The Quickly Room

http://adamsisco.com/?mikity=rencontres-rh&472=c1 The bathroom was a thatched room close to the well. There was no Electricity. Nor was there any Plumbing. Water was carried in buckets, to fill the stone tub that was built in a corner of the bathroom. The Sibling boys bathed near the well in their shorts, drawing water from the well.

Tastylia Online Without Prescription/ The Sibling girls used the privacy of the bathroom, as they crossed Puberty and went from Girl child to Adolescent. There were no disposable sanitary napkins or tampons. Old clothes, were torn up and used as napkins. These napkins were washed, hung out to dry and reused. Stoic operations, such as these, were coded secret and carried out in the still of the night.

soltero a los 40 capitulos The red letter days of a girls calendar were vexatious and awkward.

go to site The lavatory was a thatched spot in the fields, that filled up and migrated with time. To avoid surprises, it was recommended, that one sang at the top of one’s voice, to warn the world, that the toilet was occupied. If you dropped a note or octave, mid performance, it was allowed, but sing you had to, for privacy. Singing, however, would not scare the snakes and scorpions, that shared the toilets and on several occasions, the vicious scorpion would rear its ugly head, to stamp its disapproval on some unsuspecting foot.

recherche site de rencontre gratuit et serieux This was not a room you lingered in. Not a room to read the newspaper. Not a room  to browse through a favourite glossy magazine. You entered Quickly. You sang loudly and Quickly. You did your business Quickly and you left Quickly , hoping that nobody saw you enter or leave.

http://theftzapperfence.com/?makisf=conocer-hombre-piscis&6a9=41 Definitely a Quickly Room.

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The sleepwalking sibling

http://ramblingroseboutique.com/?prertwe=quick-lunch-dating&706=54 Only my grandfather slept on a bed. Everyone else slept on the floor on a mat.

http://melroth.com/?komp=strategia-opzioni-binarie-1-ora&fd2=d8 strategia opzioni binarie 1 ora After evening prayers by candle light, the main hall of the house saw mats spread out on the floor, converting it into a sleeping area, resembling an Indian railway station platform. The sisters slept on one side, the brothers on the other and the babies rolled from one to the other. The older boys slept outside under the skies, grateful for the cool breeze that lulled them to sleep. The stories of the day’s escapades and the muffled giggles would eventually silence out to even breathing and an orchestra of snores.

click here One of the siblings was a somnambulist. He used to sleepwalk till he became a teenager, when he stopped on his own. This was scary because some nights,  he would head towards the open well at the end of the compound. Not every night but occasionally, when no one was watching. He used to sit up and stretch himself, scratch his head and back, mutter to himself, lie down and go back to sleep. This would repeat itself a couple of times and finally on sleepwalk days, he would get up and walk towards the door. For this reason a couple of the siblings slept across the doorway, so that they would be woken up when and if he tripped over them on his way out. Predictably, he had no recollection of his walkathon when questioned the next day. He thought they were pulling his leg.

http://adamsisco.com/?mikity=site-de-rencontre-avec-wordpress&b65=61 For a few hours, every night, there was no rush and no flurry as the homestead seemed to be asleep. Perhaps that was when my Velliappachan and my Velliammachy managed to catch a quiet moment alone .

 

Ours not to Question Why

Each family had a task force that worked for them in their fields

The labourers, who worked in the field, were paid four chakarams as daily wages. The chakaram was a brass coin, with a hole in the center and 28 of them made up a rupee. Many families gave them grain with the chakarams. This was more useful than the brass coin, as it kept hunger at bay instantly. You can’t eat brass when you are hungry.

