Saturday, February 25, 2006

Pangunip pongal – The games

I hear a loud voice outside, laughing and saying something. I run out to see what it is. It is Easvaran chiththappa. He is all soaked in oil and water. Thank God it is not his new clothes. He is laughing very proudly. Looks like he has won some game. Maattukkaara pattaiya is shouting and he too looks like is coming from the main street where all the games are being held. "Eh, eh, look what your son has done? He climbed up that oily stick, looks he is all soaked in oil, look at his clothes. Paataiyaa is complaining to paatti. “So what, my son has won something”. She is all proud. “I have not spoiled new clothes, look, I am still in old clothes”. Chiththappa is trying to save himself from some of his father’s anger. “It is not the clothes, you stupid, what happens if you fall and break your bones? Who is going to plough the field then?” “Look at this man, he is all worried about his field all the time. My son is not for your field works. What is wrong if he goes and enjoys some? He has won the game”. She picks up fighting. “I am not saying it for the sake of our field. I am worried about him. What if he fell from the stick and broke few bones?” “What did you think of my son? I have fed him well. He knows how to climb. Hasn’t he proved. He has won”. "It was oily stick for godsake. Oil spilling from the top all the time, for every little shake. Anyone can fall because it is slippery. It is not about your food or about his talents. Oil doesn’t pay attention to you, do you know that?” Pattaiyaa goes annoyed. Patti and chithappa have long gone inside their house. Ah, there comes Ganesa chiththappa, soaked in oil again. “What did you do? Only one can get that money in the cloth tied to the oily stick, Easvaran has got it, so, how come you are oily and showing all teeth? What, you have “money in cloth” too. Where did you get this?” Pattaiya asks his eldest, annoyed of the fact that his most responsible son has gone crazy too. “Did you not go to the other area where they make you blind, and you have to hit the oil and water filled pot tied at the centre and if you are successful, you get the money in cloth kept in the pot? I have won that” Ganesa chithappa replies, showing all his teeth. "What is wrong with you people. What happens if you had hit someone else?” He goes worried and shouting again, chiththappa has long gone inside his house. I can hear paatti’s voice going screaming and laughing out of pride and happiness. I am not allowed to go to watch these games. They say that I might get hurt. But no one could stop Senthil. Look, Easvaran chithathappa is out again. In his new clothes this time. “Where is Senthil?” Pattaiya is coming out as well, following chiththappa. “Where are you going again? Why do you want Senthil? Do not spoil him as well.” “Where is Senthil”? Chiththappa asks me. “I don’t know”. “You donot know anything about your brother? “What kind of elder sister are you? Don’t you have to be responsible and keep an eye on him, particularly these days when there is so much crowd in town, so many things are happening, what happens if he gets hurt”. This time, it is me for Pattaiya. “Why are you sitting at home on a thiruvila day? Come with me”, "What, are you determined to spoil somebody or the other, that too trying to spoil a girl child? Go away". Pattaiya shouts at him.. I run to hold chithappa’s hands. He takes me with him to the streets…

People, people people everywhere. Noise noise noise everwhere. Songs coming from loudspeakers are not decipherable. Few games are being conducted. Those men who are conducting games are announcing, moderating, instructing, entertaining using loudspeakers. They are not decipherable either. I hold chithathappa’s hands tightly, thinking that, that is what chiththappa told me, as I cannot really understand what he is saying, even though he is screaming in high pitch and telling me something. I just look at him and nod my head, to let him know that I heard him. He says it again.. He gave up.

I cannot see the game or follow what is going on there, really. It is only chiththappa’s hand, few people’s backs and few other people’s hips I can see. They all smell new clothe’ or, oily smell or even crushed flowers smell, chrysanthemum and jasmine mixed smell… can’t tell clearly. Above my head, through people's head, I get s glimpse of colour papers and mango leaves all tied in ropes, hung above, across the street. I don’t know what senthil is doing in this crowd. What possibly can he enjoy in these streets, what can he see here, other than people’s backs and hips. He is shorter than me, he can only see legs. Still I don’t want to go home. There is this another kid playing peepee inside my ears. What, are you nuts? I have gone deaf. I want to shout at him. He laughs. He gives me a peepee. I smile and play at him. I look around. He is not with his parents, or may be they are here, he is just not holding their hands. He shows me his watch-mittai. A flexible candy strip made in the shape of a wrist watch and tied around his wrist. “Do you want”. “Yes”. “Come with me”. “I don’t have money”. “Ask your parents”. “Chiththappa, I want watch-mittai”. “What”? He can’t hear me. I show him my wrist and play some sign language. He seems to understand. He gives me money. “Dey Muruga, get her some watch mittai and bring her back here, ok?” He sends me with my new friend. We run to get watch mittai. Mittaikkarar (the candy man, who sells candys) is selling few types of mittais. This flexible strip is one, using which you can get a wrist watch, or a train too. He always gives an extra kannaththuppottu mittai(a little bindi on cheek) to girls. He also sells panju mittai. I buy a panju mittai and a watch mittai.

