Hiranprashanth’s Blog

Sky Is So High[Chapter 6]

Posted in Sky Is So High by hiranprashanth on June 26, 2009

First day in my new school. A summer vacation of  two months can change any normal person INSIDE OUT. Getting up at seven in the morning was next to impossible for me. I was still in my bed and had no intention whatsoever to wake up at seven and that’s when I heard my mother’s voice from the kitchen

“Wake up Ramya. You have school today. Your holidays are over. You are not a baby anymore. When I was in your age, I…”, started my mother.

I didn’t want to know what my mother did at 7 A.M twenty four years ago. I would rather sacrifice my Sweet sleep than to hear my mother’s story.

“I will drop you in school when I go to office”, said my mother as she entered the room.

“You are still sleeping???”, screamed my mother and dragged me to the bathroom. Five minutes was all the time needed for my mother to brush, bathe and dress me up. I was all dressed up for the big occasion.

I didn’t know what to expect from my new school. But as far as my old school was concerned, they really gave me what I expected, whippings, whippings and more whippings. There were no desks for writings and we had to sit on floor. It was a back breaking task to write without desks and we had only one teacher for all the classes. Only one teacher is all it takes to take the hell out of you. I was her most favourite punch bag.

“Shall we go Ramya?”, asked my mother.

“Amma, can we go to school tomorrow? I have stomach ache”, I said without batting my eyes

“Stop your acting and come with me now. I don’t want to hit you on your first day”, warned my mother.

I had no other choice. My school was only a stone’s throw from my home. Mine was not a very big school. It had only one building with two floors. The play ground was almost a zilch. I had nothing to boast of my new school expect for its name, BOSTON MATRICULATION Higher Secondary School.

I was wearing a blue checked shirt with a blue pinafore. My hair was plaited into two and thanks to my hair thickness, the plaits looked like a pig tail. I still can smell the fresh paint. My mother held my hands and led me to the smallest class in the school, II STD.

A tall lady was standing in front of my class and was greeting all the students with a huge smile. My mother stopped half way seeing the tall lady. She dropped all her smiles and sported a grim face on seeing me and started walking towards me.

Her walk was majestic, to say the least. She walked as if she was floating in air. One thing that puzzled me was her dress. She was weraing a frock!!! I have never seen a lady of her age to wear a frock.

“Hello. I am Rita Taylors. I am the class teacher for II standard.”, my class teacher introduced herself to my mother.

“Oh. Hello Madam. I actually wanted to talk to you about my….”, said my mother before being cut short by my class teacher.

“Oh you can call me Mrs. Taylors. No MADAM please. And we can talk about this young lady after she meets her friends”, said Mrs. Taylors in a deep British accent looking directly at me.

My eyes welled up seeing her looks. Mrs. Taylors was an Anglo-Indian. Her most prominent feature was her Roman nose. I cannot help noticing the abnormally large nose she had. The wrinkles on her face revealed her age. I thought she would belong to the same age group as of my grand mother’s. She had a very short hair which never touched her shoulders but her hair was unusually black. Her dark pink frock with bright sun flowers all over it made her look comical.

“Oh… Don’t cry my child. You will love this place. Come lets meet your friends”, said Mrs. Taylors as she hugged me.

No teacher has ever touched me, except for a slap. Her unexpected hug relieved all my fears. She lifted me and took me to the class.

“You sit with Anitha and I will be back in a minute. Big girl like should not cry”, said Mrs. Taylors and left the class to meet my mother.

Suddenly I felt good about this school and about myself. All my tears vanished and was looking forward for the classes and all of a sudden Mrs. Taylors floated into our class.

“Good Morning children”, said Mrs. Taylors

“Good Morning Miss”, came the reply

“Shall we all start this great year a little different?”, asked Mrs. Taylors

“Yes Miss”, came the chores

“Lets have a Dictation test”, announced Mrs. Taylors happily.

