To My Vijaya Mam


Dear Ma’am,

I always wanted to tell you that I really loved you a lot in school. Knowingly or unknowingly through advices and small punishments you have bought in a lot of changes in my life. You really inspired me to be a better student and to read a lot.

I still remember how you used to walk across the class and explain each poem or play with such intimate expressions and feelings.

vp1One day you got so frustrated with our class that you made the entire class write a sentence 1000 times.

You scored me less most of the time, which made me use my best potential and I scored 78 in my boards!!!

I remember myself rushing in to the old block of Our Own English High School – Sharjah after my Inter School Sports practice to watch  “Julius Caesar (The Black and White Movie)” with you, Rajashree Ma’am, Subashree Ma’am and the class.

Vijaya Mam

I also remember you telling us about your childhood friend Kamala, whom you bumped into in the market while Karthik and Kaushik were in primary school. Tears ran down your eyes while you spoke about her.

You were the first person I knew older than my mother who read the entire series of “Harry Potter” :)

You also told us about a story where Kaushik tried to help a girl whose ID card had fallen down in his bus. He picked it and gave it to her and she came complaining to you that he torn her card. You left with without giving him dinner until finally he came and told you that all he did was to pick it up and give it to her. You felt horrible and hated that girl ever since. Later after years while you reminded Kaushik about the same, he said that “He had forgiven but hasn’t forgotten”.Some of my favorite chapters that you had taught me of which I have a photographic memory are….

The Brook – Robert Frost

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Seven Ages – William Shakespeare

Julius Caesar – William Shakespeare

The Road Less Travelled – Robert Frost (My Favorite)

Ode to the West Wind – Shelly

Ode to autumn – John Keats

Today I read a lot; I have started writing and even have my own blog!!

I miss you and your classes a lot and I wish I could tell you this in person. You were the best and you rock.

I had told these stories to my husband. Yesterday when I saw that it was your birthday I thought that you should do something special. Though this may not be the best write up you may have come across, I would like to tell you with my whole heart that you have created an impact on several people’s minds and there are people especially students who would remember you and your stories. You were one of the most passionate teachers I have ever met and I love you so much.

Happy Birthday To the Best English Teacher in the world.

Yours Lovingly

Shilpa

“Kuttan Annan’s Tea Stall”


Two most memorable characters in my life are “Kuttan Annan aka Kuttayannan” and His son who runs a tea stall nearby my ancestral home. At a very young age of about 3 – 4 years old, I used to climb on top of a tall gate to check on whether my mother had returned from college. She brought Banana Chips from East Fort twice a week without fail and sometimes she would surprise me Pompsy (A brand of Cheese balls) which I would eat without sharing. After retirement from the job in Singapore as the Estate Manager, Gampa (My Grandfather) returned back to Trivandrum, India and started a Private Banking Business and hence people in my old neighborhood called me “Banker De Cherumakal – Puchakanni” which means “Granddaughter of the Banker who has green eyes”. We lived in a traditional mansion where the gates remained closed at all times and the compound walls were built very high in order to maintain privacy. The only option for junior me to see the outside world was to climb on top of these particular tall gate.

Gampa and me

                                                                                  (Gamapa and Me)                                                                                                          

I was familiar with most of my old neighbors and yet was never allowed to go to anyone’s houses other than my Cousin Sharon’s unless accompanied by my care takers (Selvi, Rani or Jehovah) who worked in shifts. After I somehow manage to get on top of the gate, I would put my legs on both the sides, lean on a mango tree and wave my hands at the familiar face that I see passing by. By the time mom would have returned, I would have gathered a mob submerged in their talks forgetting the fact that I would be still sitting on top of the gate outside. As a gesture of courtesy my mother would be forced to either invite them home or someone would have slid me over the gate to the “Kuttan Annan’s Tea Stall”. Everyday someone would get me Cup of Coffee and Vazakka Appam (banana dipped in dough and fried) from Kuttan Annan’s Tea Stall and my mother would have to send a maid to the tea stall to carry me home.