We came back home very tired. Senthil came back as well. He looked very tired too. I wanted to ask him where did he go and what did he see. But I was too tired to ask, and the loudspeakers haven’t stopped yet, mother shouting, aachchi shouting, chithti shouting, thaththa shouting,… I decided to eat first. Senthil eats quickly and runs away again.

It is going to be mulaippari in the evening today and karakaattam after that.
PS: different period of time (my age) than the other one (shops post). I am younger and small in this one.

The last sausage roll - by Michelle

It's early morning in late summer in South African and I'm on my way to my graduation. It is going to be a very hot day. Already the air is shimmery and full of the noise of Christmas beetles (Cicadas). My family are going to the ceremony to watch me. My parents and my grandparents.

We reach the college and there are friends already waiting for me on the steps. I have come from out of town so I am late, plus we had to stop to pick up my grandparents and that made us later still. I have travelled to town in the back of an already hot car between my grandparents while they argued with each other. This isn't unusual. This is what they do. Some people play sport or take up a hobby. My grandparents argue.

On the steps of the college I have to leave to get my black gown to wear. My mother kisses me. She looks so proud. She has tears in her eyes. My father is taking photos. He has tears in his eyes. He is so proud. My friends and I have to dash to get our gowns. Mine is too long. Or to be more honest - I am too short. The gown is amazingly heavy and smells faintly of old dust, ancient wool and moth repellent. It's not a good scent for a hot summer day. I run down the passage to get to my chair in time thinking that this must be how a bat feels with those big black wings.


The ceremony was actually incredibly boring. By a twist of alphabet and class I turn out to be the very first person to be called up. I get up.. go onto the stage.. shake hands.. and then I sit for the entire five hundred hours of the graduation ceremony.

Afterwards there is tea and coffee and a buffet table of snacks for students and family in the one hall. I can't find a plate so I juggle a piece of chocolate cake in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. My one lecturer brings a businessman over to introduce me. She thinks he might offer me a job. He says hello and congratulations and holds out his hand to shake mine. My brain goes into a panic. I have cake and tea in each hand. Cake and tea.. tea and cake. I quickly stuff the cake onto the saucer. I have cake on my hand, but before I can do anything he grabs my hand and shakes it. Now I am trying to stand calmly and talk to an important man in a suit that now has squashed chocolate cake all over his right hand.

I cannot remember anything I said to him. I gabbled a bit and then ran away and hid behind a pillar. When I finally come out I can hear loud voices.

Oh
..
my
..
god.

It's them.

My grandparents are arguing.

I don't know whether to laugh or leap out a window. They are arguing over a sausage roll. A sausage roll! There was one sausage roll left on the centre plate and they both reached for it at the same time. Now they stand on either side of the buffet table and my gran is giving grandfather a good ticking off for trying to take "her" sausage roll. She gives his hand a slap, takes the sausage roll.. and WRAPS IT IN HER PAPER SERVIETTE AND STICKS IT IN HER HANDBAG.

Ok. It is official. I am about to die of embarrassment. My grandmother has just stolen a sausage roll at my graduation. Part of me wants to die and another part of me wants to giggle hysterically.

Oh God, let me die now. Please. Shoot me. Squash me with an earthquake.

