Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The journey BEGINS

Chapter 2

Paddy field in Kerala
This is the day of joy, freshness and freedom. I always wake early on Sunday’s, too early for my parents comfort. For the rest of the week I would happily sleep till noon if my mother – Amma is what I call her, which is with no doubt the sweetest word in my native language, Malayalam - had let me. Face pressed on the bed, bums facing up and both hands tucked under my body, that’s how I faked my sleep in hope to avoid school. It had worked few times for me at the beginning of my school days and so I continued it as a ritual for so long hoping that it will work again. My mother is the one who always woke me up and I prefer it that way too because the last few times when my father tried it there was a loud crying me than a sleep faking me. He was impatient – a trait that I inherited from him along with thousand other – and impulsive, a dangerous combination that left his right hand printed in red on my small bums. But my mother was gentle and patient, a typical home maker in all means: she will lie beside me, spend some time and eventually will wake me up. If I still won’t wake, she will say something that will wake me up even from my deepest sleep “okay then, I will ask your father to come and wake you up” and she will make a mocking call for my father. But today, it is Sunday, no school, no teachers, no homework till dawn and no need to fake sleep, so up early and ready to explore.

On a Sunday sun the village looks more beautiful than usual. Sun shining bright and shone on the yellowish green paddy field stretching wide, coconut trees on both sides shading the earth bellow, its leaves dances in gentle breeze, rattle as they kiss each other. Small houses are dotted in the greenery with mandarin tiled roof tops and white plastered walls, with most yards decorated by cassava, colocasia, elephant yam and red spinach instead of ornamental plants.

I got out of my house and ran through the cassavas bare footed into the vacant yard where my friends were already present and waiting for me. We ran, jumped, climbed trees, occasionally argued, fought and played all day long; our chatter and cheer filled the air till dusk. As we return to our houses tired but overjoyed, the crickets started to chirp as if to remind me how wonderful a day I had. Many years have passed since then and I am not a child anymore, who could have cared less about the world and played as he pleased.

I had completed my higher secondary education with a good percentage “It is time for you to choose your future” said all my teachers, only seventeen years old and already deciding my future, a complicated task for most but not for me as I already have an ambition, “Engineering”. Four - five months back, exactly 1 week before our 10+2 final examination, our principal visited our class to give a motivational speech to ease our exam pressure since its results determines a young Indian’s fate – the same did they all said about the SSLC examination – I wouldn’t say that the speech wasn’t motivating, it sure was for her as she was praising herself repeatedly most of the time about the new block built because of her hard work, the new commerce batch sanctioned because of her hold in the educational ministry and occasionally about our examination too.  I wasn’t giving much ear to her talk until I heard something about ‘future ambition’; I turned to my right and saw my friend concentrating on each word from her mouth. I asked him “What did she just say now?”

“What?” he replied not even looking at me; I gave him a slight shake on his shoulder and asked again “What did she say about future ambition?”

“Oh that, she said that she will ask each us about our future ambition after the speech”, he said still not looking at me but looked little irritated– I think it’s because I broke his line of contact or something –

“What my future ambition is?” Then again “What is my future ambition??” I thought about it for a bit, “I like physics very much but it can’t be an ambition it’s only a subject” I again thought for some time and found a wonderful solution “I will say whatever Arun –our class topper- says, brilliant” The principal’s speech ended and she started asking about the ambition from the front row, Arun being the class topper always sits in the front row.

“I want to become a MBBS doctor” Arun replied.
I was all set to execute my plan but to my horror most in the two rows after him repeated the same and the whole class started to giggle when the last one said MBBS. So now I can’t say it, if I do the giggle will turn into laughter and I would look like a fool with no self ambition. 

Now I need to improvise “the one on my right will be asked before me, so it is him then” I thought looking at the one sitting to my left, overjoyed as if he had already accomplished his ambition.

“How silly are they to copy it like that from Arun, that fools can’t even think of an ambition of their own, where is our educational system going like this”  I said to him casually, adding a bit disappointment to my face. He gave a node and agreed.

