Sep 27, 2011

Living with cracked ribs : Life after the Great Fall

Spare me the embarrassment of retelling the story of how I cracked my ribs!! Today is the week anniversary of the accident! So tonight it's all about the week after the fall!

The Great Fall, in itself, wasn't that glorious. A nervous beginner cyclist. Two bikes and an auto coming on the wrong side. Too narrow a road. Nerves taking over. Cyclist down. Passerby stops to help. "I'm still learning" cyclists grins (sheepishly). Ignoring throbbing knees. Ignoring hurting sides. 10 minutes later, failed cyclist turns badminton player. Loses a mixed double. Partner blames her. She blames hurting sides and throbbing knees. Next day, pain too much to bear. Doc appointment. X-ray. **Kaching** Multiple rib fracture.

I fell asleep while waiting for the doctor with my X-ray results. It was 11 in the morning and I hardly slept for five hours. The night before, there was a funeral and we stayed up the whole night while waiting for the body to be sent back home. The nurse must have called me several times. She woke me up with a hand on my shoulder.  After knowing about my fractured ribs, I must say, I needed a place to 'lick my wounds' and headed to a friend's place where I stayed for lunch and dinner. I fell asleep on the way back too.

What's it like to have cracked ribs?

1. The P word. It's been a week. I still take painkillers and muscle relaxants every single day.

2. I can't lift my left arm much. Today I did my laundry with only one hand!! Sigh! there goes my futile attempt at ambidexterity. Yet again!

3. I always live in the fear of getting knocked, pulled and pushed around or tickled in the ribs. Yes! The guys I hang out with do that to me all the time. Thankfully! My "Nak na" squeal would stop them in their tracks. One still chose to playfully punch my stomach! Hmmm ... Men!

4. I still can't sleep on my left side. I am a fetal curler. And I toss around in my sleep. This past week, I wake up in my sleep a lot. All because every time I turn to my left, I wake up from the pain. Extra cushioning doesn't do much help.

5. I'm the object of ridicule. People are laughing at my expense. This particular group (they call themselves 'Delhi Mizo Male Voice'... I call them 'Chimawm Gang') said that with all my kickboxing exercise, I still manage to crack my ribs. They also slyly added "Nakruh na chung hian kawm a lo nuam tawk chauh anih hi". Another friend told me to lose weight. He's totally barking the wrong tree here. He, himself, is underweight yet he broke his ribs (Mind you... it's 'broke' not 'cracked') while playing football last month. Certain tweets and picture-tweets add feathers to my already prominent crown of ridicule. A friend tweeted that he'd chain  me to a tree near my hostel after my refusal to take a weekend off.

6. A few people have been good to me though! Nu Mamawii offered me a bed to sleep on the day my results came out, gave me two good hot meals and asked me to stay over (which I didn't. Dang! I should have!). The damlo kan date with the girls didn't materialize but we settled for a hearty drink of Banta and Nimbu Paani the next night. A slab of chocolate, I will never forget, made it to my mini fridge too. Four, and I count, four gentlemen have the decency to text me asking me how am I doing. One absolute gentleman offered to carry my handbag for me. And the boyfriend is definitely not one of them. Shame, shame. And I write this because I know he will read this!! It's only a subtle hint though!

7. I can't exercise at all! I sit everyday feeling like a couch potato!

8. I can't sing. LITERALLY. It hurts when I sing. And I take this time to apologize for the horrible group singing this Sunday. It was all my fault. My breath ran out, I couldn't hold a tune for long and I couldn't sustain.  It was all my fault. The others in the group are excellent singers. I am responsible for every sharps and flats in the song! :(

9. I take bath only with warm/hot water. In Delhi heat. Doc's orders. :(

10. The hardest thing during my week long journey to recovery is riding an auto or a bus. Auto is the worst. Especially in Delhi roads. My toes curl every time I see another speed breaker or a dent on the road. "Bhaiyya, aaram se!!" and "Ouch" all in the same breath!! After a nasty ride with the rude Autowallah  this evening, I told myself that I will not budge from the campus for this whole week!

