetch something. As usual I said, “can’t”

They made the sound, “ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ”

I jumped up fast, to do what they asked. My mother heard it and knew there was something fishy going on. So she asked them, “What is ZZZZZZZZZZ?”

Not a word came out from their mouths.

“Hm, they kept their word.” I felt relieved.  But my mother felt as if they were hiding something from her.

She questioned them again. Both chorused “Nothing!”

She turned to me.. “You, tell me, what is going on? “

I said innocently, “nothing”.

She held me closely and asked me again, “you better tell me or ….”

I looked at her eyes & knew that she was deadly serious about the whole thing and there was no way I could let go off lying to the teeth.

I cried first, then I told her everything.. She listened patiently.

I was expecting immediate scolding or caning, but instead she held me in her hands and told me, “It is all right. It is not a big deal… If you were weak in Mathematics this time, you will study harder for next time and become the first in your class.”

Those words were the sweetest things my Mother had ever told me.

All my shame, ache and the slavery…. all lifted off me and I felt what is peace of mind after a three weeks’ agony for the first time.

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Talking about myself?

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Talking about myself?… when it is a serious question, it is very difficult to explain who I am.

I was just a kid, born in an ordinary family, not that rich to own a Car or a cycle. Most probably my birth was an accident. When my Mom was relaxing for almost  five+ years after her last delivery of twins which were a handful to her, here comes another one and it was a girl and the top it all she was very dark…

When my Mom was bed-ridden, one day, when I was lying down near her, I asked her “Isn’t true that I was an accident, right?

She didn’t say anything, but I saw a smile on her face assuring me that I guessed right. Then I asked her, “then, how did you feel when you saw that it was a girl and dark in complexion too?”

There was another smile on her face to answer that question.. But I insisted, “No, no, you have to tell me the thoughts went through your mind, when you saw me…please”

Then she said, “I was wondering whether I will live long enough to see her getting married because my mother died in her 50’s and I am already 33 years old.”

I do remember one particular event in my childhood. May be I was less than 1 year old and I am lying on my back and I can see around me all familiar faces of my siblings and my Mom’s too. They are cutting my hair.

I didn’t have great ambitions when I was a kid. I liked to play with the same age kids in the neighborhood and I was not allowed to go to the neighbors’ houses. I used to play with the kids in the neighborhood standing near the fence. We imitated every grownup we knew. The milkman, the maid, the fisherman, shop keeper, Dad & Mom. We took turns to act each one of them.  We tied ropes to the fence and pretended them as our cows. We made rice & curries with sand & grass…We had great fights & reconciliations as husbands & wives.

My Mom was the one who pushed me to study. When she was tied up with all the house work, she appointed an old retired middle school Teacher to give me tuition. Actually it was not tuition, but she wanted somebody to sit with me and make sure that I re-read what I learned that day and make me do  my homework. This Teacher was an old guy probably in his 70’s and my Mom gave him a place to sleep and even gave him food as well as warm water for his bath. Even at the tender age of 5, my Mom used to say, “You are not going to be any good to do any physical labor and please your mother-in-law, so if you study & become somebody, when you bring salary every month at least she will be kind to you.”

From that age itself I was wondering about the monster called “mother-in-law” who may treat me badly if I don’t bring money home.

My father was a very hard working person. I loved him very much, but I hated him at times. He was very hot-tempered. When he was not in a good mood, it was very quiet in the household. Everybody just hid or whispered to stay away from him. I never heard my Mom shouting back to him. It was always a one way fight. I hated him when I have to get my progress card to be signed by him. I will be keeping the progress Card till the last day to get it signed, but fuming inside from the day I got it from my class teacher.  Even if I had good marks, he would drill me with questions like “Are you the highest in the class?”

“Who got the highest in the class?”

“What did she/he get?”

“Why didn’t you get”

“Why did you lose 2 marks?”

“What were you doing?”

“Did anybody ask you to help at home?”

“Then why didn’t you get the highest mark?”…..  It goes and goes on like that.

I never had a decent answer to any of those questions to satisfy him.

