Thursday, June 21, 2012

Girl from the estate

When I came back from UK after doing my master's degree, I only had the bag with my clothes with me. The rest I had to start from the scratch. A friend of mine helped me with the rent deposit and I found an apt not too far from KL.
My unit was on the 5th floor. The unit in front of me was occupied by the mistress of a famous Datuk and unit by the side was occupied by an Indian guy ( Malaysian). We often met in the lift. He was very friendly and was very impressed with the fact that I spoke Tamil !. One day he asked me if I would have an eye on his apt as he is going home to get married.

My work hours were long and unpredictable and by then I was also told by my gynaecologist that I wouldn't be able to carry a baby. I wasn't too keen on meeting the newly arrived bride. My burdens were too heavy and I wasn't in a mood to be friendly. Besides, I also didn't own any accouterments needed to invite someone over for dinner.   Each time I waited for the lift, I hoped I wouldn't meet the guy and his wife because I really didn't want to invite them over for a meal as required by the customs.
It was one such evening I was walking from the lift lobby to my apt with a great sense of relief that I dodged them again. I was also weary that they might come out of their house, so I usually quickened my steps when I was near their door.Just as I passed the door, I thought I heard a whimpering sound. Though I am deaf, I can hear sound at a certain frequency better and much as I wanted to think that I was imagining the sound, I was also sure that I did hear  a whimpering sound. I looked at the door. Nothing unusual. I considered ringing the bell, but then I will have to talk and that would lead to the invitation for dinner. So I ignored the whimpering.
But over the next few weeks, I heard more whimpering. I also noticed that the guy started to lock the grill with a pad lock from outside.

Have you ever heard whimpering? It isn't a full fledged is not even a whine  it is the little sounds of a broken is like someone is afraid to cry, and try to keep all the cries in a box and little cries escape every now and then. I heard it every time the guy left for work and it only stopped when he came back home.
I rang the bell one evening.
She didn't open the door.
I rang the bell again and again. She never opened the door. But the whimpering stopped everytime I rang the bell.
I kept thinking about the padlocked grill and wondered what if there is a fire? Has she got a spare key?
One evening, I rang the bell when I knew the guy is back from work. He closed the main door after him and came and opened the grill to talk to me.
I tried to chat. He wasn't interested.
I told him I would like them to come over for dinner. He had a dinner to go, a function at the temple, a friend's marriage etc for each of the sundays and public holidays till the end of the year. I finally tried my last card.
I asked " Where is your wife? I haven't seen her" and he replied, she is resting and went back inside.

I rang the bell every day.
She never opened the door. I don't think she was allowed.

Is she the only one? Nah, there were others..

ps. I haven't forgotten about the book. It is just that I am waiting for my tech support to finish the IT part, so I can publish the book as an ebook..and I can only write the blog in the morning and I tend to do that at daofto..

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Prof Johnikutty

I was raised in a very Christian home. Going to church, attending Sunday school, choir and youth group were what made a good Christian raised in a good christian family. By participating the above activities you can portray the image of piousness to others who are watching your every step. Everyone followed the same rules. Because everyone wanted to be accepted in to the fold of "god fearing family"
But at no time, I heard anyone talk about homosexuality.
We were taught about Sodom and Gomorrah at the Sunday School with subtle insinuation about how wrong homosexuality is.

Homosexuality is not part of a 'well raised' god fearing Malayalee Christian community.

We certainly never had gays in Kottayam.. or did we?

I joined the medical school in Bangalore and once in a while during the ragging process, there would be a talk among seniors (boys) as to which junior is supposedly gay and how we should 'fix' him !!
Of course we learned about human sexuality, but again, there were never any mentions of homosexuality and there was no way we could have accepted a homosexual in to our college. After all homosexuality can and should be cured!

Of course by then I was a voracious reader and read about famous gay men and I was also madly in love with Freddie Mercury and he had said once " I am as gay as daffodil my dear". So, yes, there were 'real' gays I knew, but they all lived in other countries and none were Malayalees!

Once in a while, I would meet a guy wearing saree in the bus ( hijada) and I knew not to stare at him for I would be showered with abuses for staring. Occasionally I would meet a very effeminate patient admitted at the hospital and I ignored the annoying effeminate part, at least I tried. It felt weird to deal with a guy who acted like a female, what with the whole nursing staff making comments about the correct ward ( read female) to send my male patient to.