The ground will heave and tear asunder and the earth shall be no more. I have smeared chocolate cake over a prominent businessman and now my grandmother has nicked the last sausage roll off the buffet to take home for her pet dog.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pangunip pongal – The shops

Murugeswari akka is waiting for me. I am negotiating my pocket money from my mother. “how much do you want”, “amma give me more” "don’t buy anything else. Buy just bangles and comeback. Murugeswari, just get her bangles and come back ok?” “OK chithi”, my mother is chithi for her. We are going to the bangle shop. There are several shops in our town during this time. During Therth thirivila (chariot festival), whole town becomes one big shopping mall. People from all the villages around our area come to our town. During pangunip pongal also people from other towns and villages come here, but it is mostly people who have relatives in kombai. But, shops are the same regular ones. Some shops might crop up just during the pongal days, but it is not like therth thiruvila. Whatever new shop comes, we always go to our valavikkadai (bangle shop). But there are many sweet stalls we get. They sell kalar payasam (coloured kheer), and sorbet. I don’t like the taste of sorbet. Many like it. Kalar payasam is my favourite, though the taste is not that good, it just gives the festive mood. But all those shops will come just for the pongal days, not yet. We are going to valavikkadai today. All the locals finish our shopping before the pongal days to save ourselves from the village crowd who will be shopping during the pongal days. Also, we can wear valavi when I put on my new clothes in the morning itself. So we are going to the valavikkadai today.

We reach our valavikkadai after a few stops by some of our relatives, “where are you going latha”, “aren’t you pachchayee’s daughter, Murugeswari”, “There is no school today, where are you going? Does your mother know you are going? Do you have money to buy valavi?” all sorts of questions..

Naduththeru (centre street) is very crowded today. Every one in town seems to be in the naduththeru. Some are in tailors’ shops. Some are still buying clothes. There are few pattarai (gold smiths), where people are ordering new gold ornaments. Some are in valavikkadais (bangle shop, where all the girls’ accessories are sold). Some are negotiating the prices; well everyone is negotiating the price of everything there. That girl standing with her mother in the goldsmith’s shop looks very happy. She is getting something new it looks. Happiness on her face is heaven. I will wear my jimikky (a type of ear ring) too. This time of the year you can really count, er, weigh the amount of gold reserve available in every household. Particularly if there is a girl in marriage-able age in that house, she will be wearing “all” gold ornaments. I like the head/hair decoration using flowers during pongal days, which is very special. It is bridal style decoration. Girls love it. All girls get to rehearse in this hair-do before their marriage, during these pongal days. Also it makes sense as they all will be getting married in the following months; surprised? It is not rocket science. They get noticed during these pongal days don’t they? Particularly when all the eligible bachelors in town are doing no any work, other than following these girls, in the name of “volunteering” in the temple. It is not their (girls) maargali prayer, but their pangunippongal hair-do gets them their men, if you ask me.

Nadutheru is generally a busy street, but is packed with people today. Songs from loudspeakers come so loud and mixed, I can’t really figure out what song is being played in which temple. People are either negotiating with the shop-keepers, or talking to their acquaintances/friends/relatives. Some are standing in the middle of the roads. Children are playing as well, but their mothers are shouting at them to come back, in order to keep them safe and not lost. Buses do not come through this street, as this is the shopping street. But still some motor bikes and cycles come through this street. Occasionally some bullock carts come too. Generally they do not need to come through this street, as the fields are outside the town and farm owners houses are not in this street. Also, bullock carts leave in the morning and come back in the evening only.

We have reached our valavikkadai. We live in the north street, and it is just the cross lane to Nadutheru (centre street), where the valavikkadai is there. There are few other valavikkadai as well, but we always go to our regular valavikkadai. The shop owner knows my family and he knows our liking disliking very well. I like going there. I go there sometimes on the way to school as well, just to talk to him.

Valavikkadaikkar (the shop keeper) recognises us. “Vaanga (please come)”, and smiles. There are already three groups of girls examining few designs and checking if they suit them. "Valavikkadaikaarare, is there any new design for this season?” Murugeswari akka asks. He shows us the new designs. Some of them aren’t that great. I don’t fancy too gittery type. I ask for less glittery bangles. He shows me few other designs, but tells me that they are less pricy. “I know you school going girls are very decent and do not like all these too glittery ones. It is for those village girls who will be coming for the festival. But, if you would listen to me, I will say, it suits you. You are maaniram (not so dark skinned) and this golden colour enhances your colour. It doesn’t look too glittery on your hands. It might look too contrastingly glittery on a dark skinned girl's hand, but it suits you very well. Also, do you not want something different for this festival?” "She doesn’t wear bangles valavikkadaikkarare. She says that bangles interfere when she writes, also they make too much noise in the class she says”. "That is when you go to school. You can always take them off, but wear just two in each hand, you shouldn’t wear one, as oththappadai is not good you see" (wearing one bangle will bring bad luck). "Valvikkadaikkarare, even two bangles are enough to make noise and even one is enough to interfere while writing...” “I can never understand you girl.” He laughs. "There are some new designs in ear rings, would you like to see?” He knows my likings for ear rings. "No. no. her mother has strictly told me to get her bangles and nothing else". Murugeswari akka says. “I will talk to mother, show me those ear rings valavikkadaikkarare”. He goes inside. The other groups have finished their selection by now. A few new groups have come and are waiting for valavikkadaikkarar. “he has gone inside to bring some ear rings”. "Are there new designs in ear rings too?” one of the girls in one of the new groups asks. “Oh yes”, I reply. She is all excited and looking forward to buy a set pf new ear ring. Valavikkadaikkarar continues his sales with this new groups of girls.