Corset's my new fashion trend! I'm kidding! I don't go around in that bandage anymore! P.S:  The  constipated smile was to mask the pain... The pic was taken on the day I was diagnosed!

It's only been a week. The doctor said it'll take a couple of weeks before I can stop the painkiller and the muscle relaxant and a few more weeks for the healing to complete. In the meantime, Doc told me to quit prancing around, running, dancing, skipping and pretty much all the other actions that define me. "And absolutely no cycling" were his final words!

So in the meantime, I cheat! 


I can't be me without prancing and singing! 
But I promise to be subtle about it!

Sep 25, 2011

Happy 24th "Da Who"

Today, I mean, yesterday was my baby brother's birthday. He just turned 24. 

I am such a bad sister. I didn't talk to him. Not that I forgot, but when I couldn't get through after six attempts, I guess it kinda slipped my mind. Which, I know, is absolutely no excuse! I am such a horrible sister. Period. I must have gotten distracted over the much-hyped Dhaba dinner with the girls and another, which never happened. Shame on me, and shame on you too, Duat Vin and Madamji!! When it finally registered that I didn't call the birthday boy, it was already past midnight, which means it's already too late to call him.

But anyway, it's 4:19 AM on my clock as I am typing this line. I've gotten up again after an unsuccessful attempt to sleep with the guilt. It turns out Guilt is the worst enemy of an insomniac. So here I am writing a special post about the 'man' who means so much to me.

I remembered the first time I met Hutea. It was on the day he was born and I was just two months shy of three. I remembered peeping inside my parent's room when they were changing the baby, and asking my Grandma, "Pi, tinge naute ek hi a dum vek a?".

I remembered the first time I broke his toy, the 'crawling soldier'. I cried louder than he did.

I remembered feeling jealous of the bond that he shared with Ma. Him being the youngest, he got a lot of attention from everyone.

I remembered that one time when I babysat him when he was sick. I made a mistake in measuring the medicine and gave him double the dose of what I was suppose to give him. I remembered crying aloud and refusing to eat when he was taken to the hospital after he suffered from seizures.

I remembered that day when we cut off Ma's favorite PJs to make him a superhero costume. Boy! Were we scolded bad!!

I remembered that day when he had the accident that tore out all his upper teeth. He fell from three floors to the road. We all thought he'd die that day. And he was just 4. The little buster was such a fighter after all. I still hate the doctors, that day, who stitched back his gums without a shot of LA. Hutea later told me that it felt like they were putting a burning coal in his gums with each stitch they made. And through it all, he didn't cry. My brave fella!

I remembered that night when we read a horror story book and he was scared to go to his room. He slept with me on my bed that night.

I remembered the way he'd make fun of Westlife (my favorite, back then) just because he wanted to see me go mad.

I remembered him threatening my first ever boyfriend. His exact words "Hurt her, then you'll have to deal with me"

I remembered him crying, hanging his head low, on Ma's funeral. I remembered hearing soft sniffles coming from his bed that night.

I remembered his final words to his constantly cheating ex-girlfriend who always wanted to come back after, "Ui bakin a luak a ei ngai hleinem. Ui i ni ami?". Harsh words right?? Don't blame him. He learnt it from me.

I remembered the day he called me up to tell me he graduated. I was so proud to have a baby brother who's an engineer.

Yet, I remembered him coming up to me last summer when I was home, with something as simple as his dandruff problem. 

Nontheless, he's a great brother, a strict and irritating uncle, a confused soul (sometimes), a good son, an athlete, an entertainer, a musician and a whole lotta more.

He's 24 now.
Yet he will always be the 8 year old who'd behead my barbie dolls and the 14 year old who'd draw a missing tooth on my treasured Mark Feehily posters.

