After lunch I walked with Alice to the play ground. Nobody wanted to play with us. I am a pandi and Alice is a poor farmer girl with no father. We sat under the casurina tree.
“Can we play jumping jacks?” Alice asked me
“Ofcourse”. We looked around us and found 5 smooth stones to play.
I showed Alice how to throw all the stones up and catch it all in one go
“Where did you learn that?” Alice asked me
“Ammalu taught me, She used to work for my Ammachi, Her father sold her to someone from Madras.”
“hmm” I nodded my head.
“You know Nina, I always wish, my father is still alive. He used to play so much with us when I was little. During summer holidays we would go to his house in Idukki. Now after he died, my uncles refuse to let us visit them”
“Your uncles, you mean your father’s brothers?”
“Hmm, they don’t want to give us my father’s share of the family property”
“Because they are greedy and we are girls. If only I was a boy, then I could have gone and kicked them like Bruce Lee.”
I started to laugh.
“Why are you laughing?” She asked me
“Remember how I fooled all our classmates telling them the story about chasing the robber and falling down from the fence wall?” I asked her
“Ofcourse, and did you get any letter from your guruji granting you permission to teach karate?” She asked me and we both started to laugh
“Nina, look there are 2 mynas there. If you see a pair of mynas, it means you will get a letter. If you see only one myna, it is bad luck.”
“Really, are you sure?”
“God promise Nina, my sister taught me that”
“may be I will get a letter from Appa today.”
“Do you love your father Nina?”
“Ofcourse I do”
“You are very lucky Nina”
I remembered Ammachi and the Vararuchi story. I looked at my best friend and told her
“There is no such thing called luck. It is all destiny”.
Alice looked at me surprised. That dialogue was probably the wisest thing I ever said to her.
We heard the bell ringing and we ran to our class.

In the evening I was eager to go home and see if the mynas really brought me letters. I opend the main door and yelled
“Akkachi, I am home. Are there any letters for me?”
“huh? Why are you asking for letters, why, you got a boyfriend to send you love letters ah?”
“Go Akkachi, you always think about boyfriends. I don’t have any boyfriend. Now tell me, are there any letters?”
“There is a letter for your mother, I think it is from Malaysia”
“From Malaysia? Really? please show me”
Akkachi took the letter from the top of the fridge and gave it to me
I checked the stamp, I saw the familiar butterfly picture stamps.
“This is from Malaysia, may be my grandmother finally decided to write to us.”
“Why doesn’t she ever write Nina?”
“Because Amma and she always fight!”
“Why Nina?”
“Don’t know Akkachi. But they never talk to each other. I only see my grandmother at the church on sundays. Amma won’t let us visit her either.”
“Hmm”, I looked at the envelope in my hand. I was relieved holding it. I felt finally my family is going to be together. Grandparents, parents, uncles aunties and all the cousins, One big family. I quickly opened the letter
It was in Malay. That is odd I thought. My grandmother never writes in Malay. She writes in English.
“Who is the letter from?” Akkachi asked me
“Don’t know Akkachi. it is in Malay”
“Look at the bottom Nina, see who signed it.”
I looked at the bottom of the page and read the name
“Ida, this letter is from tante Ida”
“Who is tante Ida?” Akkachi asked
“She is my favourite aunty. My grandfather and her father are brothers, she was born in Indonesia. Then they all came to Malaysia and settled down. She never speaks to Amma. But they stayed closer to our house and during school holidays I will visit her without telling Amma. She makes the best fried rice on planet earth.”
“What does the letter say?” Akkachi asked me
“wait Akkachi, let me read it”. I suddenly realized I have forgotten most of the malay words. I sat down on top of the gas cylinder and slowly read the letter. I didn’t understand what tante Ida wrote.
“I don’t understand anything Akkachi!”
“What do you mean?”
“She wrote, I never thought I would be forced to write to you. But your recent behaviour suggests otherwise. There was a letter from Rebecca and she mentioned that, you are back and she wants the family to intervene.
You should know that he is married and so are you. I don’t have to tell you what you should do. But I will tell you this. Stay away from my brother.”
I looked at Akkachi “I don’t understand this Akkachi. I never knew tante Ida had a brother. Where is her brother? Why does she tell Amma to stay away from her brother?”
Akkachi took the letter from me and started to tear it.
“What are you doing Akkachi?”
“If your mother knows that you opened the letter meant for her and read it, you are going to be in big trouble. Don’t you say anything about this letter!. There was never a mail from your aunty. Do you understand that Nina?”
“hmm”. I nodded my head. I watched Akkachi placing the torn pieces on the floor and lighting a match stick and burning it. After the letter completely burned to ash, Akkachi removed the ash and threw it in the bin. She then wet a dish cloth and wiped the floor. There was no sign of a letter from tante Ida.
I didn’t understand anything. My head and my heart felt heavy. I knew there is something terrible is going on. What it is I had no idea.
tante is the dutch word for aunty commonly used in Indonesia.