In addition to their wages, they were given a noonday meal. They were not fed at the table, nor were they fed on plates. They were fed on the ground under the shade of a tree. A shallow hole would be shaped in the mud in front of the human being, sitting cross legged on the ground. A freshly cut banana leaf would be placed over the depression in the ground and the hot rice porridge would be served on it. With the heat of the Kanji or porridge, the banana leaf would wilt, moulding itself to the shape of the depression in the ground and hold the gooey rice Kanji, without a dribble. In his hand, the labourer would have a makeshift spoon made of jack fruit tree leaves, pinned together with a small twig. This would spoon the Kanji on the ground, into the mouth of the human being, doing rigorous hours of work, under a scorching sun.

My grandfather did not feed from banana leaves placed on Mother Earth. They ate out of banana leaves in his house, sitting cross legged on the floor of the Verandah outside the Kitchen. He made sure that the children of the labourers, who worked on his fields, studied alongside his own children at home and in the school, if they were inclined to do so. Many, were diffident about sending their children to school as they, like the landed gentry, did not know the word Equality. Nor would they have recognized it if they had met EQUALITY, in capital letters, on the way.

There was insurmountable opposition to the Labourers worshiping on the same hallowed holy ground and partaking of the holy sacrament, at their altar in their Church . The Gentry who sat in the wooden pews, were convinced that Jesus Christ, the Saviour, who hung bleeding on the cross at the Altar, had died exclusively for them. Certainly not for the untouchable labourers who brought in the grain. The Commandment “Love your neighbour as yourself” did not include the Task Force who worked for them.

My Grandfather, deeply troubled by the discrimination and caste system that seemed to dominate the Indian church of his time, spoke out against it whenever he could. Especially in his sermons as a lay preacher. Responding to a need, he built the first church for the Untouchable Labourers. The Church building was just a mud floor with wooden poles and a thatched roof. The humble beginnings of the St. Paul’s CMS Church in the fields of Kuthiravattom in Kodukulanji , did not deter the praise and worship that rose every Sunday, to reach the skies. The Labour stood on their own Turf, worshiping their Maker and thanking Him with grateful hearts for all that Life dished up.

Ebony coloured and sinewy, they flaunted their six packs, flat as washboards, from working long and hard under the relentless sun. The only clothing that they sported was a lungi knotted at the waist to cover the essentials. The women wore tight fitting blouses with a lungi. If they were lucky, they had a skimpy towel to cover their uppers. Despite the discrimination meted out, they stood tall and proud, stiffened with a subtle aura of dignity. Unshod, they shamed humanity as they shuffled apologetically at the periphery, covering their mouths as they spoke, with eyes cast down, never daring to meet the gaze of the person talking to them.No one asked if they had any aspirations or ambitions. Both sides would have been surprised if they had had any. Three meals a day was all that they had on their bleak agenda. It hardly mattered that one of them was precariously spooned off a muddy floor.

Generations of suppression had left them primed to the Call of the Communists, when it hit Kerala. The Gentry woke up one day, to the sound of revolt at their doorstep. The Task Force, the Gentry took for granted, shook off years of oppression, laid down their sickles and marched out of their lives . Shouting “Inquilab “, the Untouchables trampled all over the green rice fields they had planted ever so carefully, without a second glance. Suddenly the Task Force, the human hand-me-downs for generations, were no longer at their beck and call.

The Task Force had a red flag, a voice and a vote.

My Grandmother’s Meen Chatti

Sea fish, in all the rainbow colours, swam up from the coastline to be caught in nets, large and small, placed the night before. These were hauled up and auctioned by boisterous vendors who would ply baskets overflowing with sardine, whitebait and anchovies at the roadside bazaars. Fresh water fish, like the Oscar and the Catfish, were delicacies caught in ponds and canals.

One of the older siblings would walk to the bazaar to buy a heap of fish. As the morning temperatures rose, the prices dipped. The fish were not as fresh as the morning catch but they would be perhaps a tad cheaper. Well spiced and cooked with coconut, mango and the sour cocum, the tired fish would come alive as a delicious curry for lunch.

