“Where are your notes? How are you going to study for the exam, Oh Lord, why are you giving me so much trouble in my old age? Sally I am talking to you. Where are your notes?”
I woke up listening to my mother screaming at Sally. Should I get up and find out what is going on? Or should I ignore? From my past experiences I learned, never to interfere when Amma is scolding my sisters. So I chose the latter. I hoped the problem would solve on its own.
Amma and I haven’t been talking to each other since the Idli batter incident. I didn’t want to create any trouble. In just a few more days I will be going back to my college.
“How dare you ah? See! All the papers are missing? What did you do? Answer me Sally! What happened to all your notes?”
“Amma, please don’t hit me, Amma please” I could hear Sally crying.
was pretty sure, Amma must have got her periods this morning!, that is why she is going after Sally
Much as my heart told me, not to go and interfere, I just couldn’t bear to hear my baby sister crying. So I got up and went to the living room. Amma was holding a note book in her hand and hitting Sally.
“What is going on?” I asked
“What is your problem? Don’t you dare interfere. You have no business in my house”
“Why is Amma hitting you Sally?”
“I lost my notes Nina”
“You idiot, you lost your notes” Amma started to hit her more.
“That is enough Amma” I spoke
“Who are you to tell me what I should do?” Amma raised her hand to hit Sally again and and I grabbed her hand and held it tight.
“I said that is enough. Sally, go to your room, now” She looked at me and Amma. Amma was struggling to break free from my grasp.
“Sally, I said go to your room, NOW” I screamed.
Sally ran to her room.
“I will give it to you later” Amma shouted. She was using all her strength to break free from my grasp, I let go of my hand. Suddenly Amma lost her balance and I quickly held her. I didn’t want Amma to fall down and hurt herself.
“Don’t touch me. Don’t you dare touch me” Amma pushed me away, the moment she regained her balance.
I felt I should have just let her fall!
I thought of pushing Amma, so she would fall. I was so angry. Then I realized, there isn’t much difference between my father and I!
“Move” Amma pushed me. I wasn’t expecting her to push me and I almost fell down. There was enough space for Amma to walk without pushing me.
“What is wrong with you?”
“Wrong? Wrong with me? Ever since I gave birth to you, nothing good has happened in this house. You are asking me what is wrong with me?”
“Then how come your mother and the rest of your family says, I brought luck to you, that I am a makam piranna manka( Excellent horoscope)”
“Makam Piranna Manka,” Amma repeated the sentence in a mocking tune. I ignored the sarcasm in her voice. I know, my dad got a better job after I was born. My parents bought a lot of stuff for the house after my birth. So there is no way I could have brought bad luck to my family. Can one’s birth bring bad luck to their family? Is it true?
I thought of all the things happened since my birth. Was I the reason Appa and Amma fight? Was I the reason, Ammachi and Amma fight? If I was a boy, then would Ammachi and Amma had a better relationship? If I was a boy, then Amma need not have given birth to my sisters. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t imagine a life without my sisters. I quickly walked to Sally’s room.
She was lying on her bed with a blanket over her head.
“Oh Sally, why do you cover your face? You know only dead people cover their face” I pulled the blanket from her face. Her eyes were red. I felt sorry for her.
“What happened to your notes?”
“I don’t know Nina”
“Show me your note book”
Sally got up, took the notebook from her desk and gave it to me.
It was her English notebook. I opened it, there was just 2 pages of notes. Nothing else. There were so many lose sheets at the back of the book.
“Did you tear the paper from your notebook?”
“No. I never do that”
“Sally. Don’t lie, See this?” I showed her the lose pages.” These pages won’t just fall out of your note book. What did you do? Did you tear the paper”
“When my friend Amina asked me for a paper to make a boat, I tore a sheet from the back of the book”
“Only one sheet?”
“I made a boat also. so two sheets”
“Only two sheets?” I looked at the note book. It was a 220 pages notebook. It didn’t look like it had more than 100 pages!
“Yesterday I only took 2 sheets. I swear, Nina, I only took two sheets”
“What about day before yesterday?”
“I can’t remember Nina”
“Oh” I shook my head. “Sally, see what you have done? When you tear a page from the back, the page in the front section of the book becomes loose, so it will come off. That is how you lost your notes! Oh Sally Didn’t Amma tell you not to tear the pages from your note book?”
“I am sorry Nina” She started to cry
“Stop crying. Do you think by crying you get your notes back” I scolded her.
“When is your test?”
“Excellent! How are you going to study without your notes?”
“I don’t know”
“Does any of your classmates stay near our house?”
“Sajini stays near the park”
“Wonderful. Go get ready. We will go to her house and you can borrow her note book and copy everything”
“But Nina, I have to study maths”
“when is your math’s test?”
“On Tuesday only right? You have enough time to study. Get ready. You are coming with me”
“Nina, will you please copy the notes for me”
“No way. I don’t write my own notes, so you think I will write for you?”
“Please Nina, didn’t I help you to draw your Botany record book for the Pre-degree?”
