“How can it be? How can he do this to me? How does he expect to get all of you married off? Sally is only 10 years old, what am I going to do? Oh Lord, why are you punishing me like this?” Amma started to cry.
I wanted to hold her and hug her, but I couldn’t, because I was afraid that she might push me away.
What was Appa thinking anyway? He can just walk away like that? What about us, don’t we mean anything to him? Doesn’t he know we are girls? Who will marry a girl from a broken family? I was so angry with my father. I hated to think that I adored and loved this man, who now wants to cut us off from his life. I wish I could tell Appa, how much I hate him!
“No, I won’t let him do this to me. I will fight that bastard. He isn’t going to walk away just like that” I watched Amma getting up and wiping the tears off her face. She looked really angry and I didn’t say a word.
I watched her picking up the phone and dialling. I sat down on the chair and watched her. I wanted to be there, if she needs me.
I knew Amma was calling up the ‘godman’ in Bangalore. I watched her explaining the whole situation about the divorce petition and the eviction notice. I heard her telling him
“I will retire in another 1 1/2 years. I have to stay here till then to be eligible for full pension”
Godman must have told Amma something, as I watched her turning around and looking at me and said “hmm” over the phone.
Suddenly the conversation started to be one sided with Amma saying”hmm” every few seconds.
Then she covered the mouth piece and looked at me
“Why are you sitting here? You are trying to get all the information and give it to your father ah?”
I looked at her stunned.
“huh?” I asked
“Oh Nina, stop acting dumb. I know you. You are on your father’s side. You always liked him and I am sure both of you have planned all these. What is he giving you? Chengannur property?”
I got up slowly. I didn’t know who I should hate anymore. How can Amma even think that, I will snitch on her? She is my mother for heaven’s sake! I was so upset. I went to my room. Few minutes later I heard footsteps and when I looked up, I saw Amma’s body swiftly moving across the corridoor. I knew she was spying on me. I looked at the clock. I still had another 2 hours to catch the train to Bangalore. I didn’t want to stay at home anymore. I grabbed my bag and walked out. I didn’t bother to say goodbye to Amma.
I walked past the parade ground. There is a short cut to the railway station near the catholic church. I decided to take that. Few minutes later it occured to me that, I am in no hurry to reach the railway station. I might as well take the long and winding road. I turned back and saw someone that looked like Liza trying to hide behind the church wall. I guess she didn’t expect me to turn around.
‘Is it Liza? Why is she following me?’ I wanted to know
I walked quickly to where she was hiding. The moment she saw me, she started to run and I ran after her and caught her hand
“What are you doing Liza? Why are you following me?”
“Let me go” She tried to break free.
“No” I screamed at her. “Answer me Liza, why are you following me? Did Amma ask you to follow me?”
“Let me go” She bit my hand and I let go off her. I watched her running back towards home. Amma must have send her to spy on me.
My heart felt so heavy. I felt so alone. Nothing I ever did was right. My family hates me, my classmates hates me. I had no one, not one person to tell me that they love me.
Maria hates me because Appa loves me, Amma hates me because Appa loves me, Appa hates me because he thinks I love Amma and now Amma has turned my youngest sisters too against me. What kind of thaleyvara (fate) is this?
I wanted to run away, far away from everyone and start my life all over. May be one day, I will find a man, who will help me to get out of this nightmare. May be one day I will find someone, who will love me. All I ever wanted was to have someone to love me for what I am. I dreamed of the day I can be happy. I dreamed of the day, I will get married and have lots of children. I promised myself, I will never let my chidlren go through any of these nightmares. I will never turn my kids against each other. I will be the best mother, they could ever get.
Though I was upset with whatever that was happening at home, I went back to Bangalore. I needed to study, that was the only way I could escape from my family.
Aparna and Shylaja was already in the room when I reached the hostel
“Did you bring me Black Halwa?” Aparna asked as soon as I entered the room.
“Sorry Aparna, I didn’t have time to get it. I will bring it next time”
“Oh, Ok” She shrugged her shoulder and went back to talk to Shylaja. They were discussing the things they did, during the holidays. I was glad that Aparna wasn’t upset.
I was all sweaty and dirty, so I decided to go and have my shower. I took the change of clothes, soap and the bucket and walked to the bathroom. I collected the hot water from the heater and I realized, I didn’t bring my shampoo. I walked back to my room to take the shampoo. Just as I reached the door I heard Aparna speak
“Nina is so stingy No? She didn’t have time to buy Halwa, as though it takes so much time. Do you really think her father really works for the British Government?”
“Nah, I don’t think so. If her father was so important, then how come he didn’t come to drop her to college? She came with her uncle, No?” Shylaja asked
“There is something fishy No? Why does her uncle and sister drop her to the college?” Aparna spoke
“I heard that her uncle is some big shot” Shylaja spoke
“You know what I think? I think, she must be that man’s illegitimate child. That is why, she was not dropped by her father. She is lying about her father working for the British government, by saying her father works overseas, she can always pretend that she really has a father!” Aparna spoke.
I wanted so badly to open that door and tell them both that, I really do have a real father. But what is the point now? My father doesn’t want me anymore. I went back to the bathroom. My bucket was still in the same place I had left it. I checked the water. It was tepid. I didn’t feel like throwing the water and filling the bucket with more hot water.
I dragged the bucket to the bathroom. I could hear Aparna’s words over and over in my head, that she thinks, the man I hate the most in my life is my father. I wanted to sit down. I looked around. The bathroom floor was wet. I threw the water from the bucket and turned it upside down. The bottom of the bucket was still wet. I didn’t bother. I sat on it. I looked at my right hand. I had exactly the same birth marks, my father has on his right hand. I remembered all the times, my cousins would ask Appa and me to show our birthmarks. One was a black mole on the upper arm and the other was a cafe au lait patch on the left side of the lower arm. I remembered how proud I was that only I had the same birthmarks as Appa and not my sisters. And now others even have doubt as to who is my father. How can I fight for a man, who doesn’t want me as his daughter?