Tuesday, May 09, 2006


It is hot. Spinning columns of dry mud all around us. On hearing something grrrrrr, Murugan shouts, “Dey, Palarampatty bus is coming. Bus is coming”. We all pause. Wiping the dry mud around our eyes and mouth, and me being a girl, I hurriedly adjusted the tucked skirt to fall free. I couldn’t see anything on the left. Nothing on the right either. We are at a T-junction where a ohdai (gully) meets the Pannaipuram to Pallavarayanpatty tar-road. The ohdai is deep and covered with fence type dense shrubs and some trees on both sides, covering the ohdai with complete shade. Tamirnd trees and Neem trees. Shades under these trees are heaven. I am sitting under a neem tree watching Senthil ride a cycle. He is showing me “how it is done”. Mother asked us not too go too far. Murugan had to really explain a lot to get her to come to a compromise to send us off to manthathohtta (Mantha farm) Maarimuthu’s vaasal, which is slightly spacious than ours. We agreed because it is off her sight, as it is just behind the last house in that lane. We ran off to the ohdai. After some cycling, we have long left the Minar’s farm, which was the farthest place I have been to in that gully-path so far. After Minar's farm, the ohdai becomes quite deep. It has a nice blind summit before it meets the road. There where Senthil has been showing me how to stop the cycle exactly at the summit, just after reaching the top of the steep summit with such acceleration. The summit is really too short, and yes, it does need a great calculation to stop without falling down the down slope on the other side. Senthil is all proud to show me his talents, more so, that I can’t do it. He is teaching me to ride a cycle. He and his friends.

“Muruha, there is no bus”. “It is coming Mathini (I am mathini for him), listen carefully. Ley, stop talking, stop talking, listen carefully mathini, it is coming”. “From which side, left or right”? “Akka, akka, look one more time, ha ha ha ha..”, Senthil stopped exactly at the top of the summit, this time as well. His friends are laughing with him applauding his achievement, this time as well. The bus comes from the left. Conductor was standing on the footboard, wondering at us. The bus stops. It is not a regular stop. I stand up. “Ley, what are you doing? Who is she? Why are you with these boys? Do your parents know? Are you alright”? I am tempted to say that Senthil did not give me cycle at all, he has been keeping the cycle all the time, but he claims that he has been training me. He is laughing at me whenever I fall down. Murugan, promptly replied. “She is my mathini. He is her brother. We are teaching her to ride cycle”. Senthil and his friends take a break to listen to our conversation. “Whose children are you all? Those two (myself and Senthil) look like they are school-going-ones, why are they here? Do their parents know that they are here? Are you alright, girl”? Again I am tempted to complain that I fell down few times and Senthil laughed at me. Again Murugan replied. “These two are military man’s children”. Nope. Conductor does not get it. “Whose son are you”? Conductor goes on adding questions, without giving Murugan a fair chance to reply. Some voice from inside the bus comes to help, “Conductor sir, what is happening? Need help? Whose children are they? What are you doing here, in the middle of nowhere”? “Aren’t you Muthamma’s grandson? I will speak to her. And these two, awright, amukkana Ponniah’s grandchildren”. “Isn’t Ponnaiah Muthamma’s nephew? So, you are all related?”. “Yes sir. She is my mathini”. “How? Isn’t she your sister’s daughter?”. “Yes sir, Chuppakka is Latha-mathini’s mother. Latha mathini is elder to me”.. “Right. So, what are you doing”?. “We are teaching her to ride cycle”. “Are you ok, girl? What is your name? “Latha. In schooool, Premalatha”. “Are you ok”? “Yeah. But fell down few times”. “Why do you want to ride cycle? You are studying and this cycle business is only for jobless boys. Why are you coming to these kinds of places? Go home. Alright. I will talk to your grandfather”. Some voice from inside the bus, . “Muthamma is the only one alive among her sisters and brothers”. “How did you forget Solayppan? He is alive”. “Ah right, he is Muthamma’s younger brother, isn’t he? I forgot. Ponniah is the eldest sister’s son. And that little girl and his brother are Ponniah’s grandchildren? How time flies!!”. “Ponniah’s younger daughter works in Seelayampatty school. Ponniah’s younger sister used to work in lakshmipuram school, but she has moved to Chinnammanoor after her marriage. Her husband is also a teacher. Ponniah’s elder daughter was married off to a military man”. “That explains. This boy was referring to some military man”. The bus leaves. “Vettip paya (jobless) conductor, asking all sorts of questions. Tomorrow my grandmother is going to know that we were all here. She is going to kill me for bringing you both here. They have no clue about cycling. They are asking to teach cycling in our vaasal. Wtf !”. Murugan shakes his head. I know Murugan’s fear for his grandmother, i.e., my chinna-great-grandmother (chinna = younger. My great grand mother’s younger sister). Training continues. Gullies generated some more muddy storms.

“Where have you been? I went to watch your training, but you weren’t there”, mother asked when we reached home, after a solid six hours of training, well, Senthil’s talent-show. Mother didn’t need the bus-conductor’s report on us; our clothes, our dry-mud-covered faces and her visit to manthathohtta Maarimuthu’s vaasal just after five minutes of our departure were good enough.. “You nuts, you didn’t even have your lunch. Come here. Go and wash yourselves first. Then eat. Muruga, where are you going? Eat here. You mother is going to kill you, and probably you are not going to get any food at all for today. She has been looking for you since morning”.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Four girls - Dad's lil girl


Long day. Mmmhhhhmmm… “Meenu, come here da. Where is your mother? Still in the kitchen?" shakes head. "I want you to study well and become something really big. You should not depend on others. I don’t want my daughter working like a servant maid in the name of a daughter in law in somebody else house. I want you to be independent. You should study well and get a good job for that. You promise me you will do that?, Ahh, my chellam. Look. She is the dad's lil girl”.

Nod. Proud. Happy.



Long day. Frustration is an understatement. ~sigh~. “Preethu, come here da. What are you doing? Yeah, add one plus one, what do you get? Two, two, say two, two, yaay, she is a genius, Maths genius. Next Sakundhala Devi. Yeah. I want you to be intelligent. Get good marks in the 10th, get a seat in the maths group and then good marks in +2 and entrance exam.. There are no good coaching centres for the entrance exam these days. All are fraud people…”

Confused. Nod. Looking at the two fingers, seems something interesting. Happy.



Long day. Why the hell I always get a nutcase for Boss. ~sigh~ “Ritukutti, come here da. How is your vocabulary doing? What, ahh, your mom!!. Does she talk to you in Tamil? Tell her that she is an illiterate. English is important baby. You know, there is this TOEFL, and there are few other exams to pass…What is the new word you have learnt today? Dinner, say, dinner, dinnnnnnerer, dinner. Yeah. Good. Ask mom for dinner. Yaay. My daughter is definitely going to America. Flight, flight, zooooozooooooo”.

Happy. Zooooooozoooooo…thinner…



Long day. ~sigh~. “Nushamma, Nushukkutti, what are you doing? Come here da. What did you do today? you went to playgroup. Did you? Wow. What did you do? Is that butterfly you created? Wow. So beautiful. Did you colour it yourself? Wow. What, what, you got a new friend too? Who, Mia, is that her name.. what a beautiful name.. ok. What else did you learn?”..I should teach her some maths at home. I want her to be an accountant or a Doctor when she grows up…

Happy. Flying all around the house, like a butterfly…fly, fly, fly, fly…