“Why did you buy the ear ring? Your skin is allergic to metals other than gold, don’t you know”? Mother has started her questions. Murugeswari akka is answering them; I go straight to my little mirror, to see my ear rings on me.
PS: needs rewriting.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The foundation

Ambiga teacher does not want Anandi and I to be in the same team as the results will be skewed. So she has dropped the idea of having girls team vs. boys team for the competition. Yesterday she announced that today is going to be the competition day. We are all excited. first of all, there won't be any class today. secondly, it is fun. loads of fun. :-)

"when teacher?" girls ask our teacher. "Go inside. let us finish our class today and then do the competition", she has been telling this to all girls, arriving one by one. It is prayer time. We all go to the prayer area. "you know, there is going to be class first, and then only the competition.." "shhh, don't talk"......... nirarunkadeludththu...

Teacher, teacher, let us do the competition first and then do the class. Ambiga teacher knows that we won't sit quiet after a competition... we all shout, teacher teacher.. she has found out that we are not going to maintain silence, nor going to listen to her lecture, before the competition either. OK, OK, all stand up. Anandi, you go that side, Premalatha, you stay this side. you are the team leaders, and you take the responsibilities. It doesn't mean that you tell all the answers, you have to give your team members a fair chance.. "Teacher, teacher, tell her that she is allowed only two answers.." Anandi, the politician. I start defending myself.. "if noone from my team say the answer, and if I know, I should be allowed", "eh loosu (you stupid), if you get to give only two answers, doesn't that restrict her (Anandi) too?" teacher asks me. Clever Anandi replies, "No teacher, she didn't demand it, so I will answer as many questions I please".. indeed a loosu (stupid) I am. Ambiga teacher groups us into two teams, girls and boys combined. The competition begins.

(will be continued)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Who are you? by Michelle

If I take you away from your birthland and set you down in a strange country. If I take away your home and your family connections, your childhood friends and your favourite relatives.

Who are you?

If I take away your religion, your culture. The way you speak and the language you are speaking. Your slang and your traditions, your superstitions..

Who are you?

If I take your style of dressing, Your favourite TV show. The books on your shelf and the food in your refrigerator.

Who are you?

If I take away the colour of your skin and hair, the shape of your face. Your ancestry, your ethnicity..

Who are you?

If I take away your gender and its bias. Your preconceived notions of how you must act and react, purely related to two basic body formats based on the need for reproduction.

Who are you?

What makes you YOU?

Pangunip pongal - The announcement

They have announced it today. They always do it a week before the festival. The festival itself is celebrated during the last week of the Panguni month, which is the last month of the Tamil calendar. That is the tradition. The temple kottukkaarar (drummer), who is the official announcer, has been to all streets and announcing it. He is the owner of his kottu (drum). Generally mother calls me a “kottu”, because I speak loud and non-stop. He has been to all the streets and is doing it in our streets….. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is to inform you all that pangunip pongal is going to be celebrated next week. Please prepare you all for the festive season”. dum dum dum dum... He is surrounded by kids who are excited to see his kottu, as well as the festive mood itself. They all jump and run behind him as walks through every lane and every street to let everyone know. Everyone already know the date of the festival, also they know the arrangements are being done. Actually in some families they have been fasting every day since the first of the panguni month. When someone told me about this one month fasting, first i was shocked, but, no, they do eat. they eat every evening to call of the fasting for that day. but they continue to fast from next day. It is the tradition to announce like this. I hear his kottu even after he has left. It was loud, and rhythmic. Children are jumping and running and following him. It brings the festive mood indeed.

