My school days were spent in a place called Bukit Ibam in Pahang. When you google it now, it doesn’t even look like there is much left of the place apart from a lake. It was a place in the middle of nowhere where they discovered iron ore and the ‘rompin mining company ‘ was set up to mine the tin. Apartments were built for the workers. There were two schools, one Malay and one English. There was a supermarket, another store and pretty nothing much else. My dad got a job as an accountant there. That’s were we went to school . There were a few malayalee families, and our nearest neighbour was Alice’s parents and her younger sister Ruby. My sister and I, were good friends with Ruby. We got up to all sorts of mischief and also used to fight like cats and dogs. Years later when we met up again, I was really surprised to find this very ‘pavam’ grown up young lady and had to literally shake her to find out what happened to the old Ruby we used to know.
I still remember the day when my mum and her friends were getting really excited because they were going to see a Tamil film in the ‘ so called’ cinema theatre, which was basically just an open air sheltered area with lots of benches. After that every Saturday we used to look forward to watching these black and white Tamil films and that’s how my love for Tamil films started. As you can see I haven’t mentioned anything about places of worship. Despite the fact that there were people from all religions there, there were no temples or mosques or churches. We used to just light a lamp in front of ‘Sree Krishna’s’ picture in the evenings to pray and that was the extend of my knowledge regarding religion. The first time I found out about different religions and the various subdivisions was when we were back in India. To me it was a very unpleasant awakening.
One night there was a lot of thunder and lightning and my mum was lighting the lamp. Asha and I were sitting on my bed in the opposite corner of the room. My mum had just finished praying and she turned around and was walking away when a massive lightning struck the window where she was standing a few seconds earlier. Next thing we know the glass window had shattered and the curtain had caught fire and so did Asha’s bed. Luckily my dad was there and he tackled the fire. So it is times like this that I know that there is a guardian angel or God looking after us.