As she broke the news, there was smiles all around the class. This was not I expected. A Dictation test on the first day??? I never understood why the others were so excited about a Dictation test. Are they the Great Great grand children of Shakespeares and Keates???

Before the feeling could sink in, Mrs. Taylors said, “Take down a sheet of paper and write down your….”, she continued as my smiles faded and my eyes welled up again…

To Be Cont…

Sky Is So High[Chapter 5]

Posted in Sky Is So High by hiranprashanth on May 27, 2009

So, it was finally time for some schooling. After a surprisingly agonising wait for two months and humiliation in the hands of Renuka’s friends, it was school finally. I accepted Renuka’s invitation to play with her and with her “So called” friends. If given a choice, I would rather be happy spending my whole of my life with my grandparents and Doordharshan and do nothing than to play with Renuka’s friends.

After my initial reluctance, I was all excited to play with Renuka. True to her words, Renuka came to my home at 4 P.M sharp and took me to her home. Renuka’s home was a carbon copy of our home except for the garden which looked a morsel small compared to ours. Our garden had a mixed variety of plants whereas Renuka’s had  flowers, flowers and only flowers which made the place heavenly.

Kajal, Sandya and Tinu, Renuka’s three best friends, had already started their game and were not very eager to meet me. Half of my excitement ran out at the very first sight of them. Kajal and Sandya were wearing a jean and sleeveless tops. Tinu was in her skirt and a bright red T-shirt. Renuka was still wearing the white frock which made her look like an angel. As for me, I was wearing the most wrinkled frock I had and it looked like a stone-washed blue frock. I stood there cursing my mother for not getting me a jean and my grandmother who didn’t allow me to wear the best frock I had for that dreadful day.

I could sense their disappointment with my looks and came reluctantly toward me. As they moved closer to me, I heard them talk  in English, which made me to lose the rest of my excitement for I had never spoke English. “Its going to be a memorable evening”, I thought and my fears came true when Kajal started to talk to me in English.

“Hi. I am Kajal”, she introduced herself.

I managed a slight smile. Kajal after waiting for my reply, started to talk again.

“She is Sandya and she is Tinu”, said Kajal pointing to Sandya and Tinu for which Sandya and Tinu gave away a wary smile. From the wasy Kajal introduced the other girls, I understood that Kajal was the gang leader.

“What games you play?”. enquired Kajal in English and for which I merely nodded.

“We play a lot of games. Do you know  how to play ‘Home’?”, asked Kajal pointing to her costly “Playskool” board game.

“Me, Sandya and Tinu played it all day long when we were in Ooty for vacation with our families. Isn’t Sandya?”, said Kajal in English.

English was getting too much for me. I only understood the words Ooty and vacation and secretly hoped Sandya would not answer Kajal. But that was not my day and Sandya became all excited when Kajal mentioned Ooty and nodded her earnestly.

“Have you been to Ooty?”, asked Sandya in English. I wondered how that would go. I finally decided to break the ice.

“I have never been Ooty”, I said in Tamil after guessing her question. I could sense their disappointment when I spoke in Tamil.

“Why are you talking in T-a-a-mil?”, frowned Kajal. They looked at as if I was a witch who had spelled an unforgiving curse.

“Leave her alone, Kajal”, Renuka came to my rescue seeing my eyes getting misty.

Kajal ignored Renuka and continued to taunt me. “Which school are you from”, enquired kajal.

“Sitapore Matriculation school”, I mumbled

” Sitaporeeee?”, said Kajal and broke out a distinct laughter which was duly joined by Tinu and Sandya.

I didn’t understand what was wrong with the name  “Sitapore” and looked quizzically at Renuka.

“They are from Chettinad Vidhyashram”, said Renuka

I understood the actual meaning of Renuka’s words only a few days later when I came to know about Chettinad Vidhyashram. It was a school for the privileged. All students from Chettinad Vidhyashram spoke only in English, whereas, my English teacher in Sitapore spoke only in Tamil.

