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Ek Vivaah…Aise Bhi

It was 6th June 2009. My parents’ wedding anniversary and my Neurology final examinations. After answering the paper, I came back to my room and took a short nap. Evening seeped in slowly. After purchasing Agatha Christie books at Gramedia bookstore. I had to buy it or else I would be subjected to extreme boredom in Padang until the day comes for me to fly back Malaysia for my semester break and to get my lappie fixed….sigh

I felt sad. For not being there for with my parents on their special day. It’s been 27 years they’ve tied the knot. All I could do was to wish them through the phone. Thank God for that! It was another boring Saturday night in Padang (trust me…Saturday nights in Malaysia are much better no matter how lame they may seem to be). I thought of watching a nice Hindi movie. I watched, Ek Vivaah….Aise Bhi(A wedding….like this). The cast includes Isha Kopikkar, Sonu Sood, Vishal Malhotra and so on. It’s not another Bollywood movie filled with glamorous sex sirens clad in 2-piece bikinis or hot studs flexing their muscles. In fact, it was rather melo-dramatic. The plot evolves around Chandni(Kopikkar) having to sacrifice/postpone her marriage with her beau, Prem(Sood) in order to get her 2 siblings a promised future.

As the years flew…both her siblings blossomed as caring and loving people and Chandni plans to get them married. Her brother got married with a wealthy girl that refuses to get in terms with Chandni. This causes Chandni’s brother to move out and live separately with his new wife. His Father-in-law realized the mistake done by his daughter and corrects her and persuaded her to move in again with Chandni. Chandni also plans to get her sister married with her Sangeet student, who now resides in US. Right after the wedding ceremony of Chandni’s sister, both of Chandni’s siblings gets their beloved sister Chandni finally tying the knot with Prem after all these years in waiting….watching this movie trickled my tears and a sense of triumph slowly emerging from the depth of my heart….

Siblings….love them or hate them, they are here to stay.

I recently flew back to Malaysia for a quick break to rejuvenate myself from the tiresome world of medical faculty. Plus, to attend my deceased grandpa’s 8th and 16th day prayers. Happy feeling of getting back home is felt more rather than feeling sad for the lost of my grandpa. I’m not a heartless prick but I just lost touch with my maternal grandpa. As far as I’m concerned, he didn’t do anything that made me remember him forever. So it was rather a small matter to me that he departed to the abodes of heaven. Neither did I remain my diet as a vegetarian during the period of mourn. I was happily munching away pieces of succulent Kentucky Fried Chickens and delicious burgers of McDonald. I can conclude that the death of my maternal grandpa was just a lame excuse for me to fly back home.

Upon arriving home, I was greeted by Mama. I was so anxious to get out that day and visit Amman temple but Mama insisted that I should remain at home and retain the period of mourn. So much for his departed soul. I know I’m not supposed to curse him but I really did! He died of old age! Whats the big deal? I’m sure he won’t let his grandchildren be held captive at home and remain a strict diet of vegetarian. I couldn’t do much but oblige to Mama’s request. The next day after arriving home, I was told by Mama to do a small shopping at the nearby supermarket. I bought whatever enlisted by Mama and bought some stuffs needed for me to bring back to Padang; Malaysian sweet soy sauce, instant mushroom soup and instant noodles. After purchasing it, I returned home and had my lunch. Mama told me that grandpa’s 8th day prayers are about to start by 7pm, so we need to get ready as fast as possible and fetch sister from National Service Camp at Ulu Pari Aqua Village in Rembau.

Dear Lord! To get my sister out from the wretched camp was an eternity wait. Their staffs work in a tortoise-pace. After much hype, we finally reached Mama’s ancestral home in Tampin. I saw most of my cousins there but few are missing due to studies abroad and so on. I ignored most of the grown-ups and greeted my cousins. After the prayers ended, it was truly a happy occasion as we cousins start joking around and having dinner together. I put up a night there with my other cousins, Shangeetha and Shankar. Not to forget their parents, Uncle Moorthy and Aunt Kumari.

