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Archive for December, 2008

Having an intelligent and extremely knowledgeable person for your father can be truly daunting at times. To grow up in his shadows with all eyes pouncing on you the moment you are left alone. So tell us what you want to be when you grow up? Professor? Mathematician? Journalist? My dad was all of that. While he held a rank in his University, his daughter walked home with an egg in his favourite subject of Mathematics. While he devoured books that filled up shelf after shelf of our little apartment, his prodigy made paper boats and send them on little rivulets that flowed through the gutters after the rains. And while he intently followed news and scourged through papers and spoke passionately about working for the country and its people, his only child spent the major part of her day dreaming!! Expectations were high and I would’nt blame my dad if he felt the way he did about me and even gave me sound beatings for it. And although I resented it all through my growing years, I hold absolutely no hurt inside me. But the price I’ve had to pay thanks to all the inquisitive, well meaning adults during my childhood, works up to quite a hefty sum. It’s not the beatings or the scoldings that I truly detest, but what hurt me the most was the love that was snatched away from me. You cannot blame anyone. Society had its ways, but the expectations it imposed, it really tore me and my dad away from each other, wasting many many precious years.

 

Education had failed me miserably and it was no different the day I got my 6th Std half yearly papers. I walked back home, changed and sat in front of my books like an obedient little thing. My father was suitably impressed when he returned home, that his otherwise uncouth being of a daughter was a. At home and b. Was studying, or atleast appeared to be as she sat with many books sprawled open in front of her. What he did not know was that each of those books had an exam sheet underneath with grades at degrading levels. And comments like ‘very poor’, ‘weak’ and even ‘parents meet’ in bleeding red ink. Even as I stared into my book, I rehearsed the lines that would serve as ideal opening lines before actually handing out the papers. “Acha, don’t be angry, but I….”

He would lift his head from an Umberto Eco or a Pablo Neruda and look at me through his glasses. Words fail me to describe the word ‘terror’, but that is what would grip me and all those rehearsed lines would creep out through a silent corner of my head. A sound thrashing was inevitable, but it was ok as long as I got a signature from him. After mentally prepapring myself, I would collect all the papers from under the books and slowly step out. With a sullen face I would cross the kitchen from inside which, my mom would come out and follow me. This was a regular scene at home after every term. Everybody in the house knew exactly what position and stance to take. But to my surprise, that day was different, the reason why of all the terror stricken days, this one seems to be the one I can often recollect. Because for the first time my dad did not hit me. It was probably disgust and I believe he truly was tired. With the paper presentation and my failed delivery of rehearsed lines and his absolute intolerance turning into anger after the bleeding remarks stained his pride, he got up, placed the book down, removed his glasses, rolled up the sleeves and without any warning lifted me, opened the balcony door even as I dangled by one arm and threw me out. I crash landed against the shoe box where ‘Ammini’ poocha (my garbage-trotting cat) delivered five generations. Just when I had given up all hope and resigned to curling up and crying, the latch suddenly seemed to open. I was overjoyed. My mom had intervened I thought. She had talked to my dad and was getting me out, or rather in. I got up, wiped my tears and waited for my dad to open the door and call me in. And in that one hopeless moment I had forgotten everything. I was ready to forgive and correct myself. I earnestly resolved to change and be a good girl. I imagined studying hard for days together without food and water and for endless sleepless nights, until my parents felt bad and pulled me away from books. I imagined writing exams with fervour and full confidence and running home like the Bournvita ad kids with A+ grades that would have ‘very very good’ remarks shining bright and green next to my roll number. And my mom would smile and be happy and my dad would pat me on my back.

 

Tubelight streaked into the balcony and found its way into my small garden behind it as the latch opened. My dad appeared and as I proceeded to smile and step forward to announce my plans for the future, he brought my school bag and threw it in and latched the door again. From inside he shouted “You are NOT going to school again”. Did I hear that right? In an instant my tears vanished. My anger disappeared and I felt a strange sense of peace and tranquility descend upon me. Under the moonlit night, as the foxes howled, I smiled. No more school, I told myself happily.