I am grounded for the rest of my life…. Then after two or three days everybody forgets the whole episode and we are back to square one.

My father goes to work around 7:30 am and some days he comes home for lunch around 3:00 pm and then goes out again at 5:00 pm after the Tea and comes back around 8:00 pm for dinner.

Even for the short period of 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, if school is off, I am supposed to be sitting in front of my books. It was very difficult for me to do that. So I learned to sit in front of an open book and travel to all kinds of dream worlds. I made up actors and stories in my dream world. I was very thrilled & happy to create a world like that and not letting anybody know about it. Still I hated my father when he came home for lunch.

Come to think of it now, I know that my father gave me the environment for my success & my mother molded my character. My mother instilled fear & respect in us for our father. He was treated royally in our house. There was nobody in the household to say anything against his order, not even my mother. All of us obeyed him without questioning. He was a very loving & caring person, but he acted tough to make sure that all of us behaved.

Only because of my parents’ hard work I became an Engineer.

Without them I am nobody!

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In memory of..

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“Sudha”, that was her name. I met her when was in 7th grade. She was in the same grade, but was in a different division. We didn’t have much in common. She is just an average person, not that great looking either! But she was gem of a character. It showed even at that tender age. Sometimes, my pride or vanity even tried to hide my friendship with her from my other friends.

But Sudha kind of worshiped me. In my heart, I knew she was my best friend at that time. Both of us had certain things in common, like reading was our main hobby. We were budding writers. I was not that great, still she complimented me always, even if there was nothing special about my writings. As a matter of fact, I knew this truth, but still I enjoyed her praises. She was from a Nair family. Her family lived in a small rented house. There was no yard or fence for that house. The Verandah of the house was open to the main road. Transport buses, cars, cycle rickshaws roamed in that main road. They didn’t have much privacy from the public. Her mother was a pretty woman, very thin, looked tired. From the look of her, she may be from a good family. Sudha was the eldest and she had one sister & a brother. Remaining years in the School and one year in College we studied together.  Her father was also thin and he had a graying Mustache which was very common among Police men at that time.

When Sudha was in 9th, her father was suspended from Police Force. The reason was the evidence stuff collected from some thief disappeared from the Police Station. Sudha’s family, moved from that rented home to a place about 10 miles away from my hometown, since they couldn’t afford the rent. We were in the same College for a year. But after that we never got a chance to see each other for the next 6 years, since I went to a different College.

After my graduation, I started to apply for jobs, but that was the worst time for fresh Engineers. Jobs were scarce. My father didn’t want me to move to faraway places for a job, so I didn’t apply to many vacancies. I didn’t have any money with me, other than some pocket money I got from my mother whenever I asked her. Then, my marriage was fixed. That was the normal thing to do. After studies, parents find a suitable match and girl gets married. I thought of Sudha and searched through my old autographs in College & found her address and sent an invitation with a small note asking her to come to my house any day before the marriage, if she could not attend the marriage.

One week before the marriage, I was shopping for my wedding Sari in a shop in the town. My mother and sister-in-law were with me.

Somebody from the back closed my eyes.

“Tell who it is”

I did recognize her voice. Sudha… Sudha…

I was very happy to see her. She has grown up to a young woman. She was wearing a cheap off-white Sari with small blue flowers all over it. She was simple but looked elegant. She was very happy to see me. “The bus stopped in front of this shop and from here I was going to walk to your house. Then I saw you. What a luck!”

I was no more interested in shopping, as Sudha was briefing me about what happened in her life in the last 6 years. Her father’s suspension ruined their family and he was never cleared from the accusations. They were living in a small hut like house which was built in three cents of property Sudha’s mother got from her family. There was not enough money for anything. Sudha was sent to Trivandrum to stay with her Uncle’s family. Her life at Uncle’s house was also not that pleasant. She was treated as a maid there. But she didn’t mind that. But she completed privately “Vidvan” a diploma in Hindi language. Now she was staying with her parents. She had started applying for job, but so far no luck… She didn’t get a job yet.