The Red Fish curry with Coccum was a must at Weddings. It looked good, tasted good and could be made weeks ahead, in large quantities and stored without any fear of the curry going bad, even in Summer. There were no caterers or event managers and the food served at the wedding banquets, was made by the ladies in the family. My grandmother would be invited to supervise, as her culinary skills was legendary. My Mum modified my grandmother’s recipes, to suit  smaller families and I took them all over the world with me.

                                                           Red Fish Curry

1 kg fish, 1cup shallots sliced, 1whole head of garlic, 1″ fresh ginger, slivered , 6 green chillies slit, 2 heaped Tbsp Chilli Powder, 1 tsp Coriander Powder,  1/2 tsp Jeera Powder, 6 coccums, Curry leaves, stems included, 3 Tbsps Coconut oil, 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tsp Roasted Fenugreek Powder.

Place everything, except the fish in the pot. Add 1 cup of water to cover everything. Slow cook. Add the fish and continue slow cooking. DO NOT STIR the curry after adding the fish.  Once cooked, add 3 tsp of coconut oil and sprinkle fresh roasted fenugreek powder and garnish with green curry leaves.

Or, heat the coconut oil separately and season with sliced shallots, Mustard seeds and Fenugreek seeds. Pour the hot oil over the curry.

This curry tastes best when cooked in a traditional Meen Chatti, or earthenware pot over a wooden fire to enhance its smoky flavour.  Kashmiri Chilli Powder adds colour without adding spice. In another hot favourite , the fish curry would be served with tapioca, either boiled or mashed up and tempered with mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves.

Sometimes the fish would be cooked with a tart unripe mango. Sometimes the fish would be cooked with the green Bilimbi fruit taking finger licking good a new dimension. Sometimes the fish would be cooked in Coconut milk.

Either which way , Cuppa and Meen is heaven on earth.

With so many at the table, no part of the fish would be thrown. The fish head and mango curry, made in a well cured, earthenware pot, was a particular favourite that the siblings would fight and scramble over, much to our amusement. This is a loud Curry that is definitely not for the Fainthearted or Dainty. It has to be eaten by hand, and the fish bones and head have to be sucked in an indecent manner and chewed loudly upon.

A curry to slurp over. Certainly not one that appears in sophisticated menus, at restaurants.

 

A little fed a lot

Meal times at the homestead were unmitigated miracles, when a little seemed to feed a lot. With every passing Xmas, the culinary skills of the kitchen task force graduated to imaginative heights, as food appeared on the table in the verandah outside the kitchen, every day without fail.

Thrift was the buzzword and nothing that reached the mise-en-place table was ever wasted and no one went completely hungry. Vegetables were cut fine, to shorten cooking time and fuel. Vegetables were not cut on the cutting board but on the left index finger, with the knife held in the right hand. It was a skill acquired over time. With practice and if executed efficiently, there were no accidents, amputations, blood or gore.

Dumplings, made from flour, were a smart way of stretching the meal. Bobbing up and down in the coconut gravy, they mopped up the flavours of the curry, to wash down the red unpolished rice from the fields. Yet the Siblings, as they came to be known, would drool in gay abandon, when they recounted with nostalgia, the scrumptious meals made with a bit of this, a bit of that and a lot of love. The flavours heightened, imperceptibly, every time the stories were told and retold. Nothing they ever ate, in all the corners of the world, that they later spread to and inhabited, were a patch on the curries they grew up on. The curries cooked in clay pots, served out on the veranda of Cadavanaltharayil, the homestead under the banyan tree, near the canal.

The Siblings were encouraged to enjoy different parts of the chicken and fish anatomy, delicacies they fell upon with relish, accepting the adage,

“If you don’t get what you like,
“You had better like what you get! “

The best serving pieces were reserved for my grandfather, when he was at home. If my grandmother was not watching his plate, he would manage to share it with some of the younger ones who hovered around him.