I noticed that my stats couner has over 10000 hits. When I started my blog and I wished one day I will have 100 visits. I never even thought that I would have 10,000 hits. So here is for all of you.
Thank you, nandi, terimah kasi, nandri,dhaniyavaadaalu,shukriya,domo,kiitos, Dank u wel and merci beaucoup for reading my blog

19 thoughts on “Letter..

  1. I remember playing with the stones.we would go looking for the smoothest ones.I sometimes miss my best friend.They would also say if a crow was sitting by your wall and cawing there would be a visitoe.I remember looking up to see if there were any crows around.

  2. oh my goodness…..I remember the stone-game, those were the days I played with my best friends, the stones are at first very rough then they all got ‘smooth’ as we continued playing…….so sad, now I lost all my childhood friends, so sad!

  3. oh thatz a sad letter to read sarah…

    in japanese it is arigato (thanks) 🙂

    keep on writing, you have so many admirers.
    i couldnt comment last few days cuz i was out, but now i have read them all, from nellika to the letter,, cant afford to miss any!

  4. Ah! so what I commented on earlier when your mother went to Bangalore and returned late is becoming correct!
    It was obvious->happy mother when hubby not home and blaming children..
    I admire your guts to write this in public assuming Methran Thampi and others are not long forgotten plp.TO write abt ones own mother who was not a role model must be a relief..
    Read Balanchandran Chullikad’s (world famous mallu poet) “Chidambara Smaranakal”..he writes everything..how he lusted after women even after he was married..but it doesnt become pornography because he writes with repentance..remember his wife and teenage son are still living with him a happy family..


  5. congrats Sarah !!! but obviously it came as no surprise, since ur such an exceptionally skilled writer…. i seriously hope that u publish ur work… :o)) All the very best to you…
    i can imagine how it must be at tht age to go thru all that and not understand completely watz happening arnd u

  6. so the myna story really works!hmmm I keep seeing one lone one in my garden!
    It’s a pretty bird,i love watching it hop around.
    And congratulations on the 10,000 hits….may it hit another 10,000 real soon so we can make pal paysam 🙂

  7. Congratulations!!! The hits speaks volumes about your ‘straight from the heart’ writing.

    I guessed as much what Amma was upto, and you have narrated it so well 🙂

  8. Thanu: 2 for letters.. very sure.. but can’t remember wht 3 birds brought!!! There are no mynas here..only crows!! and I imgine that they are mynas..if I see one crow, I will look around to see another one and would say”innu ezhuthu varum”.. but never worked!

    Starrynights: The cawing of the crow!!it is true, because ever time when it did that, Ammachi would ask Chakki to cook extra rice and we sure had visitors!!!

    mnuts: Don’t know why… I too lost all my childhood friends..Don’t even know where they are all now..

    Shankari: U seems to know my mother well.. We used to call her CBI

    Rocksea: My good Japanese neighbour in Malaysia told me it is arigato formally and domo informally!!.. May be she was trying to tease me! and thank you for such a lovely comment

    Jac: Ammachi, chakki Akkachi all said irkkunnathinu mumbe kaalu neettaruthu ennu.. I am pretty happy with the 10,000 hits, considering the fact that my english sucks and apart from the 20000 word thesis, I never wrote anything like this before!

    Adrika: Oh Adrika.. that was a nice comment

    Displaced: I haven’t read any of the malayalam books, because I don’t understand the kadichapottatha words..

    Sk: Thank you for such a lovely comment. Exceptional writer.. me?? My grammer itself is kaput!

    Chandu: Thank you…Do you remember the song.. Alapuzhakkaran keshavanangale enikkoru kudam thozha venam!!!
    There was also another para song for the vanchippattu that I am trying to recollect.. It starts with someone going on the boat and the falling in to the water and loses his mundu and then the song goes
    thappikkoda, thappikkoda kitum vare thappikko..

    maya: Pal payasam? I wish i could have big bowl full of Ambalpuzha pal payasam.

    Siverine: Thank you, it was hard..

  9. You reminded me of the myna thing..I dont know why but I still blv in it. Do you know you can pinch someone else to pass on the sorrow if you see only one mynah?

    Thank you Sarah for writing your stories !

  10. inji penne: Oh, I still believe that. I was at the park this morning and I saw 2 robins hopping around.
    I thought abt the mynas and at one point in my life how I used look everywhere to see 2 mynas, just so I would get a letter from..u know!

    How I would curse myself for seeing a lone myna, knowing very well that I would get a dose from amma tht evening! I never knew I could pinch someone else and my bad luck would vanish.. Aiyyaa..lost so much of opportunities to pinch my sisters!!!

  11. ya, domo arigato gosaymasu means thank you very much. domo here stands for ‘very much’. but people usually use just domo informally as you said..


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