Mom and me

(Mom & Me)

Later Gampa (my grandfather) forbade me from going to the tea stall as he found it a shame that his grandchild eats for free from a totally unhygienic place.  We had 5 servants at home and no matter what they made, I would act fussy and eat well from Kuttan Annan’s Tea Stall. Though my mother insisted Kuttan Annan to take money for what I ate and drank, he would neit

My grandfather, mother and father instructed the servants to make everything I like at home and yet I wouldn’t give up on eating from Kuttan Annan’s Tea stall. Finally they cooked up a story that Kuttan Annan has a disease where the skin on his hands would peel off from time to time which was a symptom of leprosy. He does mix the dough for all the items in the menu with such hands and thus ended my tea stall fun.

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(Jehovah’s mother Mary Akka a month back, when i went to give her my 1st Salary all happy to hear that I was gonna write about her)

I was also put under the supervision of a full time babysitter (Jehovah) who would take me to my Cousin Sharon’s house to watch cartoons at the time when I would climb the gate.

Mom Me & Our Secret Hide Out


I am sure that not many children were fortunate enough to spend quality time with their parents in their childhood like I did. I believe that childhood mould’s a child’s character and hence parental bonding at childhood is vital.

In the earlier days when I was young, there used to be an area of rugged terrain in Cochin where grass of about a feet or two high. To me it was the ideal concept of heaven. It was in a place called Kalamasherry on the way to a Medical College. There also used to be a huge wet land completely abandoned by the city mob nearby. We called it our secret place. Both I and my mother enjoyed spending time with each other in this very special place not known to many.

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I was brought up in India till I was 7 and both me and my mother ensured that we made a visit to our secret place at least once in a week. I believed that I could see till the end of the world from up there. I would be indulged in picking flowers, chasing birds, butterflies, grasshoppers and pappus while my mom would be totally involved in reading books as always.

med_sunset_kylesavethewetlandsBy sun set we could see a group of tribal women and children carrying water in their clay pots, sticks on their heads and children on their backs. Basically they were rag pickers who lived in a colony in the down hills and hence my mother used to be extra cautious while they were around since they were excellent in kidnapping kids. They were dressed in old tribal clothes, mostly worn and torn ones and also wore different looking cheap metal ornaments on their ankles hands neck and waist. The wetland mentioned earlier was a source of fresh water for drinking and irrigation for these tribal people.

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Though I was just a kid then, I used to have a strong psychological bond towards that particular place and believed that heaven had kept something special hidden for me there.  I could neither see nor touch it and yet I was supposed to find that something special there. Though it created emptiness, this feeling encouraged me to keep going to my little heaven each time I visited India.

In 2000, a few years after my family migrating to the UAE, “The Government of Kerala” established “The Cochin Medical College” and the culmination of which resulted in the relinquishment of the grass land, trees and shrubs for construction. A land once I called my heaven became something totally alien to me.

More than a decade later (since I left to Dubai), I spent a year in India to prepare for my Med School Entrance. I ensured that I made it to the Gym regularly and sometimes then I used to sneak out early and drive all the way to my heaven alone to watch the sun set without a license ;). Though there was nothing left there, I used to stand far away and watch the coulee laborers invading my heaven and constructing a new building. And in 2008 I heard that my heaven is going to be the new IT hub of Kerala just like Infosys in Trivandrum

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                                                              (The Tribal Children Looked Similar to the child above)

I felt like sharing something very special of my own with the rest of the world and there was nothing that I could do about it. I could neither protest nor campaign against it. I always wanted to be a mother like mine to my children and I always imagined taking them to my little heaven like my mother did, but now they are never going to see or know how it really looked and felt from up there.

There is a story behind every small piece of land that we see and stand on and I am sure that none will never see or know in real about how much that place meant to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                       

(The Tribal women wore jewelry similar to the ones that the woman in the picture above wears)

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A Village trip from College that reminded me of my secret heaven -(Me & My  friend Jostin)