I was making tea when I heard Amma coming in. I didn’t speak to her as I knew, we will have a fight shorlty over the 20 Rs I have spend. I watched her going to her room to change. Liza and sally were watching TV.
“Maria” I heard her calling.
There was no response from Maria
“Children, where is Maria?” Amma asked Liza and Sally
They shook their head and went back to watching TV.
“I asked you, where is Maria?” Amma stood infront of the TV, trying to block it.
“Move Amma, I said already I don’t know” Liza screamed at Amma
“How dare you scream at me Liza?”
“Then you shouldn’t disturb me while I am watching the TV”
“Really? Then nobody watches TV in this house” Amma switched off the TV
“You can’t stop me” I watched in horror as Liza got up and pushed Amma away from the TV and switched it back on. Till now I was under the impression that my sisters are little babies. Only when Liza pushed Amma, it occured to me, she has grown and is now almost the same height as Amma and more stronger than her.
“You pushed me? How dare you?” Amma was trying to hit Liza.
Liza held Amma’s right hand and screamed
“That is enough Amma. If you want to hit someone, go and hit Nina. She is the only one who won’t hit you back. If you hit me Amma, I promise I will hit you back”
I didn’t want Liza to hit Amma, so I ran to the TV room.
“That is enough. Liza, let go Amma’s hands” I begged
“She is hitting me for no reason Nina”
I desperately wanted to tell her ‘I know Liza’. But that would have made things different.
“Leave it Liza.” I pleaded
“I will teach you a lesson” Amma screamed, and she pushed Liza and walked off. I quickly held Liza, if not she would have hit her head on the wall.
“She is mad” Liza screamed. I covered her mouth with my hand and pleaded
“Please Liza, leave it. Don’t make it worst”
“You are lucky Nina, you don’t have to see her everyday. You are staying in your medical college hostel. But I have to live with her. Do you know how hard it is? She makes the batter for dosai and keep it in the fridge. We have to make dosai and eat every evening when we come back from school. Do you know how sour the batter is after one week? Even the krumi(hook worm) in my tummy would have died! Wors of all, Week ends I don’t know where she is going or when she will come back!”
“She is going to ‘just over there’ Liza” I couldn’t stop laughing
“just over there! mannankatti(my foot!). Everyone laughs at me in my school, because I am the only one whose father never comes for the PTA, and my mother wears the same saree each time she comes to my school. Do you know my friends ask me, if that brown saree is Amma’s uniform?”
Now that indeed is a big problem. My mother has over 50 sarees in her cupboard. But she wears only the brown saree all the time. It wouldn’t have been a big problem, if she wore a matching blouse with that saree. She only wears a cream blouse, which everyone notices as she looks like a panda(brown colour ofcourse!)
“Don’t worry. I will solve your problem tomorrow” I knew I have to do something.
“What are you going to do?”
“Leave it to me. I will handle it”
“Why isn’t there any sugar in the tea?” Amma was screaming from the kitchen
“Argh! Now it is my turn to get whacked” I whispered to Liza
“What did you do?” She asked me
“Didn’t buy sugar”
“No money!”
“She gave you money this morning, right?”
“Spend it already!”
“How?” Before I could answer, I heard Amma screaming
“Nina, come here right now”
Like a lamb about to be slaughtered, I walked slowly to the kitchen.
“Why didn’t you buy sugar?”
“I didn’t have money”
“You didn’t have money? I gave you 20Rs before I went to work this morning! Didn’t I?”
“I bought lunch for Chechy”
Amma was staring at me.
“Chechy went back to Bangalore. There was nothing to eat here, so I bought food for her from the railway station”
Amma didn’t speak anything
“Are you not going to ask me Amma, why chechy went to Bangalore all of a suddent Amma?” I looked at Amma. She didn’t look like she wanted to know. But I wanted her to know
“Dr. Suzy is marrying the guy who came to see Chechy”
“That was your sister’s fault. She was the one who put so much oil in her hair and wore that old faded blouse. God! She looked so ugly!”
“Which one are you talking about Amma?Dr. Suzy is marrying the one eye blind man!”
“No way”
“You can deny all you want Amma, but the truth is, if it wasn’t for you, we would be busy organizing Maria’s wedding right now”
“No, I will not let her marry a blind man” “I will get a good guy for her” Amma sounded so adamant
“Sure, everyone would want to marry Maria,especially when they learn that girl’s parents are on the brink of a divorce”
“What is your problem Nina?” Amma was screaming
“My problem is YOU.” I screamed at her back.” You are the root cause of all troubles in this family. You just don’t get it do you?”
“You want to blame me? I should have left all of you with that mad man and walked off”
“Why didn’t you? Who asked you to stay Amma?”
“I should hear it!.. This is all my fault. I shouldn’t have sacrificed my life for all of you. I should have allowed your father to destroy all your future. His idea of a bride groom for a his oldest daughter is a blind man!, What do you think, he would find for you? Atleast Maria is physically alright. You are deaf and blind”
“How come, the blind guy is ok for Dr. Suzy’s parents?” I asked
“may be, her parents didn’t want to pay any dowry!”
There was no point in arguing with my mother. She always had answers for all the questions.
“Go and buy sugar” Amma ordered
I looked outside. It was already getting darker.
“I am not going out at this time of the day Amma”
“Liza, take Sally with you and go and buy sugar” Amma ordered
“No Amma, they are not going either. You are not sending my sisters out at this time of the day.”
“What is wrong? There are man eating lions out there?”
“Don’t you remember, how someone tried to hurt me, the last time I went out in the night to buy rice for you Amma?”
“Oh pinney, the same man is waiting there, because he knows your sisters are going to buy sugar!”
There are moments, you want to shake your mother, so you can put some sense in to her. This was one such moment
“Say what you want Amma, but they are not going. I won’t let them”
I knew my mother is vengeful, but I didn’t know how vengeful she can be, till I heard the phone ringing and Amma telling the caller
“Find a school for Liza in Bangalore. I am sending her to a boarding school. She is getting too difficult to handle”
It didn’t matter to my mother that, Liza is already in the 9th standard and next year she will write her 10th std public exam. It didn’t matter to my mother that, Liza will have to learn Kannada and will have to pass Kannada as a subject in her 10th std. Nothing mattered to my mother. She just wanted to win, even if it is at the expense of her daughter’s future and in the same breath she would say, she sacrificed her life for her daughters.