He's 24 now.
Yet he still asks me to scrub his back in the bath or sometimes even shampoo his head for him.

He's 24 now.
But last time I shared him my boyfriend problems, he grinned excitedly "Hey, break up with him already. Of course, you know I'll never let you get married until you find someone who can take care of me like you do".

He's 24 now.
But when I'm around he still insists I help him pick a shirt, a sock or even underwear.

He's 24 now.
But he'll always be the baby brother I adore.

"Da Who". 
I love you.... more!
Happy Birthday
I promise to call.... before church today!

Hutea with his favorite niece: Total foodies and wai wai addicts!
My favorite pic in the summer (ignoring the blur). Genuine happy faces! 

Sep 23, 2011

Bicycle Diaries

So after living my whole life with a two-wheeler-phobia (do they have a word for it?), a couple of years back, I decided to get curious to know what's beyond my fears. And curious did I get with a friend's scooty. Attempting to mount a scooty without even knowing how to balance a bicycle was, yes, biting off more than I could chew. After two nights with 4 guys holding the scooty while I fought to tame it, I fell. Wait! I was fine... but the scooty wasn't. The next day, the scooty was taken in for repairs. And out of guilt, my curiosity took a backseat.  

Last semester, I got curious... again... with my brother's bullet. But looking at how heavy the bike looked and knowing how narrow and steep the roads in Aizawl are, I decided to start humble. Humble meaning my roommate's hand me down bicycle.

I fell a dozen times before I could learn how to balance it. 

I will always remember the first time I cycled on an 'actual' road. Nancy, my roommate was close-by, guarding me when all of a sudden, I lost my balance and fell. It must have hurt because I remembered lying in the middle of the road with the bike on top of me. Nancy lost all her manners that day and laughed at me all sprawled out on the road. I, on the other hand, attempted to get up only after seeing vehicle lights around the bend of the road. 

Battle scars?? Hardly. Except for half a dozen bruises, scraped knees and palms, a superficial cut in the stomach (yes, right on the tums) and a sprained lil' toe which swelled up to the size of my big toe in a few hours and turned purplish the next day. Hardly anything at all!!

It took me three weeks before I could muster up the courage to cycle on a road. That night, I ran over a peaceful-sleeping dog. I screamed and apologized altogether at the same time. I didn't know to who I apologized to... I think it was the dog, hoping I wouldn't get bitten by it. Well, it worked. The dog barked loudly and ran away. I've never seen that dog in that part of campus again!

Have I ever mentioned that drama just follows me? My very first ride downhill, the brakes on the bike were broken. So you can just imagine what happened to me and the random security guard in my path! Three words. Crash. Boom. Bang.

It was months before my next encounter when I hit a parked car and set off the car alarm. I would pay good money to see myself panicking and running away before the car owner could come out. The next day, I was walking by the same car when I noticed a huge dent right where I hit the car. I posted a note with my name and phone number... mentally of course. I am such a loser!!

My ultimate encounter happened a couple of days ago when I fell trying to pass a bike and an auto both coming on the wrong side of the road. Seriously, this time, it wasn't my fault. I had no cuts but only a few bruises. I was sore the next day. In fact, too sore that by nightfall, I could hardly move. I went to a doctor and took some X-rays.

Well, now I sit here staring at my X-ray sheets, my head still hazy from the painkillers and my ribs firmly taped up. It hurts each time I giggle and I have to hold my side each time I laugh.

"Multiple rib fracture" The doc told me, "No jumping, prancing, dancing, rigorous exercise and absolutely no cycling for a month. Take it easy. And don't lift heavy stuffs. You'll be fine in a few weeks".  

Hmm..... With Mizo Kut Season and North-East Night just around the corner, I wonder how will I survive??? I guess I have to kiss the Cyclothon attempt goodbye!

Let the month pass by, and I promise myself, I will mount the Machine.... once again! 

I still have along way to go....

I still have to conquer The Bullet!!


Me! :)

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going!!