We talked and talked all night long and dozed off. The following day, we had a lavish breakfast and went out to Tampin town for window shopping. It was a turn-off eventually as Tampin town is such a small and minimal township with no malls at all. Shangeetha and I couldn’t help but grunt in vain. After dinner, we watched Om Shanti Om with the help of my laptop and ended the day. On Sunday, I returned home and went on a shopping spree in Jusco Seremban 2 with my friends. On Monday, I accompanied my sister to KGV to get registered for her Sixth Form. The moment I stepped into the school premise, memories of Form Six slowly emerge from deep down.

The school is still the same but with some improvement here and there. I did notice the fully-tiled classrooms and staffroom and whiteboards are seen rather than blackboards. How much fun I used to have in this school before? Slowly, faces of my beloved close friends in Sixth Form come up. Prema, Irene, Thawfeek, Yoges, Rajes, Kartik, Thana, Sheena, Gowri, Shashila, Mez, Lydia, Mugunthan, Chin Thung, Dasarathu, Ruban are just a few I could mention. The list are much more. Form Six taught me more than just Biology and Chemistry. It taught me how to be independent and self-sufficient. How I wish to rewind back time and re-live those stress-free life again…sigh…I came back to reality when sister patted me on my back. We came back home after she finished her registration and she refused to stay longer there. We had a veggie lunch with a long face. I sneaked out from home with my friend to have a quick fix at McDonald. I had Spicy McDeluxe Chicken burger. Yummy!

Friday finally came. After we had lunch, Mama and Papa asked me to drive to Mama’s ancestral home in Tampin for grandpa’s 16th day prayers. I was truly irritated with the ritual but I was happy as I could meet up my cousins. Some actually. There are a few cousins having some sort of feud with me. I have changed. That’s for sure. I am not going to be the regular, plain Joe anymore. I’m a future doctor. In addition, I knew some stuffs my cousins hardly pay attention to. So that’s it. I won’t be taken granted of anymore.

Being so frustrated with the flood of relatives, I could only keep quiet and watch the fun. My paternal side showed up as well. I took great care of them. I finally realized that my paternal side are much more better compared to mymaternal side. Three of my uncles and two aunt came. They were so happy to see me. I could only smile in return. I’m the only Doctor in their side. Boy, am I happy to hear that! Mama introduced to me her aunt, she is the one of my deceased maternal grandmother’s cousin. I did realize that she is a Kannadiga. When I spoke to her in Kannada, her face glowed as though I’m delivering a Godly speech. I can proudly boast that out of all my maternal side, I’m the only person that can speak, understand and write Kannada.

Sandalwood blood had almost been eradicated from my maternal side. Thanks for the Tamilization of all Indians staying in Malaysia, more and more ethniques of India are subjeted to this phenomenon. I beg to differ! Indians comprised of Bengalis, Punjabis, Marathis, Kannadigas, Telugus, Malayalees, Sindhis, Oriyas, Tulus, Konkanis, Gujarathis and so forth. Tamils are only part of it. The system of Indians in Malaysia has been generalized as Tamilians. Damn those ignorant little nitwits! A decent Indian reciding in Malaysia has only able to converse in Tamil, English and Malay. Other Indian languages never stood a chance to be in the vernacular system in the Education panel. I hope that in future, Indians are more eager to learn about their Indian origins. Lets hope for the best.

Losing grandparents

I lost my paternal grandfather when I was 10 years old. It was more like a tragedy. I was in my room doing my homework when Papa called from his workplace (Hospital) and told that grandpa has been called to the Lord’s home. I was sad but the feeling was not long lived. When I went to papa’s ancestral home, the chance of meeting cousins overcame my grief. Besides, I was only 10 year old. Grandpa died of cardiac arrest. I didnt understand the term then. I could only watch mama and other ladies cry bitterly when they saw grandpa lie motionlessly in the coffin.