It is not considered good to leave town after this announcement. If any death happens in any of the family in our town, the funeral is done immediately, and the death is declared “bad death”. That brings bad things to that family they say. So, if anyone is not well for a long time, they tell them to wait for one more week (can they do it like that?).

I like pangunip pongal. I am so happy. It is a three day festival. I like the gorgeous maavilakku day. I will tell you all about it later. First day is mulappari day. It is nice too. But I like the gorgeous maavilakku day, which is the second day of the festival. We are going to the tailor’s shop to collect our new clothes today. It is very busy in tailor’s shop. We have to get our stitched well in advance; otherwise, he will not give it in time for the festival. I can’t imagine not wearing new clothes for pangunip pongal.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Identity

I like our night time terrace. After dinner, I like to spend time there. It is the place I sit quietly and think. All confusing uncorrelated, incoherent thinkings. They start somewhere take me around somewhereelse and finish somewhereelse, when they finish, if they do finish, I have often had tough time in remembering the starting point for all these cyclic thoughts I have had. Today I am with Jaya. She is getting married. “He does not even have his moustache; that is what I am disappointed about”, she complains. It brings me back from, well, I have forgotten. “What Jaya?” “He looks too young and he does not have even his moustache grown”. “Did you not check his age, I am sure he must be older than you”. “Well, he is older alright, he hasn’t got his moustache”. I smile. “Do you like him?” “He doesn’t even has his moustache”, I smile. She smiles too. “Ok, I move on. I do not like to leave our town and can’t believe some other town is going to be “my town”, I do not want to leave Kombai. I really do not know how can I take it in that Cumbum is my town here afterwards.” “You will be alright”. “Not only that he doesn’t even has his moustache”.. I hear that very feeble voice coming from elsewhere, as I slip into my ……..

I wouldn’t want to leave Kombai either. How can anyone come to terms with accepting another town as his town? But, I know I will study. I will have to marry someone with same level of education, if not better. Is there anyone I know in Kombai studying to catch up with me when I want to marry? Dayalan’s mother on the other day was hinting mother that I should address him machchaan (cousin, son of father’s sister or son of mother’s brother). I refused. He is in my class. She was complaining that he is elder than me. Aren’t you ashamed of saying that your son is elder and is in my class because he failed few years! And, she wants to hint my mother that she will be very pleased to have me as her daughter in law. I can’t come to terms with having her as my mother in law. Don’t even think about talking about Dayalan as my husband. As Nilu would say, puke. ~Yuk~. So, what have I got? Hang on. Even if Dayalan is a good guy and studies really well, even if his mother is a good woman, if I marry him, I have to go and live in his house which is in that street. That is not my street! Oh shit, I have to find a guy who is from my street. “Jaya, I don’t know whether I will want to leave our street and call some other street as my street.” Very true. I don’t like either. But there are not suitable men in our street. “What happened to your alliance talks with Sudaliamuththu mama”? “I can’t live in Seeniththai’s house. She is a ratchasi (demon)”. Jaya replies. True. Well, even if she is a good woman, if you marry her son, Sudalaimuththu mama, you have to go and live in their house. You can still be in our street, but your house changes. How can you call that as your house? When you walk past your house, well, your present house, which becomes “not your house, but your mother house”, how will you feel?” Jays looks confused and worried. Not for long. “That is why it is good to go far away and accepting will come easily”. Looks very true. She is a genius. I am still confused.

What is mine? Where do I belong? My house is my house. My street is my street. Within my street, I am an amukkana (a nick name for my grand father’s family clan) girl. When I go to Anandhi’s street, I am from my street and for some old people I am still an amukkana girl. When I go to temple, I am from North Street. There are girls from East Street as well. In some other situation, I am a Nadar girl. In college I am a non-brahmin. In some situation, I am a Maduraite. :-) Do you know there is a TMK, it means we southies, from Thirunelveli, Madurai and Kanyakumari and around areas. we southies are very good people. We value values. We respect elders. We always talk in good language. Madurai is Tamil's dear place, as there was Sangam in Madurai you know? :-) In Bangalore I am a Tamilian. In Dehradun I am a Madarasi. In Hemel I am a paki if you want to offend me, or I am a desi, if you want to party with me. There is this culture that identifies me. There is this skin identifies me. My jaw line identifies me too. How can you forget my hair. Oh love my hair. Long, silky, shiny black hair. I used to have upto my hip, actually slightly longer than that. I don’t have a photo of that, otherwise I would show you. I know you don’t believe me, my bob definitely doesn’t help does it?:-) I look gorgeous in bob Don told me. :-) . oh sorry, where was I, ah, it was my hair for some people. People have constantly told me that I am a woman. I am a girl. After all a girl. That fucks me up really. I mean really. mhuh.