My Mum, was lucky if she got to see the Bishops nose of the chicken, on any good day. She could never pass up the Bishop’s nose of the chicken, in the latter years of plenty. She was delighted when she met it again, in rather exotic circumstances, at the Malaysian road side food stalls, in the Pasar Malam, the night markets . Sold as a delicacy, known as Ayam Paggang , the Bishop’s nose, and all the other discards of the chicken, are flattened out with a food mallet and grilled on skewers, over live charcoal and dusted with mouth-tickling, aromatic herbs.

As far as she was concerned, no other part ever tasted quite as good as the humble coccyx of the chicken.

 

Shrek One and Shrek Two

The third handicap, I associate with My Only Child Syndrome, was my lack of swimming skills, when I was an adult.

Like a bolt out of the blue , it struck me , that I was wrong to think that I did not know Swimming. Of course , I  knew swimming. I was swimming in-utero before I walked. I just had to refresh what I knew. I convinced Sam, of my earth shattering discovery and got him to agree to come for swimming lessons with me.

Sam and I, both in our late 50s, enrolled at a summer swimming camp, in Chennai. These camps, are arranged primarily for school children, during the summer holidays. The average age of the child, at that particular camp, was nine, which made us, instantly prehistoric. We did not care. We were desperate, to learn swimming.

We ran the idea by our kids, Rekha and Anish, both Ace swimmers. I had insisted that they learned swimming and cycling early in life. They were extremely encouraging and cheered us on. Anish, a trained chef, explained it thus.

Mummy when you make soup, the fat floats on top….Right ?

So don’t worry…You will never drown

Reassured , we arrived at the pool, to see a bunch of exuberant kids, in swimsuits around a fierce looking, middle-aged gentleman, who was twirling a handle-bar moustache, that almost covered his face. We had just got a glimpse, of the most important man in our lives, for the next 8 weeks.  Our swimming instructor, “Saravanan Sir”.  We did a quick prayer and placed our lives, our lungs and our limbs in his hands.

We bought our swimsuits at the reception. We were not measured for size. The lady at the desk looked us up and down, decided our sizes, handed us our packets and directed us to the Changing rooms. My swimsuit was a deep purple spandex one-size-fits-all. I shook it out of the plastic cover and got the shock of my life. It looked like pair of leotards, that had a low waisted, ballerina’s, polka dotted tutu, stitched around the hips. Even if it did nothing else, it would cover me from my wrists to my knees.

An eternal optimist, I wiggled and wriggled and writhed into the spandex fabric. The push and shove of body parts, took almost half an hour.  Sam, in better shape than I was, had got into his swimming trunks, with a towel around his waist. He kept watching the door of the Ladies changing room, waiting for me to emerge. Confused, he wondered if I had beaten him to the pool.  After half an hour, he became a little anxious and sent the attender to check if I had passed out, or fled. Sheepishly, I emerged and walked gingerly to the pool with Sam following me, not daring to laugh.

I will kill you Sama, if you say one word ….I laughed, as I lowered myself into the water.

The frilly tutu bit, was of no use, to man or beast. It was definitely of no use to me. As soon as I got into the water , it floated up, like a cloth equator, perpendicular to my midriff, reducing me, a visibly relieved Sam and the curious spectators around the pool, to ripples of giggles.

A few minutes later , Anish came to see how we were doing. He laughed so much, he almost fell into the pool, when he saw his ageing parents, floundering like drowning ducks, among a bunch of noisy kids, splashing in the pool.

Good grief,  He exclaimed.

You  look like Shrek One and Shrek Two !! 

Sam and I persisted with the classes and we learned to swim quite well eventually. With time the Purple Spandex, became a whimsical memory and was traded for a practical swim dress, that did not float up like a tutu,  with a mind of its own.

I used to wonder, if my Mum and Dad, were watching with fear and trepidation, from above.

 

Driving

Sam and I, learned driving  when we were posted to the Schiefflein Leprosy Centre in Karigiri, as part of our training in The Leprosy Mission, shortly after we were married.