Sep 19, 2011

To the hurting She...

(To the woman shaken. Not because of the quake and not because of the defeat at Old Trafford! )

I wish I could take away that heaviness in your heart right now. My heart aches with every tear you roughly wipe away with the back of your hand, smudging those well-lined eyes! My soul weeps to hear you say his name with a trembling voice on the verge of a breakdown.

I wish I knew the right words to say, the right thing to do to somehow ease that pain eating you alive. I wish trashing the name of the one who breaks your heart would somehow help it heal. But then, I also know it won't. It makes me smile with an ache in my heart because I know that if I even go verbal against him, you'll be the first person to defend him. 

We are such suckers in love, aren't we? Isn't it funny that we, self-proclaimed independent women, are such huge marshmallows when it comes to the matters of the heart? Isn't it so much like us to get our hearts broken over and over by the same person over the same silly thing? Isn't it a lot like us to forgive but only to be deceived all over again? Isn't it unfair that some people always end up taking advantage of us? Isn't it in our nature to give, give and give untill we have nothing left to give? Isn't it like us to always hesitate before we take something from someone else, no matter how negligible that something is? And worse, isn't it so much like us to always be the one hurting in the end? 

How can it be that we somehow always let people close enough to hurt us, despite the many times that we have been broken before? What happened to the walls that we've built? Or have we really built them at all? Have our concern and our decision to be carers (despite being broken ourselves) stood in the way of the completion of those protective walls? How can it be that smart women like us can be so dumb all at the same time? 

Are we not the prized daughters of our families?? I still remember your Mum beaming with pride that last time she visited you. Your Dad, I know, believes he has the most responsible daughter in the world. I agree with him. He does. Your sister knows that you deserve the very best while your baby brother believes that there is no one in the world good enough for you. There are dozens of men who would throw themselves on the path of a bullet for you. Yet here we cry, all because of one man and his complications.

I don't want to ask the same question again. Is he worth it?

I don't know the answer, you don't either.

But like we said, virtuous women like us, sometimes just don't have the world at their feet. Yet, we always choose to  be the bigger person and the more-patient partner. We always choose love over hate and trust over doubt. We always make the decision to do the right thing.

But when it comes to the matters of the heart, we are, but, the ultimate fools!!

My only hope is that one day, we'll look back, and it'll all make sense. Why we always love no matter what? Why we always give multiple second chances? Why we always choose to trust, no matter how bad the track record is?

But until that day comes. We'll always do the right thing and continue being fools.

I sure hope that day comes soon enough...

Sep 17, 2011

Of a Mizo woman and her (complicated future) bride price.

A friend of mine here in Delhi often declared that she didn't want a bride price when she gets married "Kei chu cheng za li leka hralh chi ka ni lo". A well-educated modern girl, a self-proclaimed feminist with a well -to-do background refusing to have a bride price. 

I recalled an incident with a distant relative. The wife was one such woman who refused to have a brideprice. The couple got into a fight one fine day and the husband called her " Man pawh man zo lo nu". She went to her brother's house and refused to come back. They reconciled later after her family demanded her brideprice all over again!!

I must say I am a feminist too! (Sheesh! What woman wouldn't be after reaching University?). But I am not a man-hater, I celebrate womanhood. 

Adam walked with God in the cool of the day. 
Yet, God saw that he was lonely. 
Therefore, he created a woman. 

Yes! I am proud to be the woman that God, in all his wisdom, created. Yet, I know I will never be equal to a man. Wait! Hear me out before you call me incompetent. I believe there's a reason why God made sexes and genders. We were made to compliment each other. Even our areas of expertise are completely different. Talk about the bad driving of an average woman, and an average man lost in the names of different colors. There's a reason why we are different right from the chromosomal level. We aren't meant to be equals, we're meant to complete each other. 

