Amma didn’t even call me to eat food that day. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t believe me. I thought of the all the incidents that happend after we were introduced to him. I thought of the times Amma hit me. Then I remembered the time she slapped me.
I had to go for French tuition in Kalathipady junction which was 2o minutes away from where I lived. My tuition was from 5.30 to 6.30pm. There was only one bus from Kalathipady to Kottayam at 6.45pm. The next bus was at 7.30 pm. I always made sure that, I wouldn’t miss the 6.45pm bus, because towards night, there are more men travel by bus than woman and it isn’t safe.
That day, my tuition teacher was celebrating her son’s birthday.
“Nina stay for few minutes and eat the cake before you go” She told me after the lessons
“No, Madam, I will miss the bus and I will be late”
“Nina, there is a bus at 7.15 pm and I will wait with you at the bus stand”
I couldn’t resist a piece of cake and I stayed back and took the 7.15 pm bus. There were hardly any female passengers in the bus and all the women’s only seats were occupied by men. some of them were whistling at me and passing rude jokes. I was so angry with myself for staying back, just to eat a piece of cake, instead of leaving on time.
I was relieved when the bus reached Collectorate junction. When I was geetting down from the bus, I saw Amma standing there. I was so happy to see her. Amma came towards me and slapped me infront of everyone at the bus stand and asked me
“Where were you till now?”
I didn’t understand why she slapped me. Everyone around us was looking at me.
“I went for my french tuition Amma” I spoke indignantly
“Really? Amma sniffed around my body “Then why does your hair smell cigarette smoke?”
I didn’t know why my hair smelled of cigarette. I didn’t smoke. I tried to explain to her about the birthday party at the teacher’s house. Amma didn’t listen and she pulled my hand and dragged me home. If Amma got upset with me then, why didn’t she trust me now? Then it occured to me, I am the sacrificial lamb. I was my mother’s offering to her god.
I wanted to teach her a lesson. Wait till the morning. I will teach her a lesson. I knew what I am going to do.
When I woke up in the morning, my head was hurting, yet I was calm. This was my day to teach Amma a lesson. I wrote a letter to my father. I wrote only one sentence.
‘You were never there, when I needed you”
I wrote another letter to Sally
“Whatever happend to me, you were never at fault. I want you to study and do well in life” I didn’t want my baby sister to think that she was in anyway responsible for what happend to me.
I had nothing to write to Liza or Maria. I kept both the letters in the drawer, between all my college notes. I knew Amma would go through my notes, the moment I am out of the house. She thinks that I am hiding some state secret and systematically goes through my personal items. I didn’t want her to find the letters today. I wanted her to find the note tomorrow, by then it will be too late. I wanted her heart to cry, that she didn’t get a letter from me.
My classes starts at 9.30 AM and I got ready as usual. I didn’t bother to say bye to Amma. I walked out, with my head held high. Today, Methran Thambi’s grand daughter will have the last laugh. I walked past the parade ground, past the lawyers offices. Normally, I should take left to go to my college. Today I took the right. I walked down the road, pass the MT seminary school. There was an immense satisfaction knowing that I could punish my mother in the most beautiful way. I could see her pretend tears, her crocodile tears.
When I reached the railway station, I looked for the auto driver who sang the kannade nee enne song the last time I was there. I wanted him to be the part of the farewell. I thought of him saying sadly
“Ayyoda, ethiney alley njan annu kaliakkiye. Kashtam, pavam kochu”
He wasn’t there. I laughed at my own stupidity thinking about the odds in finding an auto driver among all the auto drivers in Kottayam. Some train had arrived and there were absolute chaos infront of the station. I saw a man getting out of the auto and helping his mother to get out. She wore white chatta and mundu.I watched him asking the porter
“Chetta, Did Jayanthi arrive already?”
“Aiyyo Mone, Jayanthi is about to leave now. Run along. Don’t waste your time to buy the ticket. Tell the TTE (travelling ticket examiner) that you didn’t get time to buy the ticket and he would understand”
“Ammachi va(come)” I watched the man holding his mother’s hand and walking quickly. I too followed. I too have an Ammachi, even if she doesn’t want me, she never ceases to be my Ammachi.
It was the first time in my life, I travelled without a ticket. I was petrified. I thought of all the possible excuses I would give the TTE. I found a seat and I sat down. from where I sat, I could see the connecting door that connects one bogie to another. I kept looking at the door to see if the TTE is coming. Everytime a tea/coffee seller came through the connecting door, my heart missed a beat.
Finally when the train reached Chengannur station, I was the first passenger out. I still had one obstacle. The dreaded ticket collector. There were many passengers near the entrance. I smiled at the ticket collector and told him
“My Amma is waiting behind the queue with the tickets. I am going to get an auto”
he nodded his head and I ran out holding my heart in my hand. I had no money to take a bus, so I walked, past Ammachi’s and mine favourite parippuvada shop near the corner of the main road and railway station road. Chengannur hasn’t changed a bit in the last 6 years. I wondered what Ammachi would say, when she sees me. When I reached the junction near my home, I looked for Mathai Chettan. There was no sign of him. I loooked at the thattukada(corner shop) to see if Mathai Chettan is sleeping infront of the shop. The man who runs the shop came out, when he saw me. He was staring at me and I smiled at him. There was no way Unnichettan would forget me, after all I am the one who asked him for peda pazham, When he said, there are no more poovanpazham.
“Nina, is that you?”
I smiled and nodded my head.
“Did you get any peda pazham?”
“Go, Unnichetta, Stop teasing me”
“Why didn’t you come home all these days? Your Ammachi never stopped talking about you”
“I am home Unnichetta, I am finally home.”
I couldn’t wait to meet my Ammachi.
“I will see you later Unnichetta” I ran down the slope, where Appa used to hold me. I tried to see if I could spot a bit of the thatched roof of my home. I couldn’t.