Karigiri was a little village off the main Vellore- Katpadi road, a motor-able distance away from CMC. Other than the Leprosy Hospital, there was not much else around. We were bored stiff in the evenings, after work. For  entertainment, we would sit on the steps of the International Guest House and watch the long road that led to the hospital , playing “Spot-the-car-on-the-road”. If we were lucky, the monotony of the empty road, would be broken, when the occasional shining headlights drove up in the evening.

Fortunately , we got a break. One of the Expat nurses, leaving on furlough, left her Jeep in the care of Dr. P.K. Oommen, a fellow alumnus ,who was posted to Karigiri at the same time that we were.

The open green jeep looked as if someone had shipped it to off Karigiri in the middle of production, because it had no top, no windshield and no windows to roll down. It was just a metal frame, that ran on wheels, a few inches off the ground, with seats and a steering wheel riveted in place.  I think it may have been a Marx Willy Jeep. I am not sure.

When PK heard, that we did not know driving, he very kindly offered to teach us driving, after work. PK (RIP), as he was called affectionately, was a sweet guy and extremely patient. Thanks to him, Sam and I did our driving tests in Vellore and got our driving licences before we left for Bhutan.

I never drove on the winding mountain roads in the Himalayas. When we went to the UK after our term in Bhutan, I decided to refresh my driving skills and enrolled for driving lessons. We were living in The Pilgrim Lodge, The Leprosy Mission House in Kew Gardens, on Ennerdale Road, one of the roads parallel to the Gardens .

The instructor, Mr. Davidson, an elderly Brit, used to drive up and we would get into his car with dual manuals , one for him and one for me. He was quite relaxed on the smaller less crowded roads. But when we tried my driving skills on the main arterial roads, he sat upright, watching the road.

You will drive me to drink, he would say, rolling his eyes upwards and clutching his heart.

Unfortunately the lessons, did not culminate in us buying a car at the end of the course.  We were too poor, as PG students, to put anything with four wheels on the road.

When we returned to Chennai , we had a red open Top, Toyota Gypsy, that I used to drive all over town. When my friend and Med School classmate, Roma moved to The Officers Training Academy in St Thomas Mount with her husband Clayton, we were living in the Defence Colony close by. We met almost every day as the Red Gypsy, used to turn into the OTA, even when there was no one at the wheel. We had a riot, painting the town red, for all the glorious years that Clayton was posted to Chennai.

Once,  when I went to drop her off at the OTA, after a shopping spree in town , we were laughing so much,  that I did not notice a ditch behind us. I reversed and found myself stuck in the mud, balancing precariously at the edge of the ditch, with the back wheels in the ditch.  I revved the engine , to get out of the ditch and found myself in deeper trouble, with the front wheels lifting off, before my very eyes. I giggled, as Roma became more and more angry.  She was terrified and at a greater disadvantage, as she had a bird’s eye view of how the fiasco could end.

Shut up , you fool….She growled, through gritted teeth.

Hanging on to the front bonnet with all her might, a deeply agitated Roma shouted out to the Jawans training close by,  to come and help. Trained in the Indian army to do more hazardous tasks, it was a piece of cake for them, to get into the ditch, steady the vehicle and lift it up , with me inside, to safety.

I did not need any petrol to reach home that day. Roma’s verbal abuse , the hall mark of a deep and comfortable friendship propelled the Gypsy home,

Later when our elder Grandson Ashish was born, I drove a Zen. I have had 2 road accidents with me driving and one when I was a passenger in the back seat, with the Driver driving .

When I had the first accident, Rekha was sitting next to me in the front seat. It was around 7.30 at night and we were going home to Defence Colony from Nungambakkam, on a dimly lit street. On the Kodambakkam High Road there is a statue of Ambedkar ,erected on an Island, in the middle of the road. Just after the statue, the road turns imperceptibly, to the left.

We were chatting and driving when suddenly, without a warning,  the car climbed the median , rose, what seemed like several feet, up in the air and landed with a loud bang on the Median.  Thankfully, we were wearing our seat belts and we did not shoot out of the windshield. My face, smashed into the steering wheel and the last thing I heard before I passed out, was Rekha crying …….Mummy, Mummy….my Mummy is dead.