I also know that with being a Mizo woman, comes my culture and my tradition. And tradition, lost in colonial misinterpretation, claims that when I get married, my brideprice will be Rs. 420. Wait!! No, I am not of the Lusei clan, I am a Lai. Which means the my brideprice is more than that! 

But if I have to be finicky, exactly how much am I worth? No... let's rephrase that. You can't put down a human being's value in terms of currency. What's my brideprice? According to the standard Lai brideprice, it's Rs. 1500 (at least in India). 

12 years ago, my cousin got married in Sangau, a little village in the South where my Dad proudly hailed from.  Her brideprice, I remembered, was Rs. 8000 excluding all other tokens in the form of animals or other heirlooms. 

I remembered my Dad saying that my grandfather gave instructions that none of the women in the Hranglung family should not be 'sold' for more than Rs. 60!!!!!!! (What???!!!!) Dad later explained to me that there used to be instances of people who wanted to but could not get married because of the high bride price (Rs. 420, a hundred years ago, was a lot! Rs. 1500 can financially cripple you for life.)  My Grandpa, seeing the thing that kept many people from spending their lives with the ones they loved, decided to lower the bar for the bride price at least for his family. So Grandpa, being an elder of the village and married to the chief's sister, decided that brideprice was just a token and gave such instructions to his family. 

Inspite of all the instructions, my cousin was 'sold' for such a hefty amount. The reason was that a girl's bride price was decided by her maternal uncles. Ah!! The complication!! So much for being a Rs. 60 worth Hranglung!!  

I also remembered when my mother asked an old uncle about the codes and norms of the brideprice. The uncle, who stayed with us for medical treatment was a proud old uncle Pu Pak Er better known as  Cithang-pa.  Well, in the South, people are better known by their  eldest children's names. Note to self: Should give my eldest a really pleasant name if I marry in the south. The old uncle listed down the brideprice. I didn't see the list, but my mother exclaimed as she read  "Ka pa, if this much is the bride price, no one will ever marry our daughters."

Later I learnt that the list he made includes 4 mithuns, a dozen of copper vessels, a gun and a lot more. And that is excluding the Rs. 10000 cash. That old uncle may be a little bit too much. Before he passed away, there was a joke going around with the young men in Sangau, a rather morbid one "No one should marry a Hranglung girl before Cithang-pa passed away". Him being the eldest living Hranglung in the village, his words were always heeded obediently especially when it comes to norms, codes and ethics. Brideprice being one of them.

You see how much can a brideprice differ even in one family even though the brideprice fixed today for a Lai girl is Rs. 1500. 

Sounds complicating does it?

Well, getting out of the whole mess, the point I'm trying to make here is that a brideprice is just a token of cultural practice and tradition. Who can ever chart out a human being's worth in term of money?? Even if you do so, I don't think even the richest man in the world would afford it so. A human's life is worth more than anything.

And lately, did I hear about the MHIP deciding to raise the fixed brideprice?? To what?? Where do you draw the line?? How much, would you compromise, a woman is worth if you decide that the 420 token is not enough?? 

As for me, let my brideprice go according to what my family decides. After all it's just a token of culture and tradition. I respect tradition enough for me to have a brideprice. I am definitely not my feminist friend who refuses to have a brideprice. I will not enter another family without going through the traditional norms and ritual of a brideprice. I don't really care if I go for 60 or a Lusei 420 or the Lai 1500 or the hefty 10000. A brideprice, I repeat, is after all just a traditional token, still nonetheless necessary.

So than 10 years from now, when I fight with my husband (hopefully!) he would never use the man man zo lo line on me!! I'm just kidding of course. But on a serious note, for the non-Mizo reader, if you think of ever 'buying' yourself a Mizo girl with the literal traditional token, I will hunt you down... Personally!

Sep 10, 2011

Of earthquakes, Reflexes and Survival Instincts!