Finally, two Saris were selected by my mother as wedding Saris. At that time for Rs.100 a Pattu Sari can be bought. The Saris selected for the wedding was Rs.2500 and Rs.5000. I had to select one of them. My heart was aching listening to Sudha’s story. I didn’t want to spend too much money for a Sari. So I selected the less evil, the one of Rs.2500. Even spending that much money for a wedding Sari, I felt it like a waste. Wedding happens only once, so it is not an extravaganza, I consoled myself. I persuaded Sudha to have lunch with me at my home. She obliged.

We sat for the lunch. She had a big smile on her face all the time. She had a very beautiful smile. We were talking non-stop. My mother and others were also listening to our conversation. Everybody was happy to see our excitement.

I asked her to stay till evening. She tried to explain to me what kind of rumor it could create in the neighborhood if a young girl like her reached home late at night, in a small village like hers.

I saw a small purse in Sudha’s hands.

“Let me see that. It is very pretty..” I asked her.

“Do you like it? I don’t have anything to give you for your wedding… You can have it, if you like.” Sudha was very anxious when she said that.

I was just pretending that I liked it.

“Let me see what is inside.” I showed extra enthusiasm.

I opened the bag. There were few coins & a dirty note of Rs.10.

I felt guilty for Rs.2500 I had to spend for the wedding Sari, when I saw the contents of that purse. I didn’t have much money with me. I took whatever I had in my purse & put in her bag. I made sure that Sudha didn’t see me putting the money in her bag. I knew her very well. She was too proud and I knew that she wouldn’t take any donation from anybody. When she left, we hugged. She wished me happy married life. I could see her eyes welled up when she left.

It was a Monday. Next Monday was my marriage. After the marriage, I had to stay in my husband’s house till Thursday. When we came back to my house on Thursday, we were welcomed with traditional lighted “Nilavilakku” and a Pot full of water. Everybody was very happy to see us. There was even a small fireworks staged by my nephews. It was fun.

After the formalities, when everybody was settled down, my mother brought an old Newspaper. There I saw the news.

Family suicide using Paramour. That was the headline.

“Two daughters died. Son and the Father are at the Hospital in serious condition.” Two columns described all about that suicide attempt. It was Sudha & her sister who died. The family was troubled by not having enough money even for food for a long time. That particular day, there was some kind of fight between the father & the daughter. Sudha suggested suicide & took Paramour first, her sister & brother followed. After seeing this, father also took Paramour. Mother was not at home when all this happened. Very next day Sudha got an appointment letter. But she had already left this world without waiting for it. What a tragedy…

I often wondered whether that Rs.2500 I spent for my wedding Sari would have saved that whole family! What a waste!

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ജോസഫ്‌ സാറും സൂചിയും….

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ക്ലാസ്സ്‌ തുടങ്ങുന്നത് പത്തുമണിയ്ക്ക് അന്നെങ്ങിലും അന്ന് പത്ര ആയിട്ടും ജോസഫ്‌ സർ ക്ലാസ്സിൽ വന്നില്ല. എൽസി യും ഇന്ദിരയും തമ്മിൽ എന്തൊക്കയോ ചരുപുര പറയുന്നുണ്ട്. സ്ലേറ്റ് തുടക്കുന്ന മഷിത്തണ്ട് പങ്കു വയ്ക്ക്ന്ന തിരക്കാണ് ഫസുരയും ഖബരുനീസായും.  എനിക്കും ഒരു കഷണം കിട്ടിയാൽ കൊള്ളാമായിരുന്നു…പക്ഷെ ചോദിയ്ക്കാൻ ഒരു മടി.  അല്ലേലും ചോതിച്ചാൽ തരണമെന്നില്ല, ഇന്നലെ വര്മഥ പറഞ്ഞവരുടെ പേര് ടീച്ചർക്ക്‌ കൊടുത്തതിൽ ഖബരുനീസയുടയും ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു. ഇനി ഇപ്പൊ എന്ത് പ്രയശ്ചിതും ചെയ്യും ഒന്ന് കൂട്ട് കൂടാൻ ? ഗോവിന്ദന സർ അല്ലെ ദുസ്ടരും ആയി വരുന്നത്?  സോഷ്യൽ സ്ടുടീസ് പഠിപ്പിക്കുന്ന ഗോവിന്ദന മാഷ് രസികനാണ്. രാമായണത്തിലും ഭാഗവതത്തിലും ഉള്ള നല്ല നല്ല കഥകൾ പറഞ്ഞുതന്നിരുന്നതെല്ലാം ഗോവിണ്ടാന്മാഷ് ആയിരുന്നു. എല്ലാവര്ക്കും വലിയ സന്തോഷം..