When I came to, there was utter confusion and I had blood trickling down from an open wound on my forehead. I tried not to struggle, as kind pedestrians. prised open the jammed door on the driver’s side to get me out of the car, in one piece.

Mercifully, Rekha was not hurt. But the car was an absolute wreck.

The second accident I had, was extremely bizarre. It was 5 years later and it happened on the very spot that I described, near the Ambedkar statue on Kodambakkam High Road, around the same time in the evening, on the same dimly lit road. It was a deja-vu, as I climbed the Median and crashed down. This time, I was not hurt and no one was in the car with me . Not even Ashish, who used to be my shadow as a child.

The car was a predictable mess . I took to avoiding the Kodambakkam Road with the Ambedkar Statue like the plague after that.

The third time I was involved in a car accident, I was not behind the wheels.The driver was.  I was sitting at the back, minding my own business.

We had just moved into the Farmhouse in Uthandi, on the ECR Road and I was returning from a Plant Nursery, with saplings for the acre. The driver was at the wheel, I was sitting at the back, on the left side, minding my own business. The seat next to me, had plants and we had packed the boot of the car with plants and bags of organic fertilisers. We were parked at the lights, waiting to turn, when a crowded two wheeler, crashed into us, from the back.

The East Coast Road is a stretch of tar in Chennai, that records the highest number of road traffic accidents both minor and major. Especially over weekends, when alcohol bought with parental plastic, drips on unsteady young hands, steering fancy wheels .

The bike, carrying 3 inebriate youngsters was zipping down ECR . They would have crashed into another two wheeler with a baby riding loosely pillion on his mother’s lap, if they had not swerved, with great presence of mind. They missed the baby on the bike and crashed into the boot of our car, scattering plants and seedlings, all over the painted white line on the road. If the plants were not there to buffer to impact of the hit, I suspect, my injuries may have been a lot worse.

The damage to the car after all the accidents ,was always disproportionate to the severity of the accidents. The damage always suggested, a possible loss of life. When the car was sent to the garage for repairs, the car mechanics, always asked if the passengers had survived as they were incredulous that anyone, could have survived the wreckage, they worked on.

Eventually, I gave up driving and slept in the back seat, while I was chauffeured around.

 

 

Susie Baboo,The Baby Snatcher

If a kid is named after you, the kid belongs to you. So I thought.

When Dr, Pathy  died, his eldest son, Dr. Paramathy Pathy, was in the UK doing his higher studies. His wife Pearl Williams, who with her parents had lived in the Parsonage with my Dad, during the Japanese Occupation, was in Kandang Kerbau Hospital having their first baby.

Unfortunately Dr. Pathy never saw his lovely little grand-daughter, who arrived, just after he died. When they were deciding her name , they found a note hand written by her Grandfather, Dr. Pathy, that said that if the baby was a girl, she was to be named Susie, after me, as I was a great favourite with him.

I was thrilled that the baby was named after me and I displayed strong, possessive, characteristics.  I thought she belonged to me. Every Sunday after Church, I would run off with her, after the service at Christ Church,

I would clutch her close in my arms and run all the way back to the Parsonage in Keng Lee Road, without looking back. Nobody worried, as everyone knew that she was with me, as they would have seen me darting out of the Church gate. After the crowds at the church dispersed, Pearl Akka and Durai Annai, would come and rescue Susie.

Another victim I kidnapped regularly after Church, was Mary Chacko,  the daughter of Uncle A.C. Chacko. She was born at the Parsonage and she was my Mother’s godchild. Mine on two counts. Mary’s Parents used to attend the Malayalam service which started after the Tamil Service. The interval between the 2 services, gave me ample time to clutch her to my lonely busom and run all the way home.

Being an only child is no fun .

 

At The Christ Church Font

 

Infant baptisms, at Christ church were incorporated into the Sunday morning service.