The next day while Amma was at work, I took her precious brown saree from the laundry basket. I couldn’t tear it, because I knew she would know it is me who tore her saree and never leave me alone for the rest of my life.
I had to find a better way. I remembered how I damaged my saree accidentally at the biochemistry lab, when I spilled a drop of sulfuric acid. The acid made a hole on the saree. I tried to darn the saree, but unlike a long tear, a hole is difficult to darn. I wanted to make sure, Amma won’t be able to darn the saree. I looked around the house.
Finally I found the right thing.
Incense stick!
Amma had bought it the last time, when we got someone to clean our septic tank. I lit the insence stick, used it and poked the saree. Initially I was only planning to make a single gaping hole. But it felt good, when the fire burned a neat hole on the saree. Soon I was busy making holes all around the saree.

After I finished my master piece I lifted the saree and held it towards the light. It looked magnificient! The light was seeping through the hundrends of holes in the saree, like the stars in the sky.

16 thoughts on “Sacrifices

  1. You made holes in a Saree? Nah!
    You punctured a myth you had created about yourself and your mom. Just as you showed a mature side to your dealing with Maria, you showed a mean side in your relationship with your mother. Justified perhaps, given the barbs you had to face from mom…..

  2. heheh oh god nina..u r such a crazy person…good on u..and it was nice to see liza bombarding ur when ur mother realises she cant order her kids around..she sends them away..what a nice r ur little sisters..u in touch with any of them?

  3. We got independence only when we decided that the British wont have thier way. I feel that your mom and Maria would have not hurt you this much, had you not been so submisive. We have to fight for our rights. I belive sometimes it is we ourselves who let others take us for granted.

  4. “If you want to hit someone, go and hit Nina. She is the only one who won’t hit you back. If you hit me Amma, I promise I will hit you back”

    she had realised tht u were gettin hurt.

    holes in the brown saree…….:-)

  5. Sujit: It wasn’t vengeance.. It was the only way I could save my sisters from their friends rude comments

    Techno: It was indeed a beautiful designer saree

    Jane: I guess you were right

    Maya: She didn’t know wnat happend to her saree! She even took it to some saree showroom to ask the learned ones, how it happend!!!!

    Madhavankutty: It wasn’t being mean. I know how friends can hurt.. I have been there.. I didn’t want my sisters to go through what I went through. My mother had enough sarees, even after telling her, how everyone laughs at her for wearing the same saree every other day, she continued to wear. She wasn’t bothered about us and I had to do something. It wasn’t done with vengeance on mind.. It was done with the love for my sisters

    rosie: My mother still follow the divide and rule philosophy!

    Toothless: Nah.. Didn;t get in to trouble..Mother didn;t know what caused such an extensive damage to her saree!!

    Inji: Warning! Ranting in session
    Kurutham ketta chekkan thought he is superman and jumped backwards to catch a ball his friend threw!He fell 5 feet down and hit his head on the gravel. There was a 2 cm size stone embedded at the back of his head. They had to remove that, stitch and then he started to vomit non stop, he was all disoriented. He said he has an apple farm with green apples. There are plenty of rabbits around etc.. They rushed him to get a CT.. which fortunately didn’t show any bleeding.
    In between all these, when he was crying I like a smart woman told him, if you stop crying I will give you anything you ask for..Thank God he didn’t ask for an apple farm with green apples and plenty of rabbits!” Ranting finished
    Now I have a request.. I remember reading in your blog about the softest idlis you made.. Can you give me the proportion?

    Visithra:Oh yes.. Because I was staying at the hostel, Amma couldn;t take her anger on me.. so Liza was the next in line!

    Alex: I never knew

    Suma: Nah..My home was already a mad place.. me fighting wouldn’t have made it a sane place

    Vidya: Oh they knew..My sisters knew very well that I was taking all the nonsense!

  6. Sarah,

    Oh!I really really Hope he is doing well now. A stone at the back of his head…oh!

    This is the idli recipe kitchenmate gave me. it turns out so good for me.

    Idli Recipe : 4:1 (boiled rice: uraddal). Soak them overnight, grind urad dal first and rice separately. Tip: Sprinkle water to the urad dal while it is grinding,which makes the dough very fluffy and the idlis soft like a flower.

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