 

Of course I was sent back to school the next day. With signed exam sheets, a heavy bag and a heavier heart. My teachers werent happy that I had gotten the signature. And they took it out on me during the PTA meeting. Life continued to torment me with many more such exams. I never earned those ‘V.V.Good’ remarks on any of the papers. The only time I did manage to score was in the final year of my school. But this time the only reason I did something was because I felt ashamed. Truly ashamed and really regretful that I had hurt my parents so much. I couldn’t stand to see my intelligent father turn his head with shame everytime somebody spoke of his only daughter’s achievements in school. So why didn’t I study even though I was capable of bringing in decent grades? Because of the simple reason that I did not believe in it. I don’t remember anything of what I had learned save for a few chapters in science, geography and history. But history and geography never had a decent position where Mathematics was considered to be God. So I will not even bring in the outcasts like Art and Music into the picture. If my father is reading this, I would like him to know that the only real reason for his daughter’s poor performance all through her school years was because she felt unfair. Because she did not believe in an education system that discriminated and failed to treat all children as equals. I still remember the words of a certain evil Maths teacher I had, who said kids like me were born to work as housemaids or roadside vendors. Well, I have nothing to say to her, because education doesn’t seem to have done anything much to her either. So here is the thing. My father is intelligent, knowledgeable, honest, hardworking and everything else that I am not and can only ever hope to become. But just because I was born as his daughter doesn’t mean I follow his path or be as great as him. For me, as a dad all I need is his love and that is all I really care about. So irrespective of what people might say, I’d like to tell my dad that he has done the best job he could to raise something as stubborn and unmanageable as me. I am me and this is what I do, and I’m trying the best I can. I could be biased here, but he happens to be one of the greatest men I know. And that’s probably why he is where he is now for me- Knowledgeable, respectable and unreachable! And I think I like things to remain exactly that way. 🙂

 

 

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He s got the whole world in those smilin eyes...

Little boy from a fishing village, Marina beach, Chennai

My friends had this awesome birthday surprise for me. They got a couple of fisher folks (through a very dear old colleague of mine) to arrange a boat and go a few kilometers into the sea and take a dip. While waiting for this colleague and his friends, I tried to escape the sun and found shelter inside an auto that was parked nearby. I placed myself comfortably in the driver’s seat, but got startled suddenly when I felt something moving behind the backseat. I turned to find nothing. There was movement again… This time a little scared, I turned again to look behind me. The little monster ducked for a second time, but forgot to take his arm along. So I got up and took a peek behind the seat and found this little treasure there. And he had the whole world in those smiling eyes….

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The King’s henchman escapes with only a small injury on his left shoulder. He jumps into a nearby stream and dives under the current to reach the secret tunnel. Despite the injury, he manages to drag himself out of the water safely and gasps heavily for breath. Suddenly, a shadow looms in front of him. He lifts his head up slowly, to look at the figure towering above him….. (Slow fade to darkness….)

King Marcus looks down at his man and smiles, relieving the henchman. They spend a few minutes discussing quietly against the dancing flames of the only torch that is keeping the tunnel alit. After the discussion, King Marcus turns his head to look at me. A shiver finds its way up to my head and I freeze. They both walk towards me, their sandals slish-sloshing in the water. I get up from where I had been sitting and observing them, from behind a pillar. Even at full length, I reach only up to his chest. King Marcus has an imposing frame; and that wide expanse of a chest was taking in all the air, leaving very little oxygen for me to breath. He studies me for a while, and after exchanging a glance with his man, smiles a smile of approval and says:- “You are PERFECT”. Another shiver, another breathless moment. King Marcus puts his heavy hand on my shoulder and leads me away to the entrance of the tunnel. It was time to discuss and strategize. “Assassination” was afterall no child’s play……..

No, this is no theatrical play I enacted in, although I think it surely would’ve made a wonderful story for one. And assigning me with the role of an assassin is none other than Thoughton, who either desperately wants to show off that he is capable of such bravery or just wants to play a stupid one on me when I’m generally not in control- in my sleep. Never mind the climax of the dream, where I decide that I cannot kill a human being and turn my back on King Marcus with a refusal to the commitment. I think it required more bravery on my part to go against somebody as huge and powerful as King Marcus, but I aint gonna gloat about it now. I think I’ll just expose Thoughton in broad daylight while I’m still alive, so that once again you may all laugh at my wonderful friend who happens to be in the business of churning stories by night- (A revenge for clobbering my head with heavy hoof sounds and connecting me with evil Roman kings….. or is it Shakespearean?)

Behind the scenes:

Me: “But King Marcus? Wherever did you get that from Thoughton?. King Marcus it seems…. Hah…King Marc…..”

Thoughton: ENOUGH! You’ve already made me the laughing stock of your blog….I happen to imaginative…. Maybe a little ‘too’ imaginative for you….

Me: Aa aa, if only you’d put this imagination into something more useful… I could’ve atleast become famous…

Thoughton: Ha ha haa… Some dreams ‘you’ seem to have in there…..? I think mine s better….. far better… Ha ha haaa…..

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