“Shhh!” I hoped Amma didn’t hear that.
” Please Nina, please copy the notes for me. I will fail my test if I don’t have any notes. You are the only one who loves me, please Nina!”
“Oh ok.Where does your friend stay?”
I took the address from Liza. I really didn’t want to copy the notes for Sally. But she is my youngest sister. If I don’t do it for her, who will do it? I took her notebook, pencils and walked out. Amma was sitting at the dining table and reading the news paper. I looked at the clock. It was only 9.45Am. Too early to go and visit Sally’s classmate.
I looked at the newspaper in Amma’s hand. I really wanted to read the paper. but I knew if I asked Amma for the inside the sheets she would say
“I only get 10 minutes to read the paper and in that time, you want to share. Go away Nina, let me read the paper in peace”
I don’t know what is Amma’s problem, Why can’t she give me the inside sheets?She knows, I read faster than her and can give it back to her, even before she reads the front page. But still she won’t share.
Wait till I earn my own money, Then I will subscribe to all the newspapers available on planet earth and I won’t share my paper with Amma!
“Why are you standing there and staring at me” I was startled to hear Amma speaking
“Oh nothing, I was just reading the headlines”
“I am going to Sally’s friend’s house”
I looked at the woman who was sitting at the dining table. That is my mother, the woman who gave birth to me. She didn’t even ask me, where I am going? why I am going? When will I be back? Why can’t she ask me anything? Why can’t she show once that she cares for me?
When I have my own children, I will make sure, I show them how much I care. I will not treat them the way my mother treats me. I promised myself.
I walked towards the gate. I opened the gate and as usual, I looked at Akashavani’s house. I saw Sujith looking out through the window and ducking his head the moment he saw me looking at him
Weirdo! Why is he playing hide and seek? Stupid fellow. I planned to tell him off the next time I see him.
I walked slowly, passed the parade ground. Some of the Lawyer’s offices were already opened for business. The corner shop owner was standing on a small stool and hanging a bunch of ripe bananas on a hook in front of his shop. I looked at the row of glass jars, where he stores all the candies. I remembered narangamuttai and inji muttai(candies). I haven’t eaten a candy for such a long time. Actually the last time I ate a naranga muttai was, when Maria was home. Then I realized, I haven’t seen my big sister since then. She lives in Bangalore and I have never once bothered to call or write to her. What is wrong with me? How could I not keep in touch with my sister? Oh my goodness I am such a colossal failure!
I promised myself, I will ask Amma for Chechy’s address and will contact her once I am in Bangalore.
I checked my pocket. I had some coins and I decided to buy some naranga muttai( candies). I walked to the shop
“chetta, Do you have naranga muttai(candies)?”
“Naranga muttai? Who eats naranga muttai now a days? I have cadbury’s”
I looked at the glass jars. The shop keeper was telling the truth. All the candy jars had cadbury’s and Poppins etc, Not one jar had any candies without a wrapper.
I don’t like Chocolate. I like the traditional hard candies that comes without any wrappers. Like the Injimuttai. Why do we change so much in the name of modernization? What is wrong with all our traditional sweets? I was just about to walk off when I heard someone calling my name
“Hey Nina, wait up”
I turned my head to look. Sujith was running towards me. By the time he reached where I was standing, he was huffing and puffing
“Where were you?” He asked me
“Huh?” I looked at him. Not enough that he was vayumnokkifying(?peeping) this morning, now he has the nerve to ask me, where I was? Who is he? My father?
I was just about to give him a piece of my mind
“This is for you” He had an envelope in his hand and was giving it to me.
“What is it?” I asked him. Sujith was struggling to answer.
“Just take it” He replied.
I looked at him trying to figure out what is going on.
“Money, Sujithey(Dear son Sujith), Does your mother know this?” Shop owner asked Sujith.
Know what? I looked at both of them
“Oh No Chetta, this isn’t what you think. This is a letter that came for her. Postman accidentally put it in our mailbox”
“Take it” Sujith pushed the envelope in to my hand.
“Hmmm! hmmm!” The shop owner was humming and grinning.
What is wrong with the shop owner? I didn’t want to stand there any longer and create further confusion. I walked off quickly.
I wondered, which idiot send me a letter? I have never given my address to any of my classmates. I didn’t want to receive a letter from one of my classmate guys and fight with Amma over that. I looked at the envelope. There was no address. It was a plain white colour envelope with nothing written on it. It didn’t even have a stamp.
Why did sujith lie to me?
I opened the letter quickly.
First line was
Ente prana sakhi (my darling)
Wishing all of you a very happy valentine’s day..
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires,
let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook
that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of
too much tenderness.
To be wounded by
your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn
with a winged heart
and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour
and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer
for the beloved in your heart
and a song of praise upon your lips.
Note: Sting,Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers(Police) will be launching their 30th Anniversary reunion world tour on may 28th in Vancouver. Presale tickets will be on sale on 14th feb at 12 noon( Vancouver time)