After my riding lessons I came home to find Maria and Amma discussing with Acha. I don’t trust my mother when it comes to making a decision. So I sat outside in the verandah, pretending to read the paper, so I could hear what they are talking. I know, Maria has already received 2 offer from the companies that came to her University for campus interview.
“What is your plan, Maria?” Acha asked her
“I want to go to US to study. I want to do master’s degree”
“That is a good idea” Acha agreed
‘phew!, I was relieved. I felt I don’t have to stick around and listen to the rest of the conversation. Anyway, Acha is well educated. He will make the right choices. I got up from the chair and I heard
“Would your father be supporting you financially?” Acha asked
“I don’t know!” Maria was not sure.
“You can’t got to US without any financial security Maria. It is not like India, where you can survive even with 1000RS/month. You need money for your books, accomodation, transport, even winter cloths. If you are not sure of your father’s financial help, then you are taking a big risk”
“What do you think Mary? Do you think he will send her money?” Acha asked Amma
“That man? He will rather, his daughters starve and die than spend money on their education”
It hurt, when Amma speak like that about my father. I know Appa can be mean. But he is my father and I wished Amma will stop speaking so badly about my father.
“Why don’t you work in India for couple of years, save money and then go to US”
“Maria, I think, That is a splendid idea” Amma spoke.
“I don’t know!” Maria answered. “All my friends are going to US and Uncle Geroge is there in New York. I am sure, if I need any help, he will certainly help me!”
“George? Our Dr. George? That henpecked doctor? Oh Maria, He needs his wife’s permission to pee!. I stayed with them, when I went to New York. I don’t know how he lives with that woman. She is the one who wears pant in their house and there is no way, she will give you money. She is so stingy. When I was there in september, she decided they will observe the 8 day lent. You know why?” Acha asked chechy
“no” Chechy shook her head
“Because, they didn’t want to cook meat!. Meat is expensive!. I had kanji and payaru(porridge) everyday for dinner! They never even go to church, because she doesn’t want to put money in the offertory and imagine them observing the lent!” “Besides, how are you going to cope with racism?”
“What racism?” Chechy asked
“Don’t you know, they target Asian woman there? I saw it myself. This Indian lady, wearing saree and pottu, was walking down the road. Two punks came and pushed her off the pavement in to the road. She missed the front wheel of the bus by a millimeter”
“How can they do that? Why did they do that?
“Well, they think the Indians are taking all their jobs, which is true in a way. They don’t like Indians. They call them ABCD’s”
“ABCD’s? What is that?” Maria asked
“American Born Confused Desi” Acha was laughing.
I wish I knew this earlier, then I could have called my cousins ABCD, when they called me Turkey.
“Then what happend?” Maria asked Acha
“You mean to the lady?” Acha asked her
“Yes”Maria nodded her head
” No one bothered to help her. Everyone is afraid of the punks. Eventually, the driver of the bus had to get down and help her to get up. She was bleeding from the wound in her head. So the driver called 911 and the ambulance came to take her to the hospital”
“What about the punks?”
“Who knows, they just ran away. The cops over there, protect their own kind!”
I didn’t know racism was that bad in US. I didn’t want anyone to hurt my big sister.
“Tell you what Maria, why don’t you join my company? Work for me for couple of years and I will get the company to send you to US on full scholorship”
‘Wow!. Full scholorship! I was happy for Maria. Finally she gets everything she wanted. She is safe in Acha’s company and in a few years, she will go to US’
Friday evening I watched the maid packing Acha’s bags
“Why are you packing his bag?” I asked her
“He is going home to Chickamagalore today!”
I watched the maid packing new sarees and salwars that Acha bought for his wife and daughter.
Only then I realized, he does have another family. Much as I wanted, he isn’t my father. He is somebody’s father. I couldn’t understand, why everybody else gets everything better and I am the only one who gets the crumbs under the table.