Time flew. I was doing my Upper Six. It’s Mothers Day 2002. I reached home from Chemistry tuition around noon. Mom called from workplace (the same hospital mentioned earlier) and informed that papa’s mom had passed away that day. I was shocked! It was Mother’s Day for crying out loud! I was just about to go out and purchase a Mother’s day cake with my sister. Damn! I didn’t go to papa’s ancestral home that instant because I need to study for the upcoming exams. After taking my bath and settling down to study again, mama n papa came back home. They came to fetch me to go to papa’s ancestral home in Labu, not far away from my house, about 15 minutes journey by car. I entered the house and heard the lamentation of the ladies, however it wasn’t at all that saddening. Indians have this pathetic way of lamenting the lost of loved ones. It’s called “Oppaari”. One of the older ladies start these so-called saddening tune of words depicting how she didnt know that the person could end his/her life. In addition, inserting some information on children, grandchildren, house, farm, even to some certain extent, debts. I couldn’t help but to laugh at it. Mama hushed me to keep silence but I could decipher that she herself couldn’t take the scenario. The real touching part came when we started the funeral service the following day at noon. I read Sivapuranam, a Hindu chants to go along with my deceased grandma. Without realizing, tears trickle down my cheeks. We end the service by circumambulating grandma with lighted sticks.

Time flew again. It’s just struck mid might of Christmas Eve 2005. I retired to bed after a long night. I was awaken by the alarming sound of my mobile phone at 6 in the morning. My cousin, Poo was on the other line. He informed that my maternal grandma passed away in the early morning due to heart attack. I hung up and pinched myself to find out whether I was jus hallucinating or having dreams. It was painful. Wait! Mama doing night shift today and we promised grandma that we are going to visit her during these long holidays during the end of the year. Today was supposed to be a get-together among my maternal side.

Now alas, it is a get-together at all. Papa came into my room and told the news, and said that he needs to hurry to Hospital. When papa came back with mama, she was already crying bitterly, blaming herself for not being there during grandma’s last moments. She even fainted in the hospital when papa delivered the bad news to her. We hurried to mama’s ancestral home in Tampin, located 50km from our place, an hour journey by car. We reached our ancestral home and found that they were just finished bathing grandma. Mama cried and cried over grandma and fainted again. We brought her into a room and left her there. Meanwhile, we embalmed grandma ourselves. According to Hindu tradition, embalming is done by the close relatives and not send to private embalmers. It’s considered quite rude to the deceased. The ordeal ended by the same rites and I got the chance to carry the pyre bowl and sat next to her.

It was Christmas Eve and the highway was jammed tremendously. Traffic crawled bumper to bumper. We reached to the funeral pyre station in Seremban almost 3 hours later. After some last rites, the undertakers inserted the casket in the electric ignited pyre. It was too dramatic for me. I just couldn’t imagine. I was just talking to her few days before. Right now, she’s already burning in her pyre. We reached grandma’s home and cleansed ourselves. The mourn period for Hindu’s last from 16-31 days. The unofficial period could run up to a year. However, we just followed the basic 16 days. During the 15th night, we had special prayers for her until the break of dawn. Then the men went to the seashore to do final rites of releasing the soul from worldly attachments. I didn’t join due to the non-stop singing of chants until 6a.m. I stayed back and helped my other cousins to clean up the house. The ordeal finished by noon.

It took me almost a year to get used to life without a grandma. Though Im not personally attached to her, I used to remember how I longed to spend holidays in her house. Plus the chance of meeting my cousins. Everything just vanished now. I continued my studies to Indonesia. I was just about to enter Clinical Pathology lectures when I got mama’s message. Mama’s dad passed away around 10 a.m. on Labor Day! I could only breath heavily and prayed to God! I was about to fly back next Thursday and I got this dreadful news on Friday. Damn!!!!

Losing grandparents might be saddening but life must go on. When I ponder upon my past and rekindle the memories I have with both my paternal and maternal grandparents, it’s so much to lose. I was unable to see my grandpa for the last time but I hope he understands that I’m basically stuck in Indonesia and can only join the 8th and 16th day prayers. GOD bless his soul!

I’m officially grandparentless on the 1st of May 2009. The feeling is depressing but its worth letting go. They are old and need to reach God’s abodes in heaven. According to Hindu believe, excessive mourning and excessive enjoyment of a deceased are avoided to let the departed soul leave its worldly attachments and finally attain God’s grace.

