“You will never do well in your life. I swear on that”. I was stunned to hear such a curse from Amma on the most important day in my life.
“Amma, please don’t curse me before I go”
“Don’t curse you? I curse the day you were born. You brought so much misery in to my family. I curse that you will get motta(zero marks) for your SSLC.(secondary school leaving certificate)”
I couldn’t beleive my ears. My own mother cursed me on the first day I joined 10th standard, All because I said I will not be able to drop and fetch my sisters from their school. 10 standard is very difficult and I wanted to concentrate on my studies. Amma didn’t want to fetch my sisters from school, if she had to fetch my sisters, then she would have to come home early.
As I left home on that rainy day I wondered if Amma’s curse would work? What would happen to me if I fail the 10th standard exam? I couldn’t even imagine the scenario. I had no choice but to do well. I, Nina Thomas have to show my mother, her curses don’t work. I was determined. So was my mother.
When I came back from school in the evening Amma was home with my sisters. I could smell from the gate that Amma was making ullivada (onion fritters). I was excited. I love to eat ullivada(onion fritters). Just as I entered the house, I heard Amma telling my sisters
“Eat fast and finish the food before Nina comes”
I stood near the door step, because I couldn’t move. I suddenly understood, all those times my sisters said Amma made food for them when I was at the church, they were not lying. I could feel something getting stuck in my throat. I didn’t understand how a mother can do such things. I thought of all the times she told me when I was little that she barter traded me with a kilo of rice at the market, because she felt sorry for me. I was sure I was an orphan. That is why Amma treats me like this. That is why nobody wanted me. That is why nobody loves me.
From the living room door, I could see Amma splitting each fritters and blowing it to cool down, so my sisters can eat it fast. I quietly walked to my haven. The only place where I was safe. I carefully placed my school bag on the floor and sat on top of it. I didn’t want my skirt to get stained with banana sap.
I imagined the day, I would find someone to love me, someone who would take me out of this house. I wanted so badly to be loved.
I must have sat there a long time. I could hear my sisters playing in the court yard. I quietly walked out of the thicket.
When I entered the house Amma was sitting at the dining table
“This isn’t an Inn, where you walk in and out, when you choose. There are rules to follow” Amma was speaking
I walked to my room
“I am speaking to you” I heard her telling me
I ignored her
“Come back here Nina Thomas”
I slammed my bedroom door. Amma can go to hell. I was sure of that.
I could hear Amma knocking at my door
“Open the door”
I didn’t bother.
Amma kept of banging the door. She forgot that I am as stubborn as her. I refused to open the door.
A little while later, I heard Amma shouting
“You can stay there. Don’t bother to come out to eat your dinner”
I didn’t bother to respond. I was a bit worried, if I didn’t have my dinner, anything would happen to my soul?. Appa never let us children go to bed without supper. He used to say, ‘your soul would curse you, if you go to bed hungry’. I wished my father was around. he would never let Amma treat me like this. All this is my fate. I couldn’t change it.
I wanted to study. Amma and my sisters were watching the TV program. But today the Tv was considerably more louder than usual. I knew Amma had increased the volume just to annoy me. I tried to read my books, but there was no way I could concentrate. I tried to figure out my options. There was only one way. I would sleep when I come back from school, and I will wake up, when everyone goes to bed. In that way I can study peacefully. I switched on the alarm for 12 midnight and went to bed. I was very hungry. I still had some left over food in my lunch box. I quietly opened my lunch box. It was already stale. I couldn’t eat it. I apologized to my soul for going to bed hungrily.
I woke up at 12 midnight. There was absolute stillness. I was scared. But I had to study. I switched on the light in my room and took my books to read. I was still hungry and my stomach waas growling. I quietly opened my room and checked on my mother. She was sleeping soundly. I went to the kitchen in the darkness. I was afraid to switch on the light, lest Amma see the light and come and fight with me. I checked all the pots and pans that were on the kitchen counter. There was no food. Amma had washed everything. I opened the fridge. There was old rice in the fridge. I couldn’t find any curry and I was really hungry. I took the rice container from the fridge and closed the fridge. I was too scared to take a plate or even to switch on the gas and warm the rice. I sat on the floor, opened the container and ate the freezing cold rice straight from the container. I was a thief in my own home.