The shop was a ten minute drive away from the park we were at just now. It was half past three in the afternoon and the sun was blazing hot today. I had to take off the black suit I was using from the talk and fold up my red shirt sleeves up to my elbow.
Sindhu on the other hand was dressed to suit any Malaysian weather. With her pink t-shirt and black jeans, she seemed to be at ease let the weather be sunny or rainy. As we walked towards the shop and took our seat, a familiar voice was heard greeting us.
"Thambhi, long time never see you. How's everyone at home?" greeted Manickam Anne in Tamil. "Hi Anne, everyone is good. How are you? Nice seeing you around Anne." I replied in Tamil. "I am good yar. Business is going well and that's enough for me. So will it be the usual for you Thambi" asked Manickam Anne in Tamil.
"Yes Anne." I said. "How about our new friend here, what would you like to have ma?" asked Manickam Anne towards Sindhu. "Erm, I will one roti canai and plain water, thank you." said Sindhu.
"Looks like you must be a regular here. The Anne seems to know you very well sir." said Sindhu. "Haha, I have been coming to this shop since an age which I can't even remember. This is used to be our favourite breakfast spot. I mean dad and me. That's how this Anne knows me very well and Sindhu, just call me Sanjay. You don't have to use sir and all." I said
With that being said, our food arrived as well. The usual for me is two roti telur soaked in fish curry and a glass of hot tea with less sugar. "Try it Sindhu, and tell me how it is?" I said. Sindhu nodded her head and tore a small piece of her roti canai and dipped it into a bowl of sambar and placed it in her mouth. The moment the roti canai was in her mouth, the magic was starting to work and she went all smiles.
"Oh my! This is really good stuff. The roti canai is so crispy and the sambar is just wow. I don't think one roti canai is going to be enough for me." she said excitedly. "Told you Sindhu, this places serves it best. Go ahead and order whatever you want." I said. Sindhu proceed by ordering not one but two more roti canai and we indulged in the food like there was no tomorrow.
Ten minutes later, our plates were clean and we were sipping into our hot tea. "So Sindhu, what is it you would like to know next?" I asked. "Yes Sanjay, you choose a career not many people would pick, especially when you are Indian, you are generally pushed into the same three or four career choices. How did you pick something out of the norm?" Asked Sindhu.
"That's a good question Sindhu. I hope the story I am about to share with you would be useful helping your readers and other youngsters in making a career decision. To tell you this story, I would have to take you back through time again to when I was 17 years old." I said.
It was a Sunday and Amma was preparing lunch for us. We always made it a point to make Sunday as family day. Appa would cancel all work plans on Sunday and spend the day together with Amma and myself.
We would usually have lunch at home and spend the afternoon watching a movie and in the evening go out for some sports. I have to admit having a family day help's strengthens the family bond and it is one of the reason why we were so loving as a family.
I walked in to the kitchen to help Amma with her cooking. Amma had plan to make Sambar, Toufu Sambal, Mixed Vege and Fish Cutlets. I was excited to hear the menu of the day and told Amma I would help her cut the vegetables for the Mixed Vege dish.
As I was washing the vegetables and cutting it up I asked Amma, "Ma, I am going to finish school soon and I am yet to decide what course to pick for my degree." "Okey, well what do you want to do Sanjay." asked Amma. "So, that's the thing ma. I haven't really given it a thought. What do you want me to be ma." I said.
"Haha Sanjay, I shouldn't be telling you what to do, but if you were to ask me I actually want to see you being a doctor. I can just see you being a very good and kind doctor. You like helping people and put the needs of others above yourself. I think you will make a very good doctor. Plus when I was young, I wanted to be a doctor but that didn't come true. Would be nice to see my dreams become a reality through you Sanjay." said Amma with lots of hope in her eyes while I continued cutting the vegetables quietly.
"But then again Sanjay, what matters the most to me is you being happy. Whether you become a doctor or something else, as long you are happy, Amma will be very proud of you." said Amma. "Ok ma, I will think about it." I said. I continued cutting the vegetables and then gave it to her. I stayed at the kitchen to watch Amma cook. She is the best cook I know.
Amma is someone who loves cooking and the kitchen is her world. A different side of her comes out when she cooks. She likes doing a little dance and sings when she cooks. I just love hanging around the kitchen when she does it.
Appa would join her in her sing and dance but only if they both are alone. I remember there was a time I was sneaking up on thew both in the kitchen. Appa who is usually someone quiet and rigid would turn to this romantic person when they both are alone.
He will dance along with her in the kitchen and sing with her while help her cook. Watching them being in love is the bar I have set for my married life. They are indeed relationship goals. It was such a beautiful day indeed.