Renuka seeing this gave me a sorry sight and I could take it no longer. I ran home crying and locked myself in the room and cried for a whole hour. The thought of school made the whole situation more gloomy. Though I was waiting to return back to school, the ghosts of my past haunted me.

The thought of not having a summer vacation for the next one year, tests, exams, ranks, maths, teachers with wooden scale made me feel blue. But there was no escape. I had to go school the next morning.

To Be Cont…

Sky Is So High[Chapter 4]

Posted in Sky Is So High by hiranprashanth on May 14, 2009

I still remember the day I met Renuka, who later turned out to be my best friend. I would even trust my life with Renuka. It was 9 in the morning and I was still rolling in the bed then. Father usually leaves home early for work. I never will understand my father’s obsession with punctuality and as for me , I was never punctual. My mother , after all her kitchen stunts, too had left for work. So the day was left for me and for my grand parents to kill.

While I was busy wondering how draggy the previous was and how deadening the present day was going to be, I heard a girl’s voice coming from the living room. The voice was angelic. Though I was too lazy to get off the bed, my curiosity got the better of me. I was keen in meeting the person to whom the angelic voice belonged. I jumped off the bed and hurried to the living room.

My instincts didn’t let me down. True to my perception, I saw an angel in a white frock. She had a long hair which was as straight as Trichy-Chennai National Highway and there was never a coil in that hair. She had eyes which was as if God Himself had taken a day’s off from His work and drew them with His own hands. She had a broad fore head and had a, I wouldn’t call it fair, I would rather call it a rosy complexion. She had a very thin lips which would make a pink rose feel colorless.

So, there I was, standing with my wrinkled night dress and messy hair, in front of a girl who looked no less than an angel. My initial admiration of her beauty all vanished at the stoke of a finger when jealously took over me. I just wanted to run out of that room and save myself from the “”Self Inflicted” embarrassment. When I was about to do that, my grand mother started her usual granny talk.

“Hey Ramya, look who is here. She is Renuka. She lives next door. No.28 right Renuka?”, she said.

she nodded obediently

What? Renuka? I never expected her name to be Renuka. Though everything I guessed about her was correct, I went wrong in her name part. I thought her name would be some Priya or Payal or Deepika but never Renuka, a typical Tamil name for a girl who looked like a north Indian.

“Hi”, said Renuka for which I never answered.

“She is also in the same school Ramya. Which standard are you in Renuka?”, enquired my grand mother.

“Second standard Patti”, she replied.

“Oh”, was my reply.

“Very good. Our Ramya  is also in second standard. What rank you get Renuka?”

“Oh no…the ranks….”, I thought. My grand mother had dropped the rank bomb yet again.

“Always first”, she said with a pride which would make a lion feel humble.

“Very Very good. Will you please help our Ramya with her studies because she is not very good at it”, said my grand mother.

My  grand mother’s “very” was increasing which was a bad sign and if Renuka had told one more good thing about herself, my grand mother would have hurled me out and would have been me more than happy to adopt Renuka as her grand child.

Renuka on hearingmy grand mother’s comments, gave me a look which made to shrink in shame. My ego had hit rock bottom and I thought I had lost everything to a girl whom I had just met, even before the battle had begun.

“Sure Patti, I will help her. Ok Patti I have to go home, I will leave then.”, told Renuka to my grand mother.

“Me and friends will play today, you want to come?”, she asked.

I wanted to scream a big no but I didn’t know what came out of me and I said, “YES”.

To Be Cont…

Sky Is So High[Chapter 3]

Posted in Sky Is So High by hiranprashanth on May 5, 2009

Two weeks had already passed since I moved to my new home. The initial excitement of being in a new home with garden, mango tree, coconut trees  had all worn out. Nothing great was happening around. I hadn’t met a single person of my age and often wondered whether there was any people living around, though my mother reminded me time and again that our neighbors were off for summer vacation and assured that I would have lot of friends.

