I checked the coins in the pouch over and over. May be I made a mistake in the calculation. 25+25+5+5+5+5. That is only 70 paise. I need 75 paise. I checked the pouch again, desperately praying ‘god please give me another 5 paise more, I promise I will donate 10% of the 1 lakh to poor people. God didn’t hear my prayer
I heard Amma opening the bathroom door
I cursed myself for my stupidity. Any moment now I will get caught for stealing money from her. I looked around the room. Trying to find a place to hide the coin pouch. I thought of placing it inside my desk drawer. I quickly walked towards my desk and tried to pull open the drawer. It was stuck. I pulled it hard and the whole thing fell down on my leg.
“What is that noise?” I could hear Amma running to my room. I pulled my leg from under the drawer and quickly hid the coin pouch under my pillow.
My legs were hurting and my big toe felt like it was on fire.I sat on my bed and started to cry
“Are you ok Nina? What happend here?” Amma surveyed my room and saw the drawer on the floor.
“How did that fall down?” She asked me
“It came out when I tried to open the drawer and my toe is hurting Amma.”
“Oh Nina, why are you not careful? Look at your big toe, you are going to loose the nail now.”
” Akkachi” Amma called out” go and fetch some communist pacha leaves”
“What happend chechy? why do you need the leaves?” Akkachi came to my room. When I saw Akkachi I cried even more louder. I couldn’t bear the pain anymore. My big toe was swollen and the toe nail was becoming blue.
“Oh Nina, what have you done? Come with me, I will put some ice on your toe”
Amma was sitting down on my bed, I didn’t want to get up. I was worried that Amma might lift my pillow and see her coin pouch under my pillow
“I can’t walk Akkachi, my leg is hurting”
“Come, I will carry you. You can soak your leg in a bucket of cold water. You will feel better.”
“Never mind Akkachi, I will sit here. You can bring the bucket here.”
“You know what is your problem Nina, you never listen to those who are older than you. You have a mind of your own. Now listen to me and stop arguing.”
I knew Akkachi is mad at me and I didn’t want to argue with her. I slowly lifted my hands and she carried me.
I casually looked over Akkachi’s shoulder at my pillow to see, if any part of the Amma’s coin pouch is visible. It wasn’t and I prayed silently
‘parumala thirumeni, Please don’t allow Amma to check under my pillow’.
Akkachi took the ice cubes from the fridge and placed them in the red bucket. She then filled the bucket up to the middle with water.
” Soak your leg in the cold water Nina, I hope you haven’t broken your bones, you are a walking disaster! Look at the nail, the base is already turning blue. You will loose the nail now!, Why can’t you be careful Nina?”
“I was careful Akkachi, I was just trying to open the drawer and it fell down on its own. I didn’t make it fall down”
“Just like how you accidentally fell down from the fence wall, right? You were careful right? the wall made you fall right?”
I was angry with Akkachi. I was planning to buy a jimikki earring for her and look at the way she is mocking me. I am not going to talk to her. I lifted my leg out of the bucket and walked back to my room.
“I don’t want to soak anymore. I am going to bed, I don’t want dinner also.”
“If you don’t want to soak your leg, don’t do it. it is your leg that is painful, not mine. Don’t eat your dinner if you don’t want. I am not going to beg anyone to eat dinner.”
“I know” I muttered
I went back to my room and laid down on the bed. When everyone is asleep I will go and put the coing pouch back in Amma’s handbag. I regretted not saving money. I regretted paying the offeratory at the church on sunday. Amma gave me 10 paise last sunday. I should have just pretended to place the money in the offeratory box. Who would have noticed if I put the money or not. Any way why does the church need so much money?
I suddenly felt like I was floating.
‘Where am I going’ I wondered. It was funny at the same time it felt wonderful flying over the white fluffy clouds. I tried to touch the clouds. They felt like cotton candy, not sticky though. ‘Wow I am a bird!!!’ I thought
Soon I reached a huge golden gate.
‘My goodness, that gate sure must have costs a fortune!’ I thought
“She is here” I heard someone talking
“huh”, ‘who is she’ I thought.