“ജിജി പോയി ഒരു ചോക്ക് എടുത്തോണ്ട് വാ.”

ഗോവിന്ദന സർ പറഞ്ഞു. സ്റ്റാഫ്‌ റൂംഇൽ  പോകാൻ കിട്ടിയ അവസരം ആണ്. ഒറ്റ ഓട്ടത്തിന് സ്റ്റാഫ്‌ റൂമിൽ എത്തി. ലീലാവതി ടീച്ചറും, ഭാഗീരതി ടീച്ചറും, ചെല്ലപ്പാൻ സർ ഒക്കെ സ്റ്റാഫ്‌ റൂമിൽ ഉണ്ട്. എല്ലാവരുടയും മുഖത്തൊരു ദുഖഭാവം .

“എന്നാലും എന്റെ സാറെ എങ്ങിനാ ആ കൊച്ചു ഇതിരിക്കൊളും ഉള്ള ഒരു സൂചി സ്വന്തം ദേഹത്തിൽ കുതികെറ്റുന്നതു ?”

ലീലാവതി ടീച്ചറുടെ ശബ്ദം..

“ജോസഫ്‌ സർ കേട്ട പാടെ കരച്ചിലായിരുന്നു . ഇപ്പോൾ അങ്ങ് എത്തിക്കാനും അല്ലെ സാറെ ?” ചെല്ലപ്പൻ സർനോടാണ്.

ജോസഫ്‌ സാറിന് ഒരു കൊച്ചുമകൻ ഉണ്ടന്നു ഞങ്ങള്കെല്ലാം അറിയാം. എന്റെ ദൈവമെ കഷ്ടം തന്നെ.

വന്ന സ്പീഡിൽ തന്നെ ഞാൻ തിരികെ ക്ലാസ്സിൽ എത്തി. അടുത്തിരുന്ന ത്രേസ്സിയുടെ ചെവിയ്ൽ മന്ത്രിച്ചു കിട്ടിയ ന്യൂസ്‌… “”

“ജോസഫ്‌ സാറിന്റെ മോന്റെ ദേഹത്തിൽ സൂചി കയറി. ഹോസ്പിറ്റലിൽ അന്ന്. ജോസഫ്‌ സാർ കരച്ചിൽ ആന്നു. “

പത്തു മിനിറ്റ് കൊണ്ട് ആ വാർത്ത‍ ക്ലാസ്സിലെ മുപ്പത്തഞ്ചു കുട്ടികളുടെ ചെവിയിലും എത്തി.

പിന്നെ എല്ലാവരും അവരവര്ക് അറിയാവുന്ന ജ്ഞാനം കൂട്ടി കുഴച്ചു ശബ്ദം താഴ്ത്തി ചർച്ചയിൽ മുഴുകി. എല്ലാവരും ജോസഫ്‌ സാറിന്റെ ദുഖത്തിൽ ഭാഗഭാക്കായി.ആ നിമിഷം  ഞങ്ങളുടെ എല്ലാവരുടയും ഉറ്റവൻ  ആയി ഒരിക്കലും ഞങ്ങളാരും കണ്ടിട്ടില്ലാത്ത ആ കൊച്ചു പയ്യൻ . ജോസഫ്‌ സാറിന്റെ  ദുഖം ഞങ്ങളുടെ ദുഖം ആയി.

മരണം എന്തെന്ന്‌ കണ്ടിട്ടില്ലാത്ത ഞങ്ങളൊക്കെ അന്ന് മരണത്തെ അടുത്ത് കണ്ടത് പോലെ തോന്നി.

