As I walked out of the church that day after my succesful piano playing, I made up my mind. I felt good knowing that at such a young age, I could make up my own mind. After all I am world famous Methran Thambi’s grand daughter!.
When I reached home, Amma was talking to my sisters.
“Nina, Amma says we should learn to play the piano. She wants us to join the piano lessons at the church”. Liza spoke
Amma looked at me and told me
“If you can play, then I am sure your sisters can play as well. Take them with you when you go for practice.”
“Sorry Amma, the piano lessons are only for the choir members, if they want to learn, then they should join the choir”
“Then take your sisters with you when you go for the choir practice.”
‘Oh god, the church was the only place, that I had for myself. Wihtout worrying about Amma and my sisters. It was my haven. Now I have to take my sisters with me. Why Lord, why are you making me suffer like this?. I felt sorry for questioning the Lord right away. I am supposed to bear the cross and win the crown. Not question.’ I quietly walked to my room and prayed silently asking for forgiveness.
Next Saturday, I got ready on time.
“What dress shall I wear Nina?” Sally asked me
“Wear any dress, Hurry up Liza we are late.”
“Oh Nina, you are always yelling. I don’t like you when you yell”
“You don’t have to like me, Nobody is forcing you to like me. Hurry up, Achakuttichayan will scold you if you are late”
I saw Liza was already dressed.
“Liza come let us go”
“What shoes do I wear Nina”
“Oh God, wear any shoes you want. You are not getting married today. For heavens sake it is only a choir practice”
“You are always screaming. I am not coming with you Nina. You are a nasty mean sister” Liza sat on her bed
“Ok suit yourself”
I started to walk. I closed the main door and I was just going to lock the main gate when I saw both my sisters running out side.
“Wait Nina, we are coming with you”
“Go close the main door” I yelled
“Why don’t you close the door?” Liza asked me. There are moments, I wanted to kill my mother. It is a saturday and she vanished in the morning itself, expecting me to take care of my sisters. If she wanted them to go for the choir practice, she should make sure, they are ready. I was so mad.
I quickly opened the gate, went back inside the house, closed all the doors and walked out, closed the main gate and I started to run. I was 15 minute late already.
By the time we reached the church, the practice has already started. I told my sisters
“Wait here, after the practice, I will introduce you to Achakuttichayan. I made them sit in one of the benches close to where the choir sits. Everyone was looking at me. I quietly walked to my seat.
“Nina Thomas, come here” I heard Achakuttichayan yelling
‘ok, here we go. I will have to listen to another 10 minutes of lecture about being late, and how all because of the sheer tardiness of every single Indian citizen, the country is never doing well in the international sector. IST doesn’t mean Indian Stretchable Time, it means Indian Standard Time. I walked quietly to where Achakuttichayan was standing. I wondered would he get mad, if I tell him, Indian standard time doesn’t apply to me, because I am a Malaysian!’
I stood in front of Achakuttichayan. I looked at him, trying to tell him, ‘ok, I am ready for the lecture.’
There was pin drop silence in the church. Every single choir member was looking at me. I wasn’t scared. What is there to be scared for being late for 25 minutes? actually may be about 30 minutes. Why can’t people understand, that nobody really wanted to be late. It is the certain situations like having annoying sisters that might make you late.I thought to myself. I looked over to see my sisters. Both of them looked like they have either fallen in to a tub of cold water or they saw a ghost. Relax, I wanted to tell them. Achakuttichayan is not going to eat me. Brave Nina looked at Achakuttichayan again.
“Where were you in the last one week?”
I looked at Achakuttichayan, because I was momentarily off my balance. I was expecting a lecture about Indian standard time.
“Why? have you swallowed your tongue?” He screamed at me.
All of a suddent it occured to me, I am getting in to trouble for something else.
Achakuttichayan looked around to all the choir members and spoke
“Some people think that one succesful concert makes them the world’s best pianist. She had one good session and She stopped practising. She didn’t come on monday,not on tuesday or the rest of the week. Before that she came for practice everyday for 2 hours.”
Achakuttichayan looked at me and spoke
“you think you are smart? you think you can play the piano well, just because you played one song well?”
I didn’t respond. I wanted to tell him so badly that I am not interested in playing the piano again. I played only to hear my mother say that I am good. That didn’t happen. There is no use walking so much each day and attending the practice sessions.
I could see Anju and the gang laughing at me. They were jealous after my performance on sunday and now they are happy because I am getting roasted right in the middle of all the choir members.
“For your attitude you will be punished. You will play all the all the scales for 2 hours everyday for the next one week. Do you understand that Nina?”
I nodded my head and said”yes”
“Go and sit in your place” He ordered.
As I walked back to my seat, I could see the happiness on all my friend’s face. They were glad that I got scolded and punished.
That evening when Amma came back, Liza was waiting for her by the gate. I didn’t bother
“Amma, Achakuttichayan scolded Nina today in front of everyone” Liza screamed even before Amma opened the main gate and entered. I watched my sister telling my mother the whole story excitedly. I wanted to ask Amma, why Liza could scream and tell her things, while she got angry with me, when I told her about Achakuttichayan asking me to play the piano 2 weeks ago. I went back to my room.
“Nina” I heard Amma calling me
I slowly went out of my room and went to the dining room. Amma was putting her hand bag on top of the fridge.
“Is it true?” She asked me
“Is what true?” I asked her.
“That you got scolded today?”
“Because I stopped playing the piano”
“You stopped playing? Whose permission did you take before you decided to stop playing?
“I don’t need anyone’s permission” I told her
“How dare you speak like that to me?”
“This is my hand, I will decide what I want to do with my hands. You will not tell me what I should do” I was waiting for a moment to take it on my mother. I was so glad to be defiant, so glad to hurt her.
I don’t really remember the exact moment my mother stopped hitting me. I stood there for her to finish her assaults. It ended with her telling me
“You will go for practice tomorrow” and me telling her
“You can’t make me”
I went back to my room, I could hear Amma telling my sisters, “She still get motta (zero marks) for all her exams, I thought at least she would get a job in the church as a piano player. I am sure she will fail her 10th standard exams. What future would she have, if she can’t even pass her 10th? Atleast you guys are intelligent. I don’t have to worry about the three of you. Maria is already doing so well. Why Lord, did I give birth to that child’
I too asked the same thing
“Why Lord did you allow me to be born?”