I do hope that all my grandparents are accepted in Lord’s home and may their soul be blessed always! Aum Shanthi Shanthi Hi! Logaa Samasthaa Sukhino Bhavanthu!

Oh my dear God!!!!! I feel that every one is against me. Am I being paranoid or is it normal? A surge of anger is slowly effecting my feelings. Never had I feeling so down in life. How I wished that I’m able to literally flush out all these negative vibes from my soul.

Sad. Angry. Disappointed. That’s all I’m feeling right now. I feel like I want to be emancipated from this whole world. Not that I’m suicidal but it’s really bugging me why people can’t appreciate me for the things I do. Of all my life, I’ve been taken granted by all. Being the object of scrutiny by everyone. Yet, I carried on with life.

I still remember how I had to survive all kind of conflicts alone. I remembered how I missed my friends gathering just to help one of my cousins wedding preparation. In addition, I remembered doing the rangoli decor by myself though I had many female cousins that, God forbid, never knew anything about Indian traditions or just plain ignorant to give a helping hand. Not to mention, the tremendous task of cleaning granny’s house for Diwali celebration. All those helps I rendered without any complaints. I always thought that there will be some precious moments kept in hiding for me to treasure.

Owwh and another thing. Being compared to my cousins is another pain in the rear. I’ve been compared ever since I’m small. Mom loves to do that. “Look at L***. He’s so studious and ever so quiet. Why can’t you be like him?”, ” How good R***** is with everyone, and so thin and lean. You should learn from him”….Mom would go on and on comparing me with my cousins. Yet, I kept quiet and just shook my head in agreement to her.

I managed to prove my mom that I’m still worth it and better compared to my adversaries. After many hurdles, I did aced it. Mom soon realized that I am actually worth every penny she put for education and so on. Dear Lord!!! It took mom long enough to realize that. However, things have taken another flow. There are certain people in my life just waiting to set me adrift, lost, and searching for my true self.

Serendipity always stores quite an exciting life for me. God knows how I’m going to excel in all of it. No matter what happens, I’m ready for whats in store. God The Almighty knows my rendezvous and helped me in many ways. Its because him I’m still alive and kicking. Glory to HIM

Cousins

It had been ages since I hang out with my cousins. I doubt whether I can have an ongoing conversation with them. Somehow I realized that I have been drawn apart from them. Walking down the memory lane, I remembered how I longed for long school term holidays. I would literally take the next bus to my grandparents house after school finishes on Friday, just to see them. Now, that was the 90’s!!! Things have CERTAINLY changed. Hardly for the better.

I do admit that due to some reasons, I have changed. I started to look on blood ties in a different perspective. I no longer think that cousins are your best friends and to whom you can share your deep and darkest secrets. Sadly, it’s quite the opposite. Quite the contrary, something inside my heart tells the other. Why can’t I have the same feelings and affection I used to have? I cant even remember when was the last time I had a blast with my cousins. It’s all about, “Who’s the best?”, “Who got the latest gadgets?”, “Who got the handsome paycheck?” and “Who get to travel all around the world?”. Its all a game of competition in the end.

Festivals always bring families together. Every year, Diwali would be celebrated in a simple way by my parents. They never taught me to spend over the budget. Though we can afford many pleasures in life, such as Euro tour, Designer clothings, First-class dining, we never did all that. It’s like we are similar to ants, always saving for the ‘winter’. First day of Diwali would be spend in my house,praying and thanking God for a splendid year, entertaining guests and consuming traditional delicacies. Second day would be spent in Mom’s ancestral home, reuniting with all family members and having a great time. I simply cant remember having any fun time with my cousins. It’s like a curse. When you were younger, you like going out with your cousins. When you reach adulthood, you rather be dead than be seen hanging out with your cousins. I might be the only one having this tragedy, as my friends do mention having a nice time with their cousins.

