Before I was consumed by the desire to become a doctor, now after speaking to Ammachi, I was afraid. I was no longer sure what I wanted to do. Anyone can become a doctor. All it takes is hard work. Is that what I wanted?
I thought of all the things I wanted to achieve. Honestly all I really, really wanted was to leave home. I wanted to be able to live without worrying about my mother and sisters. I wanted to be free of the burdens I carry.
I desparately wanted to speak to someone, discuss my options and make the right decision. I so very badly wanted to speak to Amma, but she was always busy. Finally on saturday morning, I saw that Amma was reading the news paper. I felt it is a good time to go and ask her.
“Amma can I talk to you?” I asked her
“Oh Nina, I just sat down. You children won’t let me sit down and rest for a minute. Can’t you see how much I am struggling? Do I ask you for any help? All you ever do is to move your butt from the bed to the dining chair.”
I was so mad at my own stupidity, thinking that Amma would help me to make the right decision. I should have known my mother. Without saying another word, I walked back to my room
“What is that you want to talk Nina?”
“Oh nothing Amma”
“One minute they say they want to talk, the next minute they say “oh nothing”. What is wrong with all of you?”
I didn’t bother to respond. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do. I am going to do medicine. I am not going to live with Amma. I needed to get out of this mad house.
I took my physics text book and started to revise. I flipped the pages of the text book and realized that, I hardly studied anything in that book. What if I failed the pre-degree exam? I consoled myself saying’whatever has to happen will happen!’. I started to by heart all the formulas.
“Nina, I am going out ‘over there’ for a little while. Rice and curry are on the kitchen counter. Make sure your sisters do their home work and study”
I didn’t even bother to say ‘ok’ to Amma. She didn’t even wait to hear my response either.
As soon as Amma closed the gate, Liza ran in to my room
“Nina, Amma is gone, can we play Lexicon card?”
“Don’t you have homework?” I asked her
“I promise, I will do it later, Please Nina, can we play?”
Anyway I was bored reading Newton’s law.
“Ok, go get the cards”
“Sally, Nina said we can play the Lexicon cards, get the english dictionary, othewise Nina will cheat us!”
“I never cheat you guys!”
“Ofcourse you do, you always create new words, I don’t trust you any more”
We sat down at the dining table.
“I will deal the cards” I spoke.( ofcouse I know which cards are the vowels, because I did make a small mark on the right hand corner of all those cards!)
“No, I will” Liza spoke
“Then I am not playing. I started to get up
“Liza please, Give the cards to Nina” Sally begged
“Not fair, she always get to deal the cards” Grudgingly she passed me the cards. When I came across a vowel that I wanted, I asked
“Did you hear any sound?”
“What sound?” Both of them asked in unison and I placed the card in my pile.
“You cheated Nina, I saw you keeping a card in your pile. That card is supposed to be mine. See I have three cards, you have 5. You are a cheat Nina”
“Oh, I am sorry. I made a mistake” grudgingly I handed her the vowel card. My sisters are getting too smart, I thought sadly
As we played the game, I did hear an auto rickshaw stopping outside our gate.
“Did you hear any sound?”
“Sally,Don’t look. She is trying to cheat us. She is waiting for us to turn our head to steal the cards”
“I am serious. I heard the auto stopping outside our gate!”
“yeah right, and you are deaf in one ear!” Liza spoke
Aiyyah How do I explain to my sisters that, sound in a certain frequency I can hear better than anyone else.
I heard someone opening the main gate.
“Wait here. let me go and check” I placed my cards face down on the table.
“Don’t you dare touch my cards” I warned them
I opened the door and walked towads the main gate. I watched the figure wearing a rust coloured Kashmiri shawl paying the fare to the rickshaw driver. ‘Who wears a shawl in Kerala?, I was about to laugh, till the person paid the money to the auto driver and turned to face me. In an instant everything stood still. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. The contrast was too much for me to bear. There was an ugly stranger standing there, who once was my beautiful older sister with hair almost reaching her butt. This stranger had rosy cheeks, blood red lipstick, huge shell framed speactacles that almost covered half of her face. Worst was her hair. It was now shoulder level, with the crown in tight curls and the rest straight. I thought, Gosh she looks like a kappiri kozhi.
Maria wakled past me, without even uttering a single word, as though I don’t exist any more. I walked behind her, trying to understand what is happening.
As soon as she entered the house, she found the lexicon cards on the table
“Who asked you to touch my Lexicon cards?” She screamed even before my sisters could greet her
“it is not your cards Maria. Amma bought it for all of us” Liza replied
“How dare you speak to me like that?” Before Liza could react, Maria was pulling her hair and hitting her
“Stop it Maria” I screamed.” What is wrong with you?” I pulled Maria away from Liza.
“Ouch” Liza was howling and I saw cluster of hair in Maria’s hands
“Nina, she pulled my hair” Liza was screaming
“I will pull every single tooth, if you are ever rude to me again, Do you understand that?”
“Wait till Amma comes back. I will tell her” Liza was rubbing her head and crying
“Do you think I care?” Maria was going back to hurt Liza again
I jumped in front of Maria
“You will not hurt her” I told her
“Who are you to tell me that?” She scratched me on my arms
“Why did you have to come? Why don’t you stay in Bangalore?” I was so mad
“I will do what I want to do. This is my home and I will come and go as I please” I watched her going to her room
I looked at my arms. There were 2 lines of scrath marks on my left hand. It was burning. I regretted having a sister. Why did God give us a sister like this?
Liza picked up the hair from the floor
“I am going to show this to Amma, My head is still hurting Nina” She pointed to the side of her head.
“Come here” I held her close to me and massaged her scalp. If only I had a brother, then he could have protected us from this vicious creature.
Amma normally comes back by 5pm, today there was no sign of her even at 6 pm. I was getting worried. I watched silently as Maria went through every single document in Amma’s cupboard. She checked Amma’s diary, Amma’s office files, finally she was checking Amma’s cupboard. I looked at the old suitcase by the side of the cupboard. If she opened that suitcase, I knew I will be dead meat. I had my escape route in my mind. If she opened that suitcase, I will run to Aunty Reena’s house. I was so relieved, when she closed the cupboard and didn’t bother to open the suitcase. She then went to my room and started to go through my books
“What are you doing?” I asked her
“What do you think I am doing?”
“You can’t touch my books”
“Really? Try stopping me”
I knew I couldn’t stop her. I heard someone opening the main gate and I was overwhelmed with a sense of relief. Atleast Amma will know what to do with Maria. I was just going to open the door for Amma and Maria pushed me.
“You are not opening the door” She pushed me away
“What?” I asked her
She didn’t respond.
Amma knocked at the door “Nina, open the door”
I tried to open and Maria pushed me away
“Amma, Maria won’t let me open the door” I screamed
“What time is it? Do you think, you can come and go any time you please ah? Is this an Inn? You are raising daughters for heavens sake! Don’t you even care?” Maria asked Amma
“Who are you to ask me that question Maria?” Amma screamed from outside
“You can stay out side then” Smiled the vicious Maria
Liza and Sally were screaming and crying and Maria was smiling.
“Open the door” Amma was kicking the door. I watched Maria putting all three bolts. She leaned on the dining table victoriously, knowing that, there is no way Amma can break the door open.
“Liza, go and open the kitchen door.” I ordered. Maria tried to run after Liza and I stopped her. I pushed her towards the wall and She started to hit me. I didn’t let go of my hands, but when she started to pull my hair and I let go. By the time Maria reached the kitchen, Amma was already inside.