Posted in Daily post

Bud and Two leaves

tea

I was pleasantly surprised with the Daily word prompt – TEA.

My glorious childhood was among’st this backdrop.  Sri Lanka’s upcountry was mainly adorned by Tea estates.  But this was no ordinary Tea Estate.  This was my little utopia.

My dad worked as a Scientist at the Tea Research Institute (TRI) in Sri Lanka.  Tea being the major export of the country, this research facility also was one of the largest organisations of the country.  It was also important to establish the research centre where the Tea actually grew rather than in a major city.

Very large laboratories of all disciplines such as Bio Chemistry, Entomology, Pathology etc were established with the latest equipment’s.  All the staff were given Housing. Rather beautiful and luxuries houses were built for the staff.  They were maintained by TRI as well.  The lawns were mowed, regularly painted and furniture’s were upgraded. Most of these things were primarily established by the British.  So you did get a feel of the British presence in the decor and style of the Bungalows.

We had our own transport.  Buses for the staff and their family to go to school, shopping etc.  A large fleet of cars with drivers for staff and family.  Our own little hospital and medical facility, Post Office,  Telecom and even a  Water dam and purification plant. Our own club house, sporting venues the list goes on.

We were all removed from our core extended families.  This became our extended family.  It’s not a cliche’ when I say, we lived together in harmony without any racial or other disputes.

The labs were my playground.  This was the era before Occupational Health and Safety or Work Cover mandates.  But we didn’t have any accidents, this was also an era where people used something called common sense.  We didn’t need a sign that said “Slippery when wet”.  Anyway, coming back to my playground or playgrounds, I had no siblings and no playstation or any other electronic device.  Not even internet, so I had to learn to amuse my self and I lived mostly outdoors.

The soil here was really great.  Everyone had a great garden filled with flowers, fruit treas and vegetables.  Constantly we would exchange our produce.  I spent most of my time up a fruit tree.  When I got bored with that I would walk to the lab. On the way I would frolic through the Tea fields, run up and down the extensive stairs that went from the Tea Factory to the Lab.  Every one knew me.  I was like the common village dog, that was fed by every butcher.

I mainly played in the Bio Chemistry Department as that’s where my dad worked.  But I knew the entire geography of all other labs as well and had at least one friend in each department.  Yeah I know they were grown ups and I was a kid, but they were still my friends and showed me “cool” stuff.  I knew to operate the centrifuge and I played with Magnets.  I knew about Poly Phenol’s long before I went to high school.  When I think about it now, it wasn’t really playing, my dad was teaching me Science and I was doing science experiments.

One bud and two leaves – all that is plucked to produce tea.  Silver tip is the only one uses just the buds and hence the high cost.  I would accompany my dad on many of the guided tours he would take our visitors and I knew all this information long before I started school.

dad stamp

The above is my dad on an old Sri Lankan Postal Stamp. He is injecting radio active isotopes into tea leaves to study the pattern of the nutrients movement.  Nutrients from the root did not evenly go all over the plant.  The mother leaf (the bigger leaf on the bottom) fed the one on top and so forth.  When you removed the big leaf right underneath baby leaf, the leaves further down acted as a surrogate and fed the bud.

That was one amazing child hood, it all came to an end when I lost my dad at 19. Such is life, still grateful that I had this childhood and to all the uncle’s and aunties of TRI who were there for us then and even now.  Children of TRI hold a special bond.  All of us grown up and adults now.  But most of us are still in contact even from different parts of the world.

Disclaimer:  It’s a long time since I left TRI, some information shared here may not be completely accurate.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tea/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/soil/

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=two+leaves+and+a+bud+book&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjV17SrzLDVAhXEF5QKHS14DU0Q1QIIdSgB

 

https://www.google.com.au/search?biw=1280&bih=894&q=tea+plantations+sri+lanka+nuwara+eliya&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjHvd7KzrDVAhWLe7wKHX6UATAQ1QIIuwEoAQ

 

 

Posted in Daily post, True Story, Inspirational

If Only, I Could Turn Back The Clock … (part 2)

dad lab

Our little flat was filled with people.  Relatives who had got to know of the situation flocked to see him and us.  When I say he was loved by all, he was really loved by all.  It is not a sentence just grouped together at the eulogy.  We still have people writing books about him or mentioning him in their book.  For dad this was one big party.  He was happy to see everyone, but didn’t understand what the fuss was about.  He was more interested in making sure everyone had a cup of tea and biscuits to go with it, and downplayed that he was unwell.