I went jogging this evening! For the first time in four days. It was more of a brisk walk rather than a jog. After a few minutes of jogging, I would always end up slowing down to a walk. My three-day old sprained ankle looked and felt much better today and I could no longer just sit around with my bandaged feet! After an hour and 5 kilometers, as I sit here typing this post, with my feet all bandaged up safely for the night, I sit back thinking about the night I sprained my ankle!

I was at a friend's room in Boys Wing helping out another friend check his camera batteries when all of a sudden we heard a low rumble. Robert, sat up from the bed "E.. E... chu chu!". I listened to the low rumble as I whispered "Lirnghing".  My voice suddenly all little and squeaky. A few seconds later, the air-cooler started shaking furiously. I held on to the friend sitting next to me and squealed "Engkim, Engkim, Engkim" grabbing his wrist, somehow hoping the tremor would stop. 

It didn't!

My first instinct,then, was to hide under his bed, then I remembered promptly that parcels and an extra bedding fit snugly there. Then after looking around and not finding a pillar to stand under, I rushed towards the door hoping to stand under it. (Aunty Nimri taught me that in Shillong where we had earthquakes every few months. Pillars, Doors and under beds and tables). But when I opened the door, all hell broke loose.

Half-naked men of all color, shapes and sizes, running out, some screaming, some shouting, some even squealing. I can still clearly recall Wangjin, a self proclaimed Naga 'warrior' from next door, looking around, panicking and suddenly rushing for the staircase. 

I did the same.

I didn't remember much, but I clearly remembered pushing and shoving those screaming men and pinching Wangjin's back when he slowed down to run down the stairs. Someone pushed me from the back and before I could fall, I jumped down a flight of stairs. A rough landing, but I quickly stood up straight and ran for the lobby and out into the night.

It was all crowded outside. I found that Robert and Engkima were just behind me while I slowly registered that my ankle hurts. Robert, an UCC graduate, was used to earthquakes, I figured, until he told me he left his phone and both our cameras in the room. Engkima also told me that he ran out leaving the door wide open. I was tweeting about the earthquake and friends started tweeting back about the epicentre and the magnitude when I suddenly looked at a guy standing next to me. I laughed. He stood there. With boxers. And a pillow!!!

I remembered when there was an earthquake a couple of years back. I don't remember the date, but I remembered it was winter and I remember the stories. I remember a friend running out with a shawl, grasping her laptop under it. She was on the verge of paper submissions and she wasn't letting anything lest of all, an earthquake get in her way. A guy from a certain hostel ran out clad only in his underpants and a suitcase. He was leaving for America and his paper works were in his suitcase. I recalled a girl in our wing having a panic attack and breathing into a paper bag. But in every co-ed hostels in our campus, the Boys' Wing were emptied much faster than the Girls' Wing. I remembered how eerie and quiet the Wing felt after everyone ran out. I also remembered heading towards Engkima's room that night, no longer wanting to sleep alone in my room!

When there was an earthquake sometime ago back home, I heard of stories that even people in churches ran out mid-service during the tremor. I also heard people's remark "An piangthar lo ami le?" Which was the same remark I got from a certain friend after running out and spraining my ankle during the tremor. Which got me thinking....

If you were attacked by a madman with a knife on the streets. You would run away from him. No matter how secure your spiritual life is, you would never run to that man with open arms, looking to heaven and sighing "Lalpa, Ka lo haw". 

Reflexes! Survival Instincts! That was what made me run, what made all those naked men run, what made the Naga 'warrior' run and what made those people run out from church mid-service. The same would make me run from that madman with a knife on the streets, scream for help or act in self defense. 

Insanity would be what would make me run to him with open arms, not  a secure spiritual life!

Still, I hoped that three nights ago, Engkima would somehow have the time to grab his laptop ( His instinct. He told me so), so that 5 minutes later we would have a good laugh out of him. But for now, I can sit back and laugh at my sprained ankle, my temporary souvenir for having a much too bold survival instinct. Jumping down a flight of stairs in a Boy's Wing?? Yep.. I call that Survival Instinct.