Another letter

I was supposed to go back to Bangalore on Saturday 22 of October. I desperately wanted to see Appa before leaving.
“Amma can I go to Chengannur?”
“No. You are not going anywhere”
“Why not Amma?”
“Because I told you so”
“Amma, I want to see Appa” I pleaded
“Well, he is the one who walked away, I will make him come back. Let him come and see his children!”
I knew there is no point in arguing. I couldn’t sneak out and go to Chengannur either. If Amma ever knew I disobeyed her and went to Chengannur, she would kill me.

Deep in my heart I knew Appa will come home before I leave, even if I don’t go to Chengannur. He will want to see me. I am his favourite daughter anyway. I waited each day and on Friday I was certain Appa would come home that day. I got up early in the morning and went to sweep the courtyard. Amma came out to get the newspaper and she found me sweeping
“Oh, cleaning the house trying to impress your father eh?
I ignored her
“He is not going to come Nina. You are wasting your time!” She spoke again
“How do you know?”I asked her
“See this?” She pulled the thali chain on her neck.” The day he tied the noose around my neck, I learned. Your father is sadistic. He enjoys hurting others. Actually I can’t blame him, It is all your grandmother’s fault. She should have raised her son well”
“What do you mean it is Ammachi’s fault? She raised him all by herself after Appachan died! how can it be Ammachi’s fault Amma?”
“You are supporting that nasty woman? Do you know what she did? The other day I went to a sorcerer and he told me, your grandmother did ‘black magic’ on chechy, that is why she is not getting any marriage proposals!”
“Oh really? Was it her black magic that makes you fight with your husband all the time?”
“What do you mean Nina? You mean I start the fight all the time?”
“Ofcourse you do” I was so mad at my mother, because she always blames Ammachi for everything that goes wrong.
“How dare you speak like that Nina? Don’t you see how much your father hurts me?”
“Ofcourse, but why don’t you ever keep your mouth shut?”
“Why should I? I have kept my mouth shut all these years Nina. I am not going to keep quiet anymore”
“Why not Amma? Don’t we, your children deserve a normal life, where the father and mother live together happily?”
“You are expecting a Cinema style life Nina, just like your father. His idea of a marriage is maram chutti premam(bollywood style romance, dancing around a tree, singing a romantic song). Only in movies parents live happily and not fight.”
I thought of all my classmates. Do their parents fight like this? I didn’t know.

Amma went to work and I dropped my sisters to the bus stand. As I walked back home, I thought of trying my luck.
‘If I see 2 white fiat cars before I count 100, Appa would surely come home today’
I looked around and found the first white fiat car near the lawyers office, even before I counted up to ten. I was excited. I needed to see one more car, just one more! I found two black Ambassodors, a blue fiat and a blue maruti car, not a single white fiat. I even counted 90.1, 90.2 hoping to stretch the time, so I could find another white fiat car. I cursed myself for chosing a white fiat car. I should have chosen black Ambassodor, atleast Appa would have come home.

Later I laughed at my own stupidity, how can seeing two same colour cars can bring my father home?
I went to the kitchen to see what I can give my father for lunch. I was sure, He would have taken the 10AM bus from Chengannur and would reach home by lunch time. There was only some red fish curry in the fridge. I decided to make moru(yogurt curry). Appa loves fish curry with moru(yogurt curry). I cooked rice and moru, took the fish curry from the fridge and warmed that as well. There was no vege. I didn’t have time to scrape the coconut and make a thoran. So I decided to make potato mezhukkupuratti(spicy,fried potato). I took 4 potatos from the basket and the peeler from the drawer and walked towards the sink. If Amma was here, she would have never let me use the peeler to peel the potato. She thinks the peeler wastes too much of potato, so she expects me to use a knife and scrape the skin off the potato. I was so happy that Amma isn’t home. If she had seen me using the peeler, she would have had a heart attack! I peeled the potato, washed it and was busy slicing the potato and I heard someone opening the gate.
I looked at the clock, it was 10 minutes past 12. I knew Appa would be here by lunch time. I was proud of my ability to guess the time. I wiped my hand and went to open the door with a big huge giant grin on my face.
Kizhava(old man)I knew you would..”
“There is a registered mail for your mother” The post man was standing in front of me.
“Oh I am so sorry, I thought it is my father”
” Your father has a nice name!” Post man was laughing
I was angry with him. Why did he have to come now and spoil my mood?
“Sign here” he handed me the paper. This time I put my signature neatly.
I collected the brown envelore from him. It was heavy. I looked at the stamp. it was posted on the 16th of October. The address was typed on the envelope.
Must be from Amma’s office. I left the letter on of the fridge and went back to the kitchen.
12.45 pm. Still no sign of Appa. May be the bus tire would have had a puncture. ‘KSRTC buses! They should make sure their buses are roadworthy. Poor passengers have to suffer, all because they never maintain their buses’.
If the bus had a punctured tyre, Appa would have taken the next available bus. I knew Appa would be home by 2pm. I was hungry, but still I decided to wait for Appa. After he goes back to Dubai, when will I get a chance to see him again and have a meal with him?, besides, it is not nice, when my father is hungry and I eat my lunch.
I waited and waited and waited. I was really hungry. I made a cup of coffee and drank.
‘Where is my father? Did the bus had an accident? I was getting worried.