Alwarpet to me was a very ambiguous region. On one side of it was T.Nagar (Thyagaraya Nagar), the shopping hub of Madras, where one can find the whole population of the city during festive season. On other side of it was Gemini, the place named after the famous Gemini Studios. It still confuses me as to why invariably all the movie directors zoom on to Gemini fly over to show that their hero/heroine has landed in Madras. So Alwarpet was technically at the center of all activities but never hogged the spot light.

Alwarpet was basically a rich man’s land. One can carve up Alwarpet into three sections. First, “Higher Alwarpet”, the Boat Club Road, where people with Mercs, BMWs, Ferraris live. Second, “Middle Alwarpet”, where people with Ikons, Honda Citys live. Third, “Lower Alwarpet”, not the place for people with Ambassadors or scooters rather a place for people with cycles or no cycles at all. “Higher Alwarpet” was for Big Shot politicians whereas the “Lower Alwarpet” was for the people who vote for them.

So we lived in “Middle Alwarpet” with no Ikons or Citys but with a false pride of living among the rich.  One good thing about the place was the big Municpal park which was just behind my home. Getting up very late in the morning, helping my grand father with his gardening, sleeping, watching the boys play cricket in the park, a walk around the park with my grand mother and sleep again was all I did in a day. we didn’t even have T.V. I mean, we had one but without a cable connection. A T.V with only DoorDarshan in it is as good as NO-T.V.

My vacation was fast approaching its end and it was time for some schooling again. I never had my share of luck with school nor with my studies. Imagine getting a rank of 31 out of a total strength 30, yes it was me. Math was not my cup of tea, neither was English, neither was Tamil nor were my studies. My mother tried all methods known to man kind to make me study but all in vain. I couldn’t even write my name then, though the mistake was only partly mine. How can one expect a seven year old to write such a long name,  Remya Ragunathan with Ramya spelt differently.

I still don’t understand why my parents named me Remya. They call me R-A-M-Y-A and named me R-E-M-Y-A. May be its the numerology which played the trick. Even if I write my name correctly as R-E-M-Y-A, I invariably got slashings from my teachers who believed that my name was   R-A-M-Y-A and that I had written my name wrong yet again! But for the first time in my life, I was waiting to go back to school to escape the dull summer vacation.

To Be Cont…

Sky Is So High[Chapter 2]

Posted in Sky Is So High by hiranprashanth on May 4, 2009

A well deserved sleep to end an eventual day. A sleep to ease all pain. A sleep to ease all insults. A sleep to blank out the frightful present and to call back the amazing past. That was one of those sleeps that you definitely know that your sleeping.

I ached to get back to my childhood days. I still remember the day I set foot in Madras. I prefer calling it Madras rather than Chennai. There are two reasons for it. One, somehow I love the name Madras and two, I strongly feel that calling a city by a different name doesn’t increase your nationalism. I mean, if you wanted to show your nationalism you should have changed the name the day the Britishers left our land and not fifty years later. So it stays Madras to me.

My father, Ragunathan, got a transfer from Trichy and we landed in Madras. I was glad to leave Trichy as I found nothing exciting about the place though my grandparents were not happy about leaving, what they called a divine place.

That was the first time I was travelling out of Trichy and my first train journey too. Our train, Rock Fort Express, finally crawled to Egmore Railway Station and I was happy to end what seemed like a never ending journey.

It was love at the first sight. I was in love with Madras the moment I saw it. I felt that Egmore Station had more population than the whole of Trichy. There were people all around. I buckled myself to my father. A commotion of people fought for the exists.

All of a sudden, we were flocked by men wearing red shirts, whom I later found out from my father that they were porters. After a long duel with one of the plain faced porters, my father finally surrendered and decided to carry the luggages ourselves.

Being a seven year old girl, I didnt have to worry about the luggages. My grandparents were mumbling about the new city and even complained about how cluttered the dust bins were. As for me, I had no complaints and was pleased with new city which was buzzing with activities.We finally managed to reach the the auto stand and hired one to our new home.