“Send her in” I heard someone else speaking
I watched a man appoaching the gate and opening the door. He wore a shiny crown on his head and he had wings
‘Aiyya, What kind of creature is this? Why is he wearing a crown on his head and where did he get a wing?’
“Go inside” He ordered
I slowly walked inside. There were too many people, all had wings and crowns. I spotted Methran Thampi and his wife sitting side by side in golden chairs.
I was glad to see Methran Thampi finally. I have tried to ask his wife many times how he died?. She never told me. She always tells me that “he died one day”. Atleast now I will have a chance to ask him.
“Johnny bring her here”
‘Johnny, that is Methran Thampi’s brother. He passed away long time ago. I was so happy to see Johnny Appachan.
“Nice to meet you Johnny Appachan”. I told him. He pretended he didn’t hear
‘Ok, if you want to act big, go ahead. enna game ah everkokke’. I spoke to myself
I stood in front of Methran Thampi. I glanced at his wife,my Ammachi and smiled at her. She didn’t even smile at me. Ammachiukkum game ayo? I wondered.
“Oh, so this is Nina Thomas, my grand daughter!.”
“Yes Appacha”. I was finally so happy to meet my grandfather
“What are her sins Johnny?” He looked at his brother
“She stole money from her mother”.
“I didn’t steal, I tried to steal, but I didn’t take take the money, because there was not enough money.”
“Stealing and thinking about stealing are the same” Roared Methran Thampi
“No it isn’t. It is two different things” I argued
“See, I told you Appachan, she has a mind of her own.”. I looked around to see Akkachi. She too had a golden crown and wings.
‘What is this? Fancy dress competition? Everyone wearing matching dresses, crowns and wings?’ I wondered
“I don’t have a mind of my own. I am telling you the truth, yes I tried to borrow money from Amma, I would have paid her back the moment I won the lottery”
“Ha ha ha ha,”Laughed Methran Thampi.”How do you know you will win the lottery?
“That is what the ticket seller sings everyday.
I sang the song
“oru roopa nottu koduthal
oru laksham koode poorum”. (Pay 1 RS today, RS 1Lakh will follow you)
“No” I heard someone else screaming. I turned around to see the ticket seller standing behind me. I looked at his legs. He has both legs now.
“How did you manage to get a new leg?” I asked him
He ignored me and spoke to Methran Thampi
“That is not how I sing my song, I sing like this
“oru roopa nottu koduthal
oru laksham chilappol porum”(Pay 1 Rs and the 1 lakh may follow you home)”
“He is lying, I hear the song every day. That isn’t how he sings”
“She is lying” The ticket seller spoke
“Shut up” Roared Methran Thampi.
“What is the punishment for stealing?” He asked everyone in the room
“Burn her, burn her burn her” Everyone was yelling and screaming
“Those who agree to burn her, wash your hands” I saw Methran Thampi washing his hand by dipping in a golden bowl. He then gave the bowl to his wife.
“You are not going to agree to burn me, Are you?” I asked Ammachi
Ammachi didn’t even look at me. She too washed her hands. I couldn’t believe it. I watched Akkachi, Johnny Appachan and the lottery ticket seller washing their hands. Soon everyone in the whole room washed their hands. I saw someone bringing a huge Chinese wok.
“Don’t burn me, please don’t burn me”, I screamed
“Nina wake up, wake up, ” I felt someone shaking me
I opened my eyes to see Amma standing next to my bed.
“Are you ok Nina? Why are you screaming? Are you having a nightmare?”
I nodded my head. “I had a bad dream Amma”
“What did you dream?” She asked me
I can’t remember Amma”. I didn’t want to tell her my dream
“Why don’t you pray before you go to bed? then you won’t get any night mare”
“I will Amma”.
“Now pray and go back to bed, I have to go to work in the morning”
I watched Amma going back to her room. I waited for her to lay down on her bed. I took the coin pouch from under my pillow and tip toed to the living room. I took Amma’s handbag and placed the pouch bag.
‘It is ok, if I don’t have a magical ruler. I don’t want to be burned. I promised myself, I will never ever steal anything for the rest of my life.
which I have followed to this day.