Why this is happening to me? Am I slowly crossing to the evil side? Why cant I have a decent relationship with my cousins? It’s been bugging me ever since. Jealousy. Is that it? I never thought anything envious about my cousins. I always treat them as my own sibling.  Its been almost 3 years since I’ve seen face-to-face with some of my cousins. One of them is getting married within the next 1-2 months. Im having second thoughts whether to attend it or just let Mama and Papa attend the wedding ceremony. Adding soreness to the already bleeding wound is that Im stuck in Padang is another unavoidable fact. How I wish that I could turn back time and mend those precious moments I had with my cousins.

Whenever I view my cousin’s profile in Facebook or Friendster, I always look them as a third person, not as my own blood. I feel alienated, having a sense of detachment and not wanting to be directly associated with them. The feeling is so strong that I rather be surrounded by friends and continue life as it comes. I might be turning into a heartless person that don’t appreciate blood ties and sentiments. Guess its that way. I am special the way I am. As long as I do my duties properly, be a good Samaritan and help those in need,  I need not to care about my Karma.

Indians are always reputed having long winding list of relatives. However, our family has only few relatives, most of them not identified as relatives and fall into the categories of neighbours and family friends. It’s quite remarkable that some Indian families that stay in the same housing areas with us do have some distant relations with us. After several times of confirmation with the older generation, it is indeed that we are related. Surprisingly, our family never crossed the boundaries and retain the neighbour title.

Blood ties…Relatives…Cousins…Nephew…Niece…No matter what title they have…just maintain the distance, in order not to have a shattered feelings. Its not an order though, its more like a friendly request

48 hours of explosion

It has been a long time since I flew back home for Chinese New Year. Wait! This is the first time I came back for CNY celebrations!!!! Previous years were spent in Padang, as boring as ever. After my final paper (Neurology), I managed to shop for last minute, fragrances and authentic Indonesian kitchen utensils for my sister and mother. Literally running back to my room, I shaved and ironed my black shirt. The taxi was about to arrive in 1/2 hours time. The taxi arrived and fetched my juniors and my coursemate and I to Minang International Airport.

We just came to know that the evening flight to KL had been postponed for an hour. I could only swear in my heart. However, I couldnt think of anything else but going back home. The plane did arrive eventually, and it took almost an hour to reach LCCT. I had a weird feeling upon embarking the plane. My hands started shivering and my visions began to deteriorate. I knew that I forgotten to eat. I quickly requested a cup of glucose concoction from the flight attendant. She happily gave it to me, and she said its complimentary. I told her that my exams just finished and I had no time to have a quick snack.  After getting down from the plane, I saw the newly refurbished LCCT. It has the ‘new building’ smell. I ran to the ATM machine and withdrew RM 150. I went to the duty-free shop and purchased a Canadian Whiskey and Rum for my cousin.

My neighbour was waiting at the arrival. We reached home almost 7pm and I’m finally home. I’ve managed to smuggle in the liquor bottles without my mothers knowledge. That took me a flash of time. I have already pre-planned a get together with my college mates and since my flight was delayed, I had to change the plans, last minute. The following day was Chinese New Year eve, today’s the day that are most important.The Chinese will have their Chinese New Year Eve Reunion Dinner, an event not missed by any Chinese worldwide.

I woke up very early, around 5a.m. and did my early morning prayers. Mom was astonished with my early morning prayers, to the fact that I normally wake up earliest by 9a.m. Later after a glass of water, I drove to Rasah Amman temple. The divine atmosphere of the temple calmed me down, after 2 weeks of restless exams. I drove back home and was about to park in front my house, when I saw my next-door lady sweeping her lawn and pushing the leaves into our lawn.

Mom saw it from inside and started to ask her regarding it. She said something rude and made mom blasted. The neem tree in front of our house was the cause of this turmoil. It is understood that Indians love planting this particular tree in front of their house, as it is believed that this tree is sacred and it wards away evil spirits and it’s considered an auspicious plant in Hinduism. No Hindu would dare to even spit under this tree.

What beats me was, my neighbors are Hindus as well. I wonder why they are so irritated with the tree. We realized that our next door had a secret alliance with a Thai witchcraft practitioner and demanded that our family to shatter into pieces. It is the tree that has been protecting us all these while. Mom was furious and confused. We hardly ever did anything that might hurt their feelings.