I was absolutely useless.  I wanted to keep it altogether, but was struggling enormously.  I didn’t want him to see me upset.  I didn’t  want my face to fess up, why my heart was sinking.  I was in a daze, it was worse than any nightmare I could imagine.  I disappeared to the next room time to time, and sobbed uncontrollably.

I don’t know if at that time I feared his mortality, or just felt he was never going to get back to being normal. I think it was the latter,  but even that was not okay for me.  It took a long time for the next day to arrive.  There were no birds chirping, just the blaring horns from the traffic outside.  It felt louder than otherwise.

There were many if’s and maybe‘s that kept popping in my head throughout the night.  If only mum had not accompanied me to Colombo, then she would have found out Dad was ill,  he may not have got ill at all, she would have been there to make sure that he took his blood pressure tablets, to make him proper meals,  maybe we should have rung him during the week, then we may have picked it up early…. The questions never got answered, just repeated on a loop. In time I have learnt not to dwell on if’s and maybe‘s, Life’s hard lessons have taught me to move on, not to dwell.  But, I was far too young then, and this was my first real lesson in life.

Peter, the (TRI) ambulance driver came over just before lunch.  Peter came early as he couldn’t sleep or stay away, he was very upset about dad too. So, the plan was to have lunch and then to head off to the specialist.  I think they were going to see a Neurologist.  My best bud (who is now my sister in law) had just heard the news and had rushed over to see us. Dad’s conversation with her highlighted even further the memory blanks.

Dad’s speech was slurring even more.  He asked me for a towel to wipe his sweaty face.  It was a hot and humid day.  Still, he was sweating way more than us.  Mum, signaled to me to see her in the kitchen.  She asked me to fetch my cousin Sulo.

She is a doctor and was home on maternity leave.  She lived next door.  When I say next door, it’s not like you open your front door and walk up to the next drive way.  I have to run down the stairs, through a passage way, through the small opening on the wall, under the water tank and finally to her back door.  (my aunt built four houses for her four daughters next to each others and created nice little “Favela”)

My cousin didn’t wait for me to finish my sentence.  She was on sprint mode.  She suspected that he was having a heart attack and ordered us to carry him down stairs and to take him to “Emergency” Hospital. She was vehement that he should not walk downstairs but to be carried.

This is when I saw the quirkiness of the ailment.  Dad became very stubborn.  While I was away to fetch my cousin, he had vomited.  But as per him, after that he felt better.  So, now he was feeling full of beans, and didn’t see the need for the fuss.  Then he reluctantly agreed to go to the hospital.  But, again didn’t see the urgency to rush.  I can still remember him having a last look at the mirror and combing his hair.  This was very unlike him.  He was not a stubborn man, nor was he fashion conscious.  But on this day he was, he didn’t want the patient tag on him.  He wanted to walk downstairs too.  But, with my begging he listened and allowed, our downstairs neighbor and friend Sri and the ambulance driver to carry him downstairs in a chair.

Mum and my cousin accompanied him to the hospital.

Cont … 

Part 1 https://uma197.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/if-only-i-could-turn-back-the-clock/

Part 3 https://uma197.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/if-only-i-could-turn-back-the-clock-part-3/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clock/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tea/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/maybe/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/stubborn/

Posted in Daily post, True Story, Inspirational

If Only, I Could Turn Back The Clock … (part 1)

dad labSixth of August 1985.  The final nail to the already crumbling state of despair.  The clock started ticking sixteen days prior to this fateful day.

I write about a lot of things, mostly things that has happened in my life.  Writing helps me to heal, vent and sometimes just to delve into happy memories and reminisce. Life for me is not just doom and gloom, after rain there is the rainbow (I give credit for this metaphor to my cousin Roy, not sure where he borrowed it from, but I think it’s a goody).  But, there is no rainbow when you lose some one close to you, just the torrential rain, eventually you are all cried  out.  You smile for the world.  You learn to cope.  You now know never to let it rain again, You lock it shut and throw the keys away.