“You look really excited buddy, hope you have a great ambition then” I said

“Yes I have, I am going to be a great EC engineer” he said stressing the last part with much pride.

I was surprised that I didn’t thought that he will give up the information this easy, “anyway mission accomplished, but need to know what EC is though” I thought, “Why an EC engineer” I asked again

“Because my father is an engineer and he want me to be an engineer too, he is a mechanical engineer but he says that I should choose EC as it has more scope” he finished it with a big smile.

“Yes, yes, engineering is a great ambition” I paused a bit “What is this EC really mean” I asked, wanted to make a nice smile on my face but could only manage a weird one. Now he got a bit conscious about my intention and lacked his former enthusiasm in answering

“It’s Electronics and Communication engineering, why asked?”

“Nothing, just to know that’s all” I mumbled, after that I haven’t even peaked at him once. Finally my turn came; I stood up and said out loud filling it with as much enthusiasm as I can “My ambition is to become a great EC engineer, that is Electronics and communication engineer”, a WOW sound rang the classroom, everyone seemed impressed even the principal – but not one person – I took a quick glare on my left, a steamy red face was having a hawk eye stare at me in disbelief.
Cheated or not, I got an ambition now. “I want to be an EC engineer” I announced to my parents. They too were impressed – I think humans have a knack to appreciate things they don’t know than what they do know – but not for long as the Kerala Engineering Entrance Test results were published and I scored an impressive higher rank – in terms of numbers – 47542. With this rank my dream of EC looked more and more bleak but I wasn’t ready to gave up, so again I come up with a perfect solution

“Management quota” I said,

“What is that, some other course, what happen to that electronics thing that you were saying” my mother asked with a perplexed face.

“It’s not a course, my dear budhu – meaning dumb in some sense – In private colleges only a part of the admission is done using government entrance exam merits, the rest is done by the college management were they take money and sells the seats – they prefer calling it donation – and our son here is saying that he want me to buy him an engineering seat, which by the way will take few lakh rupees” my father finished with his usual witty tone, switching his gaze on both of us repeatedly.

“Why did you call me a budhu? If someone doesn’t know something they had to ask, there is nothing dumb about that. No one respects me in this house, all day I work in the kitchen and …..” she was already in kitchen and still murmuring to herself.

My father looked at me bewildered, wondering “What did I do?” I shook my head in a manner which suggested “that wasn’t right what you did dad”

“What??” he shouted, now with bit anger in his voice.

A night view of coimbatore

My father’s eldest brother Rajan, who works in a cotton mill in Coimbatore (Tamilnadu) - a boundary sharing neighbour to my home state Kerala- was the one who told him about the Mahatma Gandhi College there. It was one of the famous colleges in Coimbatore and more over it had a donation and fee structure my father could afford. The college had lot of front page advertisements in Kerala news papers with an eye catching aircraft picture in it, my father showed me one which I wouldn’t have else seen since touching news papers for its intended purpose wasn’t one of my virtues. The picture of the plane caught my eye more than the college name or its courses and thus in a split second my ambition changed from EC to Aeronautical. With uncle Rajan my father send me to Coimbatore all set to buy an aeronautical engineering seat from the Mahatma Gandhi college of engineering (MGCE) but to my great disappointment the seats for that particular course was already full. All my dreams about flying in different airplanes and chit chatting with sexy air hostess vanished into thin air –that’s what I thought an Aero engineers was suppose do at that time- and there was no hope for getting what I wanted now because the donation in other colleges –only two three colleges offered that course in Coimbatore- were more than what an ordinary state government employee could manage. Uncle Rajan phoned home and talked to my father for half an hour,

“My first real ambition and it’s not going to happen now” “So this is what I get for steeling someone else thunder, maybe I am jinxed by him” such thoughts filled my head. I wasn’t much interested in anything that happened around me after that, around 6 pm after a long day at the Mahatma Gandhi College we were back at my uncle’s quarters  He handed me the admission slip, the college name and contact details were printed on top and written bellow,

Name: Rohith Raghu
Course: Electronics and communication engineering
Admission no: 115
Admission fee: Ten thousand rupees only.

