It was getting dark and I started to walk faster. By the time I reached the collectorate, I could hear the Christmas carols from the church. The choir was singing Joy to the World . I started to sing along, almost surprised to know that I still remember the lyrics.
From the distance, the church looked beautiful. It isn’t often one get to see all the lights switched on inside the church as the normal services are almost always in the mornings. In the midst of the darkness, the church stood bright, with the lights streaming out through all the doors and windows and the music filled the air. It was such a beautiful moment, beautiful church, beautiful songs and a happy heart.
I thought of entering the church and listening to the choir service, but I am Methran Thambi’s grand daughter and I don’t go back on my words! Besides the church is already crowded and there is no place for me to sit anyway.
‘Excuses, excuses excuses. you are always full of excuses Nina’ I talked to myself
I started to walk quickly towards home, just as I reached the parade ground road, I saw my youngest sisters running towards me
“Oh Nina, where did you go? We were so worried. Amma looked for you everywhere and now she is at home crying” I saw tears in Liza’s eyes.
My heart felt so heavy. Gosh, how stupid was I?
“Aiyyah, Why are you crying like a baby? I just went out for a walk.” I wiped the tears from her eyes
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Sally asked
“You weren’t home, how to tell you when you aren’t home?”
“You could have written a note”
“I know. I am sorry I got you all worried. Come, let us go home” I held their hands and we walked quickly. I wanted to reach home faster. I didn’t want Amma to worry about me and have a heart attack.
When I opened the main gate, I could see Amma sitting on the veranda floor, leaning against the wall. Her eyes were closed. I thought she died. I ran to her calling
She didn’t open her eyes and I shook her shoulder
“Amma, open your eyes”
She opened her eyes and I could see that she was crying. She looked at me. There was fear written all over her face.
“Where did you go Nina?” her voice was quivering
“Amma, I just went for a walk”
“Walk? At this time of the day? Do you know how worried I was?
When I came home and found that you have gone, I didn’t know what to do. What do you expect me to do? Where do I go and look for you? Who do I ask for help? Do we have any men here, who will help me? Your father just left all four you with me. Who will help me Nina?” She was gasping
I held her hand. It was cold. I felt I was the stupidest person on planet earth. How could I make my mother worry about me like this? Few hours ago I thought my presence or absence made no difference to my family and now I understood, how much my mother needs me.
“Amma, I am sorry for making you get worried. I didn’t think you would be worried. I am so sorry. Come Amma, let us go inside” I gave her my hand helped her to get up from the floor.
As I entered the dining room, I noticed the Christmas cake on the table. It was a small cake with white icing and orange colour flowers.
“Now can we cut the cake?” Liza asked Amma. She looked at me and spoke
“Nina, Amma didn’t let us cut the cake. She said we can only cut it, when you are home”
I looked at Amma, she was staring at me. Between the two of us, we knew we love each other very much, but when we speak, that is a different story all together.
“I am sorry Amma for hurting you” I walked towards her and kissed her on her forehead. She wiped it off saying
“I don’t want your thuppal umma”
“That wasn’t thuppal umma, that was honey umma“
“oh pinney, what are you? a bee?”
I stuck my tongue at her.
Amma shook her head saying “It is a waste of time, you studying for medicine. Look at you, you are still acting like little kid”
“Can someone please cut the cake?” Liza shouted a little more louder
“Oh god! Nina, go and cut the cake, before your sister shouts and bring the whole world down”
I took the knife from the kitchen and cut the cake. I gave the first slice to Amma
“Nah, I don’t want. Give it to Liza” Amma spoke
I knew there is no point in trying to make Amma eat the cake. She just won’t change her views. According to her, a good mother always keeps the best food for her children.
After dinner, I went to my room. I had brought along three Sidney Sheldon novels with me from Bangalore. I liked to read Sidney Sheldon books. I adjusted my pillow and lay down on my bed and started to read ‘Bloodline’.
“Nina, quick, off the light in your room” Amma yelled from her room
“What for? why?”
“Carollers! I can hear them singing”
“Off the light, you idiot. I don’t want the carollers to know we are home”
I didn’t know why I had to switch off the light, but since I am expected to listen to her, I switched off the light in my room. By the time I came out of the room, our house was in total darkness. I am afraid of darkness and I quickly walked to Amma’s bedroom
“What is going on?” I asked Amma
“Shh, carollers are here” Liza spoke.
I walked towards the window. Both my sisters were standing on the window ledge and peeking outside.
I climbed on Amma’s bed and looked outside through the window. I could see a bunch of carollers standing outside our main gate. Soon they started to bang the cymbals and drums and sing We wish you a Merry Christmas. When the song was over, few of the carollers started to bang our gate.
“I think they are sleeping, let us sing another song”
They started to sing Silent night
While singing, few of the carollers kept banging our gate every few seconds, hoping to wake us up.
“Eda, I don’t think anyone is home here” I heard a guy wearing the santa costume speaking.
“No da I saw the light was on, when we were coming down the road”
“Aha, they are hiding ah!” Santa started to shake our gate. Soon others too joined the santa
“ente karthavey (oh lord) They are going to destoy the gate today!” Amma whispered “I told you to switch off the light!” Amma was so angry with me.
“Why do you want to hide?” I whispered and asked Amma
“If I give them money, then they will go and tell their friends and soon, you will have hundreds of carollers singing outside your gate and expecting you to pay them. I am not going to waste my money unnecessarily.”
“Come da,let us go. I don’t think anyone is home” I heard someone telling Santa.
I watched Santa turning to leave. But just before leaving, he turned around and kicked the gate with all his strength. Perhaps Santa didn’t know that kicking a metal gate is injurious to bones in the feet. We watched the Santa limping and going to Akashavani’s house.