I stood near my window waiting for Amma. I was so angry with her. How dare she makes some stranger calls me Ninamol? Doesn’t she know I am my father’s daughter.Or that I am Methran Thambi’s grand daughter? I kept looking at the gate and at the clock. It was going to be 8pm. Where is my mother? How can she just disappear like that, leaving 3 girls alone at home?
I switched on the corner light. So she won’t walk in the darkness. Within minutes 1000’s of rain flies started coming towards the light.
“Liza, shut the doors and windows. There are rain flies outside. They will all follow the light and come inside. Make sure you keep something at the bottom of the door in your bedroom, so the flies won’t see the light through that”
I was just going to check all the windows and doors and I heard the sound of the gate being opened and I watched my mother entering the house. When I saw her my anger increased a 100 fold. My heart was beating out of control.I clenched my teeth to control my temper. I was waiting for this moment. I was waiting to give it back to Amma for all the times she hurt me.
From the distance I could see that she was holding something in her hand. As she reached the corner light, I saw her struggling with a big brown paper bag of rice and another newspaper wrapped bundle of bananas. I watched Amma changing the items in her hand. She kept the rice packet in the crook of her left hand and the bananas on top of the rice packet, so she could stretch her right arm. Suddelnly the packet of bananas dropped out from the top of the rice packet. At that very moment my hatred an anger for my mother vanished. My poor mother is struggling to raise 4 daughters alone in a country far away from her birth. She only has me. I ran out of the house and met my mother half way between the gate and the courtyard. When I reached Amma, she was bending down and placing the bananas back in the newspaper. I helped her to wrap it back.
“Aiyya, I stood near the street light and checked and made sure all the bananas are good before I bought it from the night trader. Now you see, they all fell down and are squashed. Tomorrow, each of you will not eat it by saying that it is spoiled and rotten!”
“Never mind Amma, Give me one of the bags, I will help you carry it”
“You carry the bananas. The rice packet is too heavy for you”
That evening when I went to bed, I had no idea, what is right and what is wrong. What my mother is doing would certainly be wrong. But how do I tell her that? Hasn’t she been suffering that last 20 years with my mad father? How can I tell my mother what to do, when she didn’t even have a moment of peace and happiness with my dad? I wanted to be honest and righteous. Both won’t work in my house. There is no honesty or righteousness, when you are stuck in the sticky web of a marriage that should have never allowed to happen. Of all the people on planet earth,my parents chose each other. And now I am stuck right in the middle.
When I came back from school Amma looked at me. A look that spoke a 1000 words. She needed answers from me, but she didn’t have a single question. I had questions for her, but I didn’t ask her, because I knew the answers as well.
“How was school Nina?”
“Oh good Amma. I managed to get all the answers right for the biology class exam. But maths!” I shook my head and told her”Maths not good. Aleyamma teacher told me, I have all the qualifications to be the next women prime minister of India”
“Why did she say like that?” Amma asked me
“Well, Apparently only Nina Thomas can still write 1+1=1 and 1×1=2. She says that is the most important criteria to be a prime minister.”
Amma was laughing. “Your father and your sisters are so good in maths. How come you still struggle?”
It was at the tip of my mouth to tell her’ may be Appa isn’t my father?’. I quickly bit my tongue so I won’t speak.
“I think may be it is a good idea for you to go for maths tuition”
“True Amma, I think I need help with maths”
“There is a pattaru(tamil brahmin) maths teacher near the Thirunakkara temple. Why don’t you meet me tomorrow at my work place? We will go together and see him”