Aunty Reena’s mother was watching me. She had the look on her face that asked
‘Oh my!, that phone call was really short. Why? What happend?’
I smiled and told her
“Amma is busy with a meeting, May be I will call her later.”
Suddenly her facial expression changed to one that said,
‘you want to make another phone call?, you are not paying for it. My daughter pays the bill at the end of month’
Immediately I told her “I think I will wait for Amma to come this evening than phone her. Any way it isn’t that urgent.”
She now had an understanding, kind smile on her face.
“Do you want something to drink? Does your leg hurt?” She asked me
“No, Ammachi I am fine. Thank you for letting me use your phone.”
“You are welcome Nina, and Please close the main gate on your way out”
As I closed the main gate and walked towards my home, I was angry. I was angry with the Indian government because they don’t issue phone connection to everyone and just because of that, I have to beg my neighbours to make a simple phone call. I tried to kick the rocks that was on the floor and soon realised my own folly. It is difficult to kick anything with a leg covered with a heavy plaster cast. I limped and dragged my feet and walked towards home.
I thought about my mother. Where did she go? What is she hiding? My mind kept telling me, There is something wrong. First Amma went to Bangalore, now she said she is going to work and she is on leave.
I knew I had to do something. I could only think of letting Appa know all these. May be he will know what to do. I will write a letter to Appa. I walked home fast. If I write a letter now, I can send it today itself, before Amma returns.
Akkachi was waiting for me near the main door.
“Did you speak to your mother?”
“No Akkachi, Aunty Reena’s phone is out of order.” I quickly walked to my room. I was confused and upset. I just lied to Akkachi. I don’t know why I did that. ‘Why couldn’t I tell Aunty Reena’s mother and Akkachi that my stupid mother is doing something wrong? Why do I have to protect her and sin by lying.? ‘
I quickly tore a piece of paper from my english work book. I sat down on my bed and started to write.
I hope you are fine. I am writing this letter to let you know that..
I didn’t know what to write. Let Appa know what? How do I tell my father, what my mother is doing? I wanted to scream at the top of my voice. Because I don’t know what is going on. I have no one to talk to. I can’t ask Amma, what she is doing and I can’t tell Appa what Amma is doing. All I know is something is very wrong and I just can’t fix it. I was angry. Angry to be born in to this family. I crumpled and squashed the piece of paper in my hand. It didn’t feel good. I opened the paper, straightened it out, and tore it in to thousands of tiny pieces.
I got up from my bed to take the rubbish bin from under my desk. That is when I saw the picture of Jesus on the wall. It was a beautiful picture, Chacha Appachan gave Amma before he went to US. A framed picture of Jesus praying in Gethsemene.
I looked at Jesus on the picture and told him
‘You told me to honour my mother and father. I cannot do it any more and you are not going to sit there and look at me’.
I climbed on the table and pulled the frame down. It slipped out of my hand and fell on to the floor. Akkachi came to my room running
“What broke? I heard the sound of something breaking! Are you Ok Nina?”
I slowly climbed down from the table. Akkachi took the frame from the floor. I could see the glass was broken.
“Oh my goodness the glass is broken. Now we will have 7 years of bad luck. Why did you touch the picture Nina? And that too you climbed the table with your broken leg!. What is wrong with you Nina?”
“Sorry Akkachi, I was just adjusting the frame and putting it properly”.
“Now wait till your mother comes, she will see the broken glass and going to scold you for that. You just love to invite trouble all the time don’t you?”
I wanted to tell Akkachi, If I open my mouth and tell the truth, Amma would be in bigger trouble than me. But I couldn’t tell her that. I suddenly felt very worried about the 7 years of bad luck.
“Sorry Akkachi, I won’t do anything naughty, I promise”
Akkachi went to get a broom to sweep the glass from the floor. I didn’t move. I didn’t want to walk over the broken glass pieces and get hurt.
After cleaning the floor, Akkachi hung the picture back on the wall.
“I hope your mother doesn’t see that the glass is broken. You don’t open your mouth and tell her anything. Do you understand that Nina Thomas?”
“Yes I understand Akkachi Thomas.”
“I am not a Thomas and I am not going to laugh at your silly joke. I am forever worried thinking about what trouble you are going to get in to next”
I wanted to yell and tell Akkachi,’Help me Akkachi, I am carrying too much burden and there would be big trouble soon.’ but I couldn’t crucify my own mother.
Akkachi went to the kitchen and I went to lay down on my bed.
Amma came in the evening on time. I got up from the bed and took my father’s letter.
“Amma, there is a letter from Appa”
“Oh really, that man finally remembered he has a family?, Impressive!”. She took the letter from my hand and read.
“Where is the cheque Nina?”
“He send a draft” and I gave it to Amma.
“Now that he send money, perhaps you could buy me a gold bangle, to replace the one you sold to buy stuff for chechy”
“You are one selfish child, you only think about your self. I just got some money and all you think of is your bangle?”
“I am your daughter for sure, so I must have inherited your traits”
“What do you mean by that?”
I didn’t want to argue. I shrugged my shoulder and walked back to my room.
“Wait there.” Amma pulled me around and I saw myself facing her fiery eyes
“How dare you call me selfish, After working the whole day, I walked to Arya Bhavan and bought masala dosa for my children. See this??” She pulled out the dosa parcel from her bag. “You call me selfish? How dare you Nina?”
I pulled my hand from her grasp and before she had a chance to say ‘I am not going to feed ungrateful children; and deny me the dosa, I told her,
“I don’t want to eat your masala dosa”
I walked to my room smiling, because I beat my mother in her game.