The following week, Appa and I decided to go out for breakfast as Amma joined the neighbor aunties to do marketing. We headed to Manickam Anne's shop for breakfast and I had my usual meal and Appa had the same thing as well.
While we were having our breakfast, Appa asked me a question, "Sanjay, Amma told me you asked her last week about what career you should pick. Have you given a thought about it yet Sanjay?" "I have been thinking about it pa but I am a little confused." I said.
"What are you confused about? Tell me and let me see if I could help you." said Appa. "So when I spoke to Amma, she told me, she wants me to be a doctor. I think I can do that pa. After all I am good with Biology and I like helping people." I said
"Ok that is interesting. Is there anything else in your mind Sanjay." asked Appa. "Yeah but it is going to sound a little stupid. Half of boys told me we should do pharmacy together." I said. "Pharmacy is a good course and some of the work they do are amazing, why you say it is a little stupid?" asked Appa.
"Well pa it is because the reason they gave. They said that in a pharmacy university, it will be mostly girls and there will be fewer guys. That's why they want to do that course." I said while having a little laugh. "Haha okey, boys will be boys. What about your other friends?" asked Appa.
"Some of them wants to go into engineering while some are considering law and accountancy. That's why I am a little confused. Whether to pick doctor, pharmacy, engineering, law or accountancy." I said sounding confused.
"Sanjay, this is all what other people wants to do or what they want you to do. Not what you want to do Sanjay. Boy, this is your life and it is you who has to make the decisions, let it be big or small. If you are going to rely on others to make decisions for you, then Sanjay you won't go far in life." said Appa.
"Sanjay, first have your end goal in mind. Ask yourself the question of in ten or twenty years where do you see yourself being and by doing what you are going to achieve that and keep you happy. Have the end goal in mind in everything you do Sanjay, that's the key to success." said Appa.
"Find what are you passionate about, what gives you energy and see how you can use your passion to achieve your end goal in mind. That is how you pick your career Sanjay." said Appa to which I nodded.
"Appa, I want to make people happy, I want to help people and make them feel better. That is my goal and that is what makes me happy, by putting a smile on to others. There is something I like doing pa but I don't know if it is the right thing pa." I said
"Go on tell me." said Appa. "I like cooking pa. Whenever you and Amma are away from home, I would cook something up for me and it does taste good. Plus I love to see the happiness Amma gets when she is cooking. I do feel the same when I cook. I want to be a great chef pa. I want to cook tasty dishes for everyone to eat because food brings happiness pa." I said while Appa was listening carefully.
"But I don't want to limit myself to cooking for hotels and restaurants for rich people pa. I want to cook and give the homeless and poor people good, tasty and nutritional food. It can change both mine and their life pa. I would be very happy doing this." I said while anxiously waiting for a response for my dad.
Appa took some time to think about it before saying. "If that gives you happiness and you are passionate about it then go ahead and do it. You can't go wrong on something you are passionate about. Start looking for the best cooking school and let's get you enroll there once you are done with SPM." said Appa
"Remember one thing Sanjay, your end goal is to provide good food to the poor and homeless. Ten years down the road, I want to see you do this and not forget about it because you got busy or rich. Never forget your purpose in life Sanjay." said Appa.
"This was where it all happen Sindhu, right at this very shop here is where I made the decision to be a chef when I was 17. I spoke to Appa about it at that table over there." I said to Sindhu today while pointing my finger to the table across.
"With every story Sanjay, my respect for your father keeps growing. Mr. Arun Pandian is a man I am beginning to idolise too. I come from a broken family actually Sanjay. I had an abusive dad when I was growing and my mother was a helpless woman. He never cared about my wellbeing or future. All he cared about was himself and his happiness. That was my impression about fathers and why I am usually very cold to men." said Sindhu with a tear in her eye.
"But meeting you and hearing about Arun Pandian, it really did crush my opinion on men. It is a shame that all the men I have met in myself have been horrible people. Thank you Sanjay for giving me hope again in people. I wished I had a dad like yours" said Sindhu.
My phone started to ring before I could comfort Sindhu. "Sorry Sindhu, I have to take this call." I said. "Hi ma yes. What! When did it happened? Ok ok calm down ma. You guys go to the hospital first. I am out now and I will come immediately. Don't worry ma everything will be ok, I am coming there right away ok ma. Bye." I said panicking while trying to comfort my mum to be calm.
"Is everything ok Sanjay?" asked Sindhu. "I am sorry Sindhu, but can you find your way back home. It is an emergency. I need to go to the hospital right away." I said. "Sure Sanjay, you go first and I will see you another time." said Sindhu. I paid the bill and left immediately to hospital praying for everything to be fine and safe.