3.45 Pm, I had to go and fetch my sisters from their school. I set the table, kept Appa’s favourite Corelle plate( white plate with a blue flower motif on the edge) on the table, filled the glass with cold water, made sure there was a spoon in each pot, so Appa won’t have to hunt for serving spoons. I wrote a note to say that the house key is with Akashavani and stuck the note on the gate. I left the house key with Kapalanga(Sujith), with clear instructions to tell Appa that lunch is on the table.
I fetched my sisters from the bus stand. My sisters were walking like a snail
“Come on guys, hurry up, Appa will be home by now”
“Is he coming home today? How do you know Nina?”
“I know he will come to see me before I leave. I am leaving tomorrow right? So today for sure he will come home”
“Ok” They didn’t look excited. I felt I am the only one who loves my father.

When we reached home, I checked the gate first. It was locked. May be Appa would have locked the gate. I was just about to climb the gate and I heard Kapalanga(Sujith) calling me
Athey Why do you want to climb the gate, when you have the key?” He shook the key chain to show me that, he has my house key.
I felt stupid. I took the key from him and opened the gate. With a heavy heart I walked inside. I opened the living room door. From there I could see the table I set before leaving to fetch my sisters. My sisters too saw the food on the table
“Nina, what did you make?” Both of them ran to the table.
I watched Liza serving rice in to Appa’s favourite plate. Sally took the plate I left for myself.
“Oh Nina, you are so sweet. You even set the table for us. You are the best sister in the whole wide world”
“Your potato mezhukkupuratti is so yummy”
I didn’t feel hungry anymore. I hated my father. How can he not come and see me when he knew I will be leaving for Bangalore tomorrow? He should know his wife would never let me go to Chengannur. How could he hurt me like this. I knew, for once Amma was right. My father enjoys hurting others.

When Amma came back from work, I handed her the envelope
“From where?” She looked the letter and asked
“don’t know” I shrugged my shoulder and walked towards my room. I was just about to close the door and I heard Amma howling
“Oh my god”

11 thoughts on “Another letter

  1. Red fish curry, moru kari and urulakizhangu mezhukkuvaratti. Hmmmm…. My tummy is growling so loud, I bet you can hear it in Vancouver…
    Incidentally, ancient Indian advice says that ( Ayurveda) Fish is not to be mixed with curd or moru… but I have always forgotten Ayurveda when I see this combination. And then to top it all those golden brown cubes of spicy potatao mezhukkuvaratti… heavenly, I must say.
    By the way, I KNOW that you cant be mean ( as in MEAN) , i know that it is your love for Liza and little Sally that made you redesign mummy’s saree !!

  2. While goin to answer exams , i used to tell myself if bus no 5 comes before bus no 27, the paper would be easy. now when i think of it i laugh. what connection does bus’s arrival have to do with exams.

  3. heee, i thought i was the only crazy one coz i always used to count my steps…like fom my office door to the car door… like if i make it to the car in 200 steps, i’m gonna have a good lunch/good day/nice eve….. heeee

  4. yummmmmy… those are my favourite comfort food as well, though at our place too they dont allow us to mix fish with youghurt.

    i hope im guessing wrong as to wat was in the letter.

  5. Sujit: nah not so lucky!

    MadhavanKutty: I can’t imagine not having moru when I make red fish curry.. some how that is the best combination after kanji and payaru

    Toothless: Grrrrr

    Visithra:more grrrrr

    Techno: nah.. that was from the lawyers asking us to vacate the house!

    Suma: Thank you for telling me that.. I thought I was weird.. Like how can 2 white fiat cars bring my father home!!!

    Dumela: There you go.. you are not the only one!!!!

    Sk: my comfort food is kanji, payar and unakka meen chammanthi!.. the more upset I am, the more chilli I put in the chammanthi..

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