The auto driver led us to a place called Alwarpet. He stoppped infront of what seemed like a palace to me. At the beginning, I thought he stopped at the wrong place until my father opened its gate. I still can feel the joy that erupted when my mother announced that it was our new home. My eyes widened. I stood there speechless holding my Barbie.

I had never lived in such a big and beautiful place. The place where we stayed at Trichy didn’t even have a seperate toilet. we had to share it with six other families and some families even had twelve members. Even Emperor Napoleon would have lost the battle with us in capturing the toilet seat on a busy working day.

Our new home smelt and looked divine. It had a garden with large variety of flowers, many of which I had not seen till that day. It had tall coconut tress and a mango tree, which according to my grand father was rare of the rarest. The car shed made me feel rich. Though we didn’t own a car, the very look of it made  me royal, afterall one’s status in the society gets elevated once he owns a car no matter how old it is and even if it was from Hyder Ali’s period.

My grand parents mumbling eased up a bit and I was happy to see my mother’s broad smile. I ran around the whole place feeling the fresh air and loving the world for the first time!

To Be Cont…

Sky Is So High [Chapter 1]

Posted in Sky Is So High by hiranprashanth on May 2, 2009

“Speak up. Talk something. You are wasting my time and your time. Speak up”, told Inspector Rajeshwari.

I was lying there half naked and half concious. I have never been to a Police Station before and never wanted to. I dreaded the word Police and now here I am lying half naked infront of half a bunch of hefty Poilce women in Teynampet All Women Police Station.

I could not find my saree and my blouse was torn revealing my bra. My legs have become numb and I could no longer feel the Lathi landing on my legs.

I was secretly hoping for some miracle that would take my suffering soul out of this world. I could no more hear the voices of those Police women. I had a feeling that I would die any moment. I could no longer take it and wanted to scream my heart out.

“She is not going to tell the truth madam”, said the short constable to Inspector Rajeshwari. “Get the ice in to her ass. Everthing will come out along with the truth”

“This can’t get any worse”, I thought. I have heard many stories of Police torchers but never have I once thought that I would be the one in the receving end.

“Please kill me. I can take it no more. I know nothing of it. Kill me”, I cried to Inspector Rajeshwari.

Ispector Rajeshwari was a fat woman. She looked exactly the same as the rakshashis in old Vitalacharia’s movies. She was not wearing her uniform and was in a dark blue saree. Her dark expressionless face , her dark blue saree which was in total contrast to her skin color along with the dim yellow bulb made the scene more horrifying.

Inspector Rajeshwari joimed the Police force as a constable and in a short span of time grew to the rank of an officer. She was incharge for the Teynampet All Women Police Station. One of my cell inmate told me that she even killed an accused few months back and that the case was closed as a suicide.

“Talk”, she told me in a husky voice. For a woman of her size, she had a peculiarly soft voice. She looked straight in to my eyes and her look was piercing.

“Don’t worry, we will not harm you. You speak the truth and I will leave you. Your children must be waiting for you”, she said.

The words suddenly struck me as a lighting. I have not seen my children for two days. Being a house wife or what they call these days, a home maker, I have not left them even once.

My son Raghu and my daughter Raghavi were my world. I loved them more than anything else in this world.  Their face came to my mind.  Their lovely smile, innocent mischiefs made me to cry even harder.

“Okay. I leave you now. But tell me the truth, the first thing in the morning. You understand?”, told Inspector Rajeshwari.

“Give her some food”, she ordered the short constable and left the room.

“Ok madam”, replied the short constable.

I didnt even have the strength to hold the plate given to me by the short constable. I layed there crying thinking of my family and my life. I layed there thinking about my beautiful, care free childhood days. I fell asleep as I was thinking about my childhood days. A well deserved sleep to end the eventual day. I hoped I sleep forever and not to see another day….

To Be Cont…..