Eventually I met 'him'.
We met at a book shop in Bangsar. He is very tall, fair and handsome. What I noticed about him was the way he dressed. It was as though he walked out of the Gwalior Suiting ad.
Imagine a crowded book shop full of Asians ( short) and then in the middle is this tall guy, clearly Indian, but unlike most Indians, he was dressed very well.
My curiosity was piqued when I noticed the books he had chosen, he picked the same books I came to buy. And then the owner of the book shop came out and said he wants to introduce me to 'someone'.
And that was the beginning of a friendship..
He is well educated, well read, and is a seasoned traveller. He is also gay.
My idea of gay men up until that moment was someone who is effeminate..a loser..
Now, don't get me wrong, I had nothing against Gay men, but my Christian upbringing had ensured that I have set notions about homosexuality.
But my friend was not effeminate. He was true and true a macho man.
If I ever needed a friend to talk to and if he was in KL, however busy he is, he would still find time to come over to my house. He made good tea and we talked. I could talk to him for hours.

I am a practicing atheist and he is a fideist and we could argue till the cows come home and agree to disagree and meet again the next time and argue. The conflict was obvious. A gay man believing in God!! that too a Christian God !

He often talked about being gay and how it was to live in a country that considers homosexuality as a sin .  His family has never accepted the fact that he is gay and chose to ignore that fact. They were busy finding a suitable girl for him , for they believed a marriage to a wonderful and sexy girl would cure him of his homosexuality.
When I whinged and whined about small things, he never complained about how unfair everyone was to him. How he never had a heterosexual male friend.
But what bothered him the most was the exploitation of homosexuality.
JKR had once said Dumbledore is gay and my friend felt betrayed. He said she was looking for cheap publicity.
He knew I write and told me if you are ever going to write about a gay character, have the courage to write it from the beginning, don't insinuate that the character is gay.

I had often wondered how a Malayalee community would accept a gay professor?
How would a professor, a Gandhian live in Kerala if he is gay?
Would he follow his ideologies and lead an ascetic life?
Would he be a closet gay?
Would he have the courage to admit that he is gay?
That is where you will find Prof Johnikutty

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mrs. Skariah

It isn't often a writer gets chance to say about the Characters in her book. When you read a book, you are hearing the narrator describing each moment. But the character exist even before that.
Today, I thought I will write about Mrs. Skariah.
I love the name and spend many an agonizing hour trying to spell her name right. Should it be Scariah or Skariah. Being a Malayalee, I felt more at ease with Skariah.

Years ago, I had to deal with a staff who didn't turn up for work every other day. As such work in a hospital is 24 hours and when a staff doesn't turn up, it affects the work of the whole dept. What was surprising was the fact that usually there is an animosity among staff when one often misses work, but in this case the whole dept seemed to cover up for the missing staff. There was not a single complaint from anyone in that dept. Only the payroll was up in arms.

I have seen her at work. She is very efficient, capable and always had a smile on her face. And I had to find out why she missed work rather frequently.So I called her to my room to to talk to her.

I was sitting at my desk, reading the termination letter HR had already prepared. (The one part of my work I hated the most). I knew she had children. I knew if I let her go, then she may not get another job. I was feeling very miserable.
And in walked this 5 foot 4 woman, a bit on the chubby side, curly hair and bright sparkling eyes.
She looked straight in to my eyes and told me "Dr, I know why you called me for this meeting, but I am hoping you would give me a chance to explain"
Then she told me her story.
She was born in a Kampong ( village), the youngest child of a rubber tapper. She was the only one who finished her SPM  ( 10th std) among her siblings and finally got admission to do nursing. While she was doing her first year, her oldest sister who was married to a very abusive man committed suicide.  Her mother started taking care of the grand children. Everyone knew her sister took her life because she couldn't bear the abuses from her husband.
I was feeling a bit annoyed. Here I am sitting with this letter in front of me and instead of telling me something that would save her job, she is talking about her life story. I considered signing the letter and getting it over with.
She looked at me and continued.
"I was in the final year when I got a telegram from my mother that said, start immediately, father very ill. Dr, there is only a night train back to the village and I rushed to catch the train, all the while worrying about my father. would he live till I reach home? I worried so much.  When I was at the station waiting for the train, I called the village chief's home to ask about my father's condition and to tell my family that I am taking the night train. But the chief didn't tell me anything when I asked about my father, and I knew something bad had happened.
The train arrived at the station near my village early morning. As I came out of the train, I looked for a familiar face, because I knew someone would come from home to pick me up. When I saw that there was no one, I knew something very bad had happened. The village where my house was a long walk from the station. My bag felt so heavy, in my hurry to catch the train, I had no idea what I packed. The streets were still dark and I was a bit scared. But I wanted to see my father, so I walked faster.
Just as I reached my home, I saw that there were a lot of people. Then I saw mother. She took my bag from hand, held my hand and told me to hurry up. I thought my father was taking his last breath and I rushed inside. but it wasn't my father I saw inside my house. It was my brother in law, dressed in all wedding finery. I was getting married to the man who killed my sister and my mother arranged it all.

