I waited for Liza to leave before going to the kitchen to see if there is anything left for me to eat. I didn’t want Amma to accuse me of finishing the food before my sisters had a chance to eat!
There was still some uppuma left in the wok and I took half of it in a plate, leaving the other half for Amma. I couldn’t find the pickle, so I took some sugar and sprinkled on top of the uppuma
Amma was in the washroom and I tried to eat as fast as I could before she came out. But the thing with uppuma is, it is too dry and it kind of get caught in the throat. I was just about to finish eating when I heard Amma opening the door. I got up quickly and walked to the kitchen and dumped the plate in the sink. I could have escaped if it wasn’t for the remnants of uppuma stuck on my fingers!
I washed my hands and as I took the kitchen towel to wipe my hand, I heard Amma speaking
“nanam illallo! pathirupathu vayassayi.. ennittum thalla vechu velampanam!”
(ain’t you ashamed? You are old enough to make your own food and still expect your aging mother to cook food for you)
My mother had no problems when it came to ironing Liza’s blouse, but she can’t cook for me. I looked at her wondering if she really knew how mean she was to me.
“What is your issue Amma? You can iron Liza’s top eh? But you can’t cook for me?”
“She is still young, when you were young I ironed your clothes too! Have you forgotten that?”
“No you didn’t Amma. Appa used to iron my clothes when I was little, then Akkachi did and when she left, I started ironing my own clothes. You never did”
“nee allelum enginey okkey parayum edi, Ungrateful wretch. I should have never given birth to you”
“Too late for that now” I mocked at her. I was sick and tired of my mother telling me that she should have never given birth to me.
Amma raised her hand to hit me and I held her wrist.
“Don’t Amma. Don’t even try that. Don’t you dare hit me. I have taken enough from you. You will not hit me anymore. Do you understand that?” I yelled.
Amma tried to wriggle her arm to break free from my grasp. I realized she wasn’t as strong as she used to be and I wasn’t as weak as I used to be.
I knew Amma’s wrist was hurting. I knew I shouldn’t hurt Amma. But at that moment, much as I wanted to let go of her wrist, I couldn’t. For years I had dreamt of giving it back to her. For years I wanted to stand up for myself. For years I thought I was weak for not having the physical and the mental strength to fight with Amma. But not today. I was finally able to stand up to her.
Amma stopped trying to free her arm. She was staring at me and I let go.
“You will suffer Nina, for the hurt you have caused me, you will suffer”
“Same goes to you Amma” I whispered as I walked towards my bed. I sat on my bed. I was still breathing deep and I closed my eyes to calm me down.
I could still see the way Amma was looking at me before she stopped wriggling her arm. I could see the pain in her eyes. I knew I hurt Amma too much. I shouldn’t have.
I walked back to where she was standing.
Amma was facing the kitchen shelf and I knew she was crying.
I hated myself. How many times have I promised myself that I would never make Amma cry?
Each time Appa hit her, each time Maria hurt her by being rude, each time Liza yelled at her and made her cry I had promised that I wouldn’t make Amma cry. And what did I do?
“I am sorry Amma”
She didn’t respond. She just wiped her cheeks and turned and walked towards the sink. She took the plates from the sink and started to wash. The plate on top was mine. How could I be like this? How could I expect my aged mother to wash my plates? I felt so guilty.
“Amma I will wash the plates” I whispered.
She didn’t respond.
“Amma” I touched her shoulder
“thottupokaruthu (don’t touch me” Amma screamed and I quickly took my hand off. The way she screamed, it almost felt like I was electrocuted. Amma didn’t even turn to look at me. I stood there hoping she would, hoping against hope that she would forgive me. After washing all the dishes Amma turned, wiped her hand on the towel and walked around me as though I didn’t exist.
I didn’t want to stay at home anymore. I just had to get out of the house. I hated myself for hurting Amma. I wondered why I always dreamt of vengeance? What good did it do? What was the thrill I thought I would get by fighting back with Amma? If only I had known how guilty I would be feelings, then I would have never dreamt of vengeance.
I changed my clothes and went to Amma’s room.
She was sitting in front of the sewing machine, trying to thread the needle while balancing her spectacles on her nose. I knew she couldn’t see very well. She had been wanting to get an eye check done and had been postponing because we had no money to buy new glasses.