Fuck the westerners. They think I am a smelly piece of shit who smells curry all the time. Fuck the northerners who think that I eat tamarind and rice all the time. They ask me how I am not bored eating sambhar. Well, I don’t eat sambhar everyday, but my question is, how are they not bored with their roti or chapathi whatever that is? Fuck the Brahmins, and their stupid dialect. They think they speak Tamil. Will anyone tell them that it is not tamil what they speak. They tell me that I don’t get “zha/la”, will anyone tell them that what they speak is bookish, because they “learnt” it rather than…. well, they cannot “understand”, they only know to mug up,… fuck the east street, what for, I don’t know, but let us say, fuck them for not being a north-street-person. Fuck the other families in my street. Fuck.. who, let us say chithi… and fuck………………………………..it is just me I am left with, so, I should fuck myself? Huh? The world is spinning fast. Everything around me is spinning fast. I see Jaya’s face, flashing now and then as it spins around me. I feel giddy. I shake my head.

“Latha, latha”, who is this? Oh it is Jaya. The sky is still dark. All twinkling. “Latha, what happened?” I don’t know. I feel giddy and my head is breaking. “Latha you fainted. What happened?” don’t know Jaya. What were we talking?”. The breeze is comforting. Some dogs are barking and I hear a man's voice trying to calm the dog down. “We were talking about my marriage Latha”. “Have you said yes?” “Oh yes. He is alright. It is just, he hasn’t even got his moustache yet. Cumbum should be alright”. She slips into her imaginary future. I see smile on her face. She looks happy. “what are you going to do?” she ask me. “Me?”, I don’t know. "I suppose you will study and your parents will have to find someone equivalent for you. You might as well, well, you WILL leave kombai, because there is no one in kombai studying equivalent to you". “I don’t want to get married”. Latha, you will definitely leave Kombai. You will leave atleast to study. Like your mama (mother’s younger brother). What happens then? He comes to kombai only as a visitor. It is not his home anymore. He talks about madurai all the time. Did you not see?” she is right. Mama has become a visitor. Will that happen to me too? What is my home then? What happens to my identity then? Who will I be? What should I cling on to? Amukkana? North street? Kombai? Nadar? Non-brahmin? Tamil? Madarassi? Paki/Desi? Rice? Hair? Tamarind? Brown? My eyes? My breasts? There you go, spinning again. Shit, this shit world spins at the drop of a hat.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thaavani (Half Saree)

I insisted on wearing thaavani, you know, I insisted. It was not my parents, but I asked for it. It is my upbringing that is, I come from such a family of very good people, that the moment I felt the lumps (paatti told me that this is not a disease but normal lumps girls get at this age), I decided that I will wear thaavani. I am not the kind of girl who wears all those tops with frills to cover lumps, I am not from that kind of family. I insisted that I wanted to cover my lumps, properly, not using frilled tops. I have not attained major yet, you know, I don't know what it is, but people say that that is one of the criteria for changing to thaavani. Everyone in my class were surprised to see me in thaavani. They all commented that I am too small, not even attained major yet. That makes me feel very proud of myself. See, what a good girl I am. I even wear the thaavani by bringing all the layers inbetween the lumps to make the area flat so that the lumps do not show. Yes, I make it flat. It will be a shame if they protrude and show. That will be a shame. These lumps are shame for me. That is why I make them flat by bringing all the layers of thaavani inbetween them to fill the gap there. You should also cover from both the sides. If the thaavani slipped a little, it is a shame. Real shame

I insisted on wearing thaavani you know. I am from a good family and I am a good girl. I am not one of those who wears those frilled tops. I am very cultured. I am very proud of myself. Checked if the flat-thaavani stays flat and covered both the sides well, real well. Good. I smile.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Princess Syndrome