I looked at her stunned. As a doctor, I have seen different kinds of mothers. But this particular mother was the most unusual. She got her youngest daughter to marry a man who was responsible for her oldest daughter's death.How could she do that to her own daughter?

She still lives with her husband and takes care of her children and her sister's children. She misses work when her husband comes home after binge drinking ( because he hits her and the children.)
I didn't sign the termination letter.
But her story has always been with me. I can still see her walking to her wedding (or is it her nightmare)unwittingly and I wanted to write about such mothers. The ones who could make a difference, but chose not to because of reasons only they know. That is Mrs. Skariah

Monday, April 23, 2012

I need help

Hi there
I know it is a big ask.
But without the help of each and everyone of you, there is no way I will have any success.
I am hoping to publish my book as an ebook end of June and my success as a writer depends entirely on you.
Could you please help me by linking my blog to your blog?



Night Whisperers

Friday, March 30, 2012


When I started writing the novel, I had named it era (prey).There is something mysterious about the word era.
For me era feels softer, susceptible and gentle, yet not so helpless whereas prey is something you see in National geographic programs, in one of those African Savannah's, chased by the bigger stronger animal.

When Yaya read the title, she read it as Era ( like common era) and I had to explain to my bewildered child that I meant something totally different. So obviously I had to find a different name.

I write at night.
Right outside my bedroom window is my favourite Muraya tree. In the last 6 months, the tree has grown totally out of control ( as opposed to before when the previous owner had trimmed it to make it look a work of art).
The tree is 7 feet tall, beautiful glossy dark green leaves and when in bloom produces the most fragrant white flowers. It is a very hardy native plant, doesn't need to be watered  and will not die under my loving neglect.
Though I am (partially) deaf, when all is quiet, I can hear the wind whispering the secrets to the Muraya  and the leaves rustling
Wind carries with her the sighs. The sigh of a mother trying to soothe the crying child all night, The sigh of a woman feeling contended to be in her lover's embrace. It is the sigh of the child dreaming of the castles and Queens in the sky kingdom. The sigh of the mother grieving for dead child, the sigh of a broken heart,
So many sighs the wind carries to the Muraya and whispers at night. As I mentioned yesterday, it is the sighs that became words.
That is why I named the book, Night whisperers.
Is the title good?
Pls let me know.

Please note:All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living, dead or currently living like dead is purely coincidental.
It is highly possible that some resemblance to persons living, dead or currently living like dead might be plainly apparent to them and those who know them. but it is purely coincidental.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I remember reading somewhere that everyone has a story to tell. A story hidden beneath layers and layers of lies and broken promises.
If you unravel those ugly layers of lies and broken promises, there in the middle, you will find a little sigh.
This is the story of the little sighs that became words.
I am not a writer.
That begs the question, if I am not a writer, then what am I?
I am a woman, a strong woman, who hates the euphemistic description of strong woman often used by feminists that says, "I am a woman, hear me roar"
I have no voice to roar, for I am filled with sighs.

When the night is all quiet, often you can hear the dogs howling in the distance and if you listen close enough, you can hear a sigh, a soft sigh, a sigh that struggles to find its way out of the deep dark place that inhabits my mind, a sigh that competes with my tears, a sigh that is the beginning of the end.
If those sighs could tell their story,then there is a story to be told and that is the story here.
I am not a writer. I am a strong woman who is overwhelmed by all those soft sighs, those tiny little sussurations that wants their story to be told.