After a rush of many ‘dramas’, I left to my friends’ house and went to Jusco to purchase some things. There, I came across my maternal uncle and his kids. It was so much of events in just 2 days, my head was about to explode. I greeted him, his wife and his kids. However, I maintained my distance with them. I cant afford anyone to take me for granted anymore. With quite an arrogant attitude, I left them clueless.

With that encounter, my friend and I decided to watch a movie, Inkheart. It was nice. Later, I dropped him home and came back, only to realize that he wanted to hang out with me at a local pub. I wondered how am I going to explain it to mom, but somehow mom doesn’t seem to care anymore. We ended up at Trilogy, a pub located at Era Walk. We only paid for the beers, RM 92, all 8 bottles in total. I somehow find the smoke-filled room too demanding, so I decided to come out to breath fresh air. I found someone quite a familiar face, whom I’ve lost contact for almost 9 years. It happened to be Kay Wei Sheuoung, a close friend of mine, of whom I shared many similarities during primary and secondary school.

It was more a surprised encounter, I should say, rather than a melodramatic ones I would see among Indians. I asked him whether he’s the person. He looked shocked and shook hands with me. Next to him was a girl, his steady partner, whom he met at his workplace. We rekindled our memories ina very fast pace, as I have to return inside and not to keep my other friend waiting. We exchanged contacts. I returned inside, only to discover that we were the only Indians among a crowd of Chinese guys and girls.

After a few bottles of beer, I began to feel light and started to move in sync with the tunes of the pub. The next thing I know was we were dancing our heart out. I felt liberated after 4 months of agony in Padang, unable to release my tension. The dance floor was coming to an end when I saw a bunch of Chinese girls dancing next to us. I quickly told the DJ to spin any song of Britney Spears. To my amazement, the DJ spinned Womanizer. I took no further a due to start my Britney dance moves and challenged one of the girls to compete with me.

The dance floor was unimaginable. It was almost 2a.m. when we came out of Trilogy. My friend drooped me, and I was a bit tipsy, though the effect was slowly wearing off. Luckily, Papa opened the door, and I quietly tiptoed into my room and ended the day.

What a day!!!! The rush started from Saturday and ended on Sunday nite, or should I say early morning of Monday. All the encounters, dramas, thrills, dancing, freak outs, are all done within 48 hours. Phewww!!!!

Mary Poppins and Titanic

The new year came and went. Now, its back to normal life again. Its the end of the semester and the first exam was Internal Medicine. Getting to memorize all the diseases of human can be somewhat depressing and difficult and I had to burn the midnight oil. I had to study soo much in a short time period. Exams can be stressing. I’ve never been so down and had to rely on spiritual songs just to get me going.

After the first week of exams, my friends and I decided to watch some nice movies. So, I downloaded a classic Disney movie, Mary Poppins. After the paper, I saved the movie in my thumbdrive and inserted it in the USB portal on the DVD player and watched the movie gleefully. All my childhood memories came running in no time. I still remembered how I longed for the long semester breaks where I would watch all Cartoons and Disney movies in Alam Ria Disney aired on TV3, and the fact that I would wake up early in the mornings and start watching cartoons from 8am. Sigh…..those were the times. I had no worries, no stress and definitely no hard times on memorising facts for my exams.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!! That’s what you say when you got nothing to say, acoording to Mary Poppins. Try telling that to the Minang people. Bet they wont have a clue what I’m mumbling. I dozed off after the movie and woke up in the evening. I had my dinner and wanted to watch another movie just for the sake of it. On the HBO channel, Titanic aired around 9pm. I watched the movie since I havent had any peaceful time watching it at home. The movie was so touchy, I had tears rolling off my eyes and I couldnt keep my emotions on balance. The next thing I know, Im crying really hard and had to use my hands to jerk off  the tears that roll effortlessly from my eyes. My housemate, Amli saw me crying and started to make fun of me. I had no choice but to just ignore him and cease crying that instant.

I realized that beneath this ‘rugged’ physique lies a soft personality that cries over tear jerker movies like Titanic and Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham….haha

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