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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