I knew Amma won’t let me help her, but I still asked
“Shall I help you thread the needle?”
She didn’t reply. I wasn’t surprised at all.
“Amma I am going out” I spoke hoping she would ask where I was going? Although I had no idea where I was going!
She still didn’t speak.
I took my bag from the floor and walked out, closing the door gently.
I checked the time. It was 9.45 am. The streets were busy with people rushing to work, traders getting their carts organized, house wives busy buying vegetables from the street vendors. I didn’t know where I was going.
Where to go?
I was in the middle of one of the busiest streets in Bangalore, yet I had no where to go. No friends home to visit, no cousins home to visit..no nothing.
I was alone in Bangalore pattanam. I almost laughed thinking about my pathetic life.
Since most of the shops in MG road opens only after 10 and I had nothing else to do and very little money to spend I decided to walk to MG road from Austin town.
By the time I reached the junction near St Philomena’s hospital I was exhausted. I also realized MG road was still very very very far away!
I thought of walking back home. But there was nothing to do at home and I didn’t want to fight with Amma.
I was thirsty. May be I will buy a glass of lemon juice. I could almost visualize a glass of fresh lime soda! But that meant longer wait for Amma’s glasses.
Never mind. I won’t die just because I am thirsty. I told myself while trying to remember how long can a human last without water. I couldn’t remember.
I must have walked another 15 to 20 minutes when I noticed a red Maruthi car slowing down and coming towards the sidewalk. Where did this monkey learn to drive? I wondered. I moved to the side and continued to walk. Then I heard the car driver honking.
oi? Why was he honking? May be it was one of my college mates. I turned to look, while thinking who owned a red Maruthi. I saw a middle aged ugly man grinning at me. He certainly wasn’t my classmate. Although I didn’t quite understand why he was grinning at me, I continued to walk. Was he a patient at the hospital? Why was he smiling? Does he know me?
I was sure I had never met him before, still I hoped he wasn’t someone I was related to. I didn’t want to be rude to a relative.
Few seconds later the car came again in front of me and was slowing down. This time annan in the car had his head out of the window and was grinning at me.
Only then did I understand what this was all about. I got so mad mostly because I was a tube light and partly because of the annan’s audacity and what he thought about me.
“Get lost” I yelled
Annan grinned some more. I realized he was getting his thrill by making me angry. I took the biggest rock I could find and aimed to throw at his car. Even if it hit the glass and broke, I was going to throw the rock. In any case who would arrest George’s niece? Some times devils too are useful!
First rock hit the back of the car and I looked around for more rocks.
By the time I got the second rock annan and his Maruthi already crossed the traffic light.
I threw the rock down and wiped my hands on my jeans. Some how my actions reminded me of Methran Thambi’s wife. How she chased the congress party workers with the parang (sickle). I smiled thinking about it. I continued to walk, eventually I reached the MG road and all I wanted to do was to sit down. But the benches were near the Gangarams side of MG road. I still had to walk some more distance.
There were some Palestinian students standing in front of one of the shops and when they saw me walking, one of them came up to me and said
Unlike the annan He looked cute. He had hazel eyes.
I ignored him and continued to walk. He started to follow me and spoke
“Want to go for coffee?” He asked
“English gothakilva (can’t speak english)” I told him
“What?” He was staring at me
“naku english gothakilva, no english” I shook my hands and looked a him pathetically
“Oh Sorry” He whispered and walked back to where his friends were standing, waiting for the next girl who could speak English.
The irony was every one wanted to go out for coffee with me, except the guy I am in love with. I had no clue where he was or what he was doing. As I walked I checked all the bikes, hoping I could spot his bike. Cauvery handicraft show room was opened and there were few matsalleh’s already in the shop. I looked at all the cure handicraft stuffs in the show room. I loved the wooden elephant set. One day when I make enough money I would buy the elephants. I promised myself.
Window shopping is boring especially when you have no money to spend. I crossed the road and went to sit on the cement bench. The sun was shining and there were no shades. I knew if I sat there any longer, I would get a head ache. So I got up and walked towards commercial street.
There was nothing much to do in commercial street either. So I walked to Eloor lending library, sat there and read some books. My stomach started to growl and I was sure the man sitting across the room could hear it. I borrowed some books and walked out. I went to the park and sat down there for a while, around 4 pm, I started to walk back home.