വിജയ ഡോക്ടറുടെ മകളാണ്. അതുകൊണ്ടുതന്നെ മെഡിക്കൽ അറിവ് അവൾക്കു കൂടുതലാണു എന്ന് ഞങ്ങളെല്ലാം വകവെച്ചു കൊടുത്തിരുന്നു.

“രക്തത്തിൽ സൂചി കയറിക്കഴിഞ്ഞാൽ പിന്നെ ഒരു രക്ഷയും ഇല്ല. അത് നേരെ ഹൃദയത്തിലോട്ടു വച്ചു  പിടിക്കും. എന്നാ സ്പീഡ് ആണെന്നോ! അതിനു മുൻപ് സൂചി പിടിച്ചു വച്ചാൽ രക്ഷ ഉണ്ട്.” വിജയ അവളുടെ വിജ്ഞാനം വിളമ്പി. ചിലര് അത് കേട്ട് കരഞ്ഞു. ചിലര് ദുഖം മനസ്സിൽ ഒളിപ്പിച്ചു.

ഞങ്ങൾ ഓരോരുത്തരും അവരവരുടെ ദൈവങ്ങളോട് പ്രാർത്ഥിച്ചു .. “ദൈവമെ, ആ സൂചി ഹൃദയത്തിൽ എത്തുന്നതിനു മുൻപ് ഡോക്ടര അത് കണ്ടുപിടിച്ചു എടുത്തു കളയണേ” എന്ന്.

ഒരാഴ്ച എടുത്തു ജോസഫ്‌ സർ തിരികെ സ്കൂളിൽ എത്താൻ. ആ ദിവസങ്ങളിലെല്ലാം ആ മുപ്പത്തഞ്ചു കുട്ടികളും ഹൃദയം ഉരുകി പ്രര്തിച്ചു ആ സൂചിക്ക് വേണ്ടി…

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My first blog starting with a memory of my sister’s wedding…

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I started writing on insistence of my niece and also for my younger son who makes  me repeat the childhood stories again and again and insisted me to write at least a page a day….

I am five years old. I slept with my elder sister..  One of my feet is kept on her body while my tiny hand held her… that’s how I fell asleep. She told me stories at night, till I fell asleep.

My sister was very fond of me. She would carry me always and she was ready to run any errand if allowed to take me with her. She gave me bath. She dressed me up. She fed me. She did everything for me. I felt closer to her than to my Mom.

I heard that my sister is getting married soon. What is marriage? How do I know?  I had never gone for a marriage.  So I didn’t know.. I heard one boy ties something to the girl…

I have seen the boy of my sister, when he came to see my sister. He was very fair and had very dark hair. Everybody liked him, especially my Mom. But me… I didn’t like him. He didn’t look that great to me to have my sister. But everybody in my household was happy and waiting as if it is going to be festival. New Sarees & Ornaments were bought for my sister. There was no ready-made clothes/dresses for kids or grown ups in the shops. Cloth was bought from the shop & taken to the Tailor shop. Tailor took measurements and gave us a date to pick up the dress he made…. But it never would be completed/finished on the day he said. All those days we were counting for that day to come, but now we had to wait again for one or two days more…. What a disappointment!

For any new dress stitched for me, if it was completed in one of the week days, I had to wait and wait for the Sunday to come to wear it for the first time. That was my Mom’s rule. Anybody having a new cloth, should wear it to the church service for the first time to show God the gratitude for giving that new one.

Even though I didn’t like a stranger coming to take my sister away from me, but I liked the commotion of the festivity in the house and the new dresses…

On our way to marriage, we had to stop at a house very near to the church, for the bride to change into her wedding Saree. Then I also insisted to change to another new dress. But my changing was not in the agenda, so I had to wear the same dress which I didn’t like a bit at the time.

After the marriage and the party, by the time, we reached back home, it was very late at night. Still I remember crying to sleep with my sister for a long time on that night and slept crying…I hated my brother-in-law and to me he was a monster who stole away my loving sister.

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