Kavitha is the popular girl in our class. Her friend circle is the popular circle as well. They are from same school from first standard. One of their mother is our PET teacher. Sudha she is. She also is a dancer. We, the tamil medium to English medium gang, we have our own circle too. It is like the middle class life. Myself, Chandravadhana, S. Premalatha (another Premalatha), Latha (this is another Latha), Rajavadhana, Radhi,… Some of us live in the hostel. In hostel, it is Rajavadhana who is the princess. Radhi is her own princess. I am close to Radhi. I can talk in the same wavelength with her. The way she has changed her name to Radhi is cool. Her full name is ------… Radhi and Rajavadhana are cousins and there is a family issue between them that makes them stay in two separate groups and still form one group… whatever. I am there, or try to be there in all groups. I really like to be included in whatever the kavitha’s group talk. Generally they don’t include me. Because they are day-scholars and so, I do not fit with them. More over, I cannot speak in English, definitely do not know anything about most of their talks. Whenever I tried to go to them, this is what the first question they ask. “How are boys like? Did you really study with boys in co-ed all these years? Do you have a boy-friend?” I never understood what the big deal was. All these years when I was in my school with all those boys, nothing felt anything different. They are the same lot as my girl-friends lot. All types. All the same. Do, I have a boy-friend? Yes, friends in boys are boyfriends, aren’t they? Yes I do. Many. Yesterday was Kavitha’s birthday. She was in new clothes. I went to greet her. She said it is not a big deal, and shrugged off. I didn’t know how to continue the conversation. She was talking about books. Her brother is in college and whenever he comes home, he brings gifts for her. They are mostly books. Her brother is very popular among her friends as well. He is like a celebrity for them. I don’t know what books he brings, but, “books” is the term they use. It is supposed to mean they are all intellectuals and they are all of different league. I have read books. But, I refer them by their titles. That itself tells that I am not in their league, doesn’t it. Anyway, I tried to find out what books, but she never told, or I didn’t get whatever she told. They are English books anyway. I am not going to know. Reading “books” wearing “modern” clothes, talking in English.. I don’t have anyof those. But, to my surprise, I continue to get their attention. I don’t know how. Sometime they are interested in talking to me and finding about me as well. They want to find out why I don’t like to wear pottu (bindhi), flowers, turmeric on face… etc.. Kind of cool, that they think I am different and/or a cool girl. It takes me out of the general lot to their level. I intend to keep this on. Also, I don’t wear gold chain, because no one gave me one, but they think I am against it. Cool. I intend to keep it that way. Will this promote me to one of those “princesses”? No, you have to have a brother who brings books and you have to have a father who earns a lot and you have to wear those.. well, it doesn’t look like I can reach there, but I am one of the princesses in my own way. Radhi is one. Aruna is much more matured. She amazes me with her “reality” talks. She thinks that I am a “reality” talker too. Cool. Aruna and Radhi are best friends and they include me in their circle. But, my own best place is Chandravadhana or Radhi. Radhi lives with me in hostel and Chandra sits with me in my desk. I have found that I share a lot of things in common with them. We are the “middle class” girls. Radhi is the princess of our middle class. Chandra takes care of me whenever I am confused. I am Vinayaki's best, and her "own place". She has a lot going on in her life. I take care of her when she is in need of a friend. The circle and the cycle continues..

On the other day when I went to receive prizes for scoring first in the last term exams, Chandra put her gold chain around my neck, when no one, including myself, expected, in the school prayer when I was rushing to the front…I was overwhelmed with her gesture and cried a little as well. As I had to stay in the front to receive all those five prizes (four for each subject first and one for being the overall first), that gold chain shined around my neck all the time, and attracted everyone’s eyes. Vinayaki had given me her good clothes for that day, so I was looking all different that day. Kavitha later said that I disappointed her. I dissappointed Aruna too on that day, by accepting, rather pleased about, the good clothes from Vinayaki. I dissappointed Radhi when I sang and danced in one of our hostel entertainment evenings. Chandravadhana said, ignore them. I couldn't. I dissappointed my chithi for being a not-a-good girl in school. I dissappointed her by not living upto her expectations. I dissappointed her by not keepping our family well respected, by not being a likeable girl by evereone. Hope she doesn't find out that many girls in my school do not like me.

PS: if it is incoherent and doesn't close, or doesn't convey anything, it is because it is deliberate and/or just what I got when I started writing it.