Babies, dressed in flowing baptism dresses, frilly bonnets and booties, would be brought to the stone font, at the back of the church and the congregation would turn around to witness the baptism and welcome the child into their midst. Godparents, would hand the infant over to my Dad. I always thought that he looked weird with a baby in his arms, as he never played with any kids, except with mine later in life.

The babies had a mix of English and Tamil names, sometimes in incongruous combinations.

Sometimes, they named the child after an ancestor.

Sometimes, the names were as floral as a Daisy, Violet, Lily and Rose. Sometimes they were rare and as precious as the gems they were named after, Ruby, Goldie, Sapphira. At other times the names were from the classics Jason, Launcelot, Genevieve, Esmeralda. Most times they were from the Bible, Moses, David, Mathew, Mark, Luke , John, Mary, Martha, Sarah, Ruth.

My Dad would baptise them, with the sign of the cross on their foreheads after dipping his fingers in the holy water, rudely awakening sleeping children and sending them into shrieks of fright.

Rekha, our daughter was baptised Rekha Sarah Alice, after her grandmothers, by my Dad, in Christ Church, on the last day, that he retired from the Diocese of Singapore.

Our son Anish, in sharp contrast, was baptised Anish Mathew Samuel after both his grandfathers, in the cold winter in the Himalayas, at Gidakom Leprosy Hospital, by Sam’s Dad who was visiting us, after we had had special permission from the Queen Mother Ashi Kesang Wangchuk.

I doubt if young people have the time or patience to use all the names they are so carefully christened with.  Most of them usually end up using the one they are known by.

Jack or Jill, Ram or Sita, Ali or Ayesha

A Coffin with a Bell

As kids, we attended baptisms and weddings all the time at Christ Church, but I do not remember attending many funerals.

The first burial I witnessed, was when Dr. K.P. Pathy of Lanka Dispensary, was laid to rest at the Bidadari Cemetary in Singapore.  Dr. Pathy was from Srilanka. A  devout Hindu, he had converted to Christianity, before he sailed with his sons Durai, Mylan, Jambunathan and Boopalan, to work in Singapore.

Every evening, he would walk from his home to our home. From, The Lanka Dispensary, on Serangoon Road to the Parsonage on Keng Lee Road. Sipping their tea on the Verandah, the two men, who had survived the Japanese Occupation of Singapore and bonded in perilous times, would seek answers from the Bible and from my Dad’s experience to answer Dr. Pathy’s burning questions about Christianity and his new faith.

They would talk late into the night, long after Dusk and  long after the birds had come home to roost in the branches of the trees around the Parsonage. When Dr Pathy died, my Dad lost, not just another member of his congregation. He lost his best friend. Perhaps I was taken to funeral , because he was considered family.

I watched in horror as the coffin was nailed and lowered into the freshly dug hole in the ground. I could not believe that friends would willfully throw fistfuls of earth on top of the coffin and walk away. Being buried alive, was my greatest primal fear and my worst nightmare. It did not help, that I had just finished reading a novel about a man who had been buried alive and had tried, unsuccessfully, to claw his way out of the Coffin.

I remember making my Uncle Thamby promise that he would triple check to see that I was really dead.

Promise me that you will make sure that I am dead before you bury me!  I begged.
Promise….say promise!

Shake me…slap me…burn my toes… do whatever  you have to….just make sure I am dead.

Thambichaen, was doubling up when he told me and everyone else in the room that he would do all that and more.
“I am going to fix a bell in the coffin and connect it to the watchman’s quarters” he said.
In case you come alive, just press the bell”
“The cemetery watchman, will hear it in his quarters near the gate of the Bidadari cemetery” He said in a reassuring voice.
When it rings, he will call me and I will come immediately and take you home.

It was such a comfort to know that my Uncle,  Thambichaen would rescue me from being buried alive. It did not matter that he was at least thirty five years older than I was, when he made me these wild promises.