 Many a times I have thought about writing about my dad’s passing.  I have touched on the subject a few times, but never could I completely submerge into it.  Emotions are too raw and too hard to hold back.  So, I retreat even before I start.

Nearing his 31st death anniversary, thought it is time, to talk about that phone call, the phone call that came late that evening.  Beginning of the end.

Dad was a scientist at the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka.  He was well liked and admired.  Apparently he was really great at his job.  There was even a stamp that was printed with his face.  But, he was a gentle and a humble soul with a wicked sense of humour. Some of his jokes were really terrible. But we still laughed.  The Joke being terrible was a joke too.

I remember Steve Irwin’s daughter at his funeral saying “every girl thinks that their dad is the greatest, but my dad was really the greatest”. I feel the same pretty much everyday.

Year 12 exams were nearing, unfortunately after the major riots in 1983, all the Tamil ( a dialect) teachers had left Kandy and retreated back to their home town of Jaffna.  Our school was finding it hard to find replacement teachers.  The day scholars didn’t mind it as they were able to attend private tuition.  Being a boarder under the nun regime, I had no avenues to get ready for the exams.  So finally my dad decided to take me home and educate me himself, or with the help of the rest of the scientists in the place.  My subjects were Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology.  TRI (Tea Research Institute) was swarming with Scientists of all those disciplines. What better place to be in than here.

One of the fundamental things we all forgot to take into account was that I was studying in Tamil and most of the residents of TRI including my dad studied these subjects in English. It was really slow going and finally, he decided to send me to Colombo (the Capital of Sri Lanka), along with my mum to get some private tuition to prepare me for the exams.

Dad would come to Colombo on the weekends.  I am trying to think back, the things we talked about or did,  he was like the male version of “Lorelai Gilmore” on “Gilmore Girls”. (Well, he didn’t sleep around switch between Luke and Christopher like a yo yo, but ..) We talked and laughed about the most stupidest things. We had the most amazing relationship.

daddy's girl

For his time and for his generation he was very progressive.  There was no taboos and restrictions, mainly reasons explained why we could take a different path. Social justice and fairness was very high on the agenda for him.  He found it hard to accept the community’s norm of the “Class” system. He didn’t think women were inferior.  He found “dowry” appalling. He didn’t just think, he believed that I was amazing.

I could write the praises of my dad for days and nights, and how much of a great human being he was. But today’s task is to write about that day when the clock turned on my mum and me.

Dad was meant to come home that Friday evening.  Dad calls to say that he was not feeling that well and has decided not to come.  Which was okay by me.  But, mum was not.  She kept saying that, “no he didn’t sound right”.  She didn’t sleep well at all.  Next morning, she decided to take the train to TRI to see dad. My cousin and I laughed at mum, we both thought she was overreacting.  But my cousin joked and said that it was true love and she should follow her instincts.

She found dad in an absolute state.  She informed the staff and soon got him in the TRI ambulance and transported him to Colombo.  Although it was called an ambulance it does not have any medical staff. It is just a glorified van. So, Dad arrived home.  Although mum rang me ahead and told me that he was not well, I didn’t picture this, at all.

He was weak and stumbled when walking.  He was still smiling and wanted to talk, wanted to talk a lot.  But nothing he said made much sense.  I could hardly recognise who this man was.  I went into the adjoining room and started to weep.  Give me back my dad.  He was fit as a fiddle last week, what happened in just a week. My mum hugged me and said “he is going to be fine”, I don’t think even she believed what she was saying.  But, she had to say something to console me, she had to be strong for her girl.  She had much to do and she couldn’t take time off to drop the ball.

You wonder why this man was in the house and not in the hospital.  Well, this was Sri Lanka. Even if you think you are going to die, you have to make an appointment with the doctor next day.  So, dad had an appointment to see the specialist next day after lunch.

Cont…

https://uma197.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/if-only-i-could-turn-back-the-clock-part-2/

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/clock/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/admire/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/joke/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/praise/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tea/