“Back to EC again” I thought, “Only ten thousand for ECE” I asked my uncle with surprise, he expelled air firmly through his bigger than normal nostrils – my father’s side distinctive family feature which I escaped because of my mother- like an angry bull and said with slight disgust both in his face and voice 

“Ten thousand only my foot, we paid 2 lakh and they gave only a receipt for ten thousand. What is the need for paying this much along with the fee, when your father went to college I only had to pay ten rupees per month and nothing more” his face stared turning into red but he calmed himself down “Leave all that, I am happy that we didn’t spend 6 lakh on that airplane course, thank god it was already full” now he look relieved and happy but I wasn’t. Now more than the thought of not getting the course I wanted something much serious popped into my head “Where am I going to stay, am I going to stay in this cotters with my uncle for the next four years” the thought itself gave me a Severe head ache.

The quarters were my uncle stayed was a small separate house near the Sree Krishna cotton mills where he worked as a senior supervisor. It had a small hall where few chairs were put and the TV was placed, one room where a bed is place at the farther end and a wardrobe at the other, a small kitchen, an attached bathroom and above all the whole of it had a cigarette smell to it which my uncle uses vigorously-three packets of Wills a day-. My uncle Rajan Vasudevan Nair was the eldest of the three with my father being the younger one. He was fifteen years older than my father and ten years than my other uncle Ravi Vasudevan Nair –the middle one- but looked much older than his actual age. He wasn’t married and according to my father, he and his other brother were the reason for that because my grandfather died when my father was very little and it was uncle Rajan who took care of the family, educated my father and uncle Ravi and made a family for them, in this course he forgot about his own life. For my father and uncle Ravi he is more than their elder brother, they love and respect him like a godfather. Many times I have heard my father asking uncle Rajan to think of a marriage but all the time his answer would be the same

“I am too old for that Kichu –that’s my father’s nick name that my uncles and grandmother uses- , I am happy like this, watching you and Ravi along with your own families living happily. All I wished for was this and I don’t want anything else”
So he is a great man and he loves me like his own son, I like him very much too even though he looked bit grumpy but how will I enjoy my college days staying with him, it will be like living with my parents and going to school all over again.

“Your father asked me to let you stay with me during your studies here” Uncle Rajan said interrupting my thoughts, “I would…” I tried to say something back but was stopped by my uncle’s voice “I don’t have any problem with that at all even I would love a company especially that of my brother’s son but I told your father that you won’t enjoy the company of an old fart like me -he laughed at his own words and continued- so I convinced him to let you stay in the college hostel” I looked at him astonished, even though I couldn’t say a word my face was so bright with joy that it did the talking. I walked to my uncle and hugged him, he again laughed a bit and said to me now with a much quite caring voice “You are young and you will want to enjoy your new freedom to its fullest but keep one thing in mind Rohith, never do anything that will hurt your parents, okay” he smiled at me and I smiled back with the node of my head agreeing to what he said.

To college flag

Chapter 2 ends here and for the rest of the story you have to wait till my book gets published.


  1. very interesting, could stop reading. Your uncle is really very understanding fellow. By the way I am also waiting for your next attempt at poetry.

    1. Hi Meenakshi,
      I am glad that you liked my poem Clay pot, I am working on the next one, hoping that I won't disappoint you. And by the way did you mean could stop reading or couldn't stop reading :D...

      Thanks for visiting :)

    2. Oh! I am sorry, Of course couldn't. My apologies...

  2. Congrats for your new book...and kudos to your excerpts.They are too good.

    1. Hi Uma thank you very much, about the book I haven't completed it yet but will try to finish it soon, thanks again for your wishes :)

  3. first time here I think.. and the story is progressing nicely .. looking forward to the next chapter ..

    so when is the book getting published ..

    All the best with that toooo


  4. ..... :) ....
    Anna waiting fr the book... Wish u luck... :)


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