It must have been the anti histamine that made me so groggy and drowsy. Before I went to bed, I set the alarm for 5.30Am. So I won’t miss Gangamma knocking on my door to deliver the note and the rose flower.
I woke up even before the alarm rang. I looked at the clock. It was 4.15Am.
‘Too early Nina, Go back to sleep’. I tried to tell myself.
I closed my eyes and his eyes came in to view. I could see his nose, his lips and I wanted to kiss him.
I opened my eyes quickly. What is wrong with me? I don’t normally think like this. There is something wrong with me. It must be the after effect of the anti histamines.
‘Yeah Right’, the sensible one spoke from the back of my head.
‘The medicine that you ate yesterday afternoon is still in your blood stream. Come on Nina’
‘I am sure it is the anti histamine. May be I didn’t drink enough water yesterday and the medicine didn’t have the chance to get flushed out of my blood stream’.
‘Yeah Right, whom are you kidding’,the sensible one spoke
‘Shut up’ I spoke.
I must have said that a bit loud, because Aparna started to toss and turn in her bed. I didn’t want her to wake up. What would I tell her this time, when I get the letter and the flower? She knows Arjun had gone home.
I tried not to move or make any sound.
I was afraid to close my eyes, lest I start to think ‘unwanted’ stuff. I couldn’t read anything in the darkness either. I didn’t want to switch on the light and risk waking up Aparna.
I gently got up and adjusted my pillow, so I could sit up.
I wanted time to fly, not at all like during the exam time, then I wanted the time to go slow, very slow so I will have enough time to read the text book.
I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t read and I couldn’t even close my eyes. May be I could think something.
Who do I think of first?
Of course Beautiful Eyes. ‘No, No, No’ I don’t want to think about him.
I will think about Ammachi. I wondered how she has been doing. I hoped her legs wouldn’t give her any problems! Is Kutten still working there?
I could picture myself walking around the house, past the cattle shed with its multi colour painted walls, past the kuttakom (urn) that Ammachi uses to boil kaadi (feed) for the cows, past the rubber sheets hung on the clothes line and enter the house through the back door. There would be coconuts, cocoa and yams on the floor near the kitchen door, ready to take to the market to sell. The metal tins that are used to set the rubber sheets were stacked by the side of the kitchen wall. Oh I almost forgot, before entering the house, I must wash my legs. I walked towards the well and took the metal bucket at the end of the rope. I thought of the last time I used the same bucket.
‘No I can’t do this. I don’t want to think about Ammachi’. I quickly shut Ammachi out of my mind. There was a tinge of ache in my heart, but I ignored it.
Who is next?
Appa of course. ‘Nah, not him either’, Our last conversation ended with me slamming the phone down. Appa too was out of the thinking process.
I felt, I sounded like the nurses at the OPD clinic shouting Next to the patients waiting in the queue outside.
‘Amma’ I tried to think about Amma. But my thinking chest was empty. I had nothing to think about her. You don’t automatically become a mother by virtue of giving birth, do you?
‘But she is your mother’ the sensible one spoke
‘I know, I didn’t say she isn’t.’ I replied. I was getting annoyed with the sensible one. What is her problem anyway?
‘Chechy’ What do I think about her? ‘Nothing’
“Liza and Sally?’ Nothing, nothing. There was nothing to think about anyone in my family. That means only one thing.
That is, I need to create a new family. Something that I can call my own.
My husband and my children.
I knew I was blushing. So even in the darkness, I tried to rub my cheeks to remove the redness.
Where would we get married? Church wedding is out of question. What if he wants to get married in the church? Nah, like me, he is also a christian by name. He won’t be fuzzy, I knew that for sure. Civil service? B O R I N G!!!
I wanted to wear a wedding gown and a veil. May be Amma will give me her white stone necklace. That necklace would go very well with my white gown!
That Necklace was the only piece Amma’s wedding Jewelry that I wanted. It wasn’t a diamond necklace, but the stones sparkled almost like diamonds. There were 15 round stones in a single gold chain. Amma had already given all of her bangles to Maria. I hoped at least she would give me the necklace. Maria never had to ask Amma for anything, Amma always gave without Maria asking. I had to ask everything and she never gave me anything. Why is that?
‘Nah, don’t bother. We are thinking about pleasant things, ignore your mother’ Sensible one spoke
May be we will get married by the beach, with the sun set as a back ground. That will be so romantic. Wedding by the beach. Liza and Sally could be the flower girls.
Maria and Amma and Appa together with my baby sisters on my wedding day. I should warn everyone not to fight on the most important day of my life.
Would my family accept Beautiful Eyes?
The simple answer would be ‘NO’.
Suriani Kristiani chain had been tied to my ankles. I was supposed to marry my own kind. What is their problem anyway? I am marrying a guy I want to marry. I have the right to do so, don’t I?
‘Sure you do, be prepared to be excommunicated from your family’ Sensible one replied
‘Ah, no big deal. As long as the man I marry loves me and stand by me, my family’s view wouldn’t have to bother me’
I looked at the clock. 6.15. ‘Oh my goodness. Did Gangamma come and knock the door? Did I not hear it? May be Gangamma didn’t want to disturb me early in the morning. She might have left the letter and rose on the floor in front of my door. I got up quickly and opened the door. There was nothing on the floor. Could the wind have pushed it away? I looked everywhere.
May be I should find Gangamma. I looked all over for her, finally I found her, sleeping soundly near the hostel entrance on the floor. She had used part of her saree as a blanket and her tiffin bag as a pillow.
I was mad at her for sleeping!
May be she was so sound asleep that she didn’t hear the security guard calling her? All because of her, I would have missed the letter and flower.
But somehow, her shrivelled body on the cold cemented floor didn’t disappear from my mind.
Why can’t we even offer a proper bed for our servants? Why is that we consider people like Gangamma as ‘non existent’ in our day to day life? We worry about a clean room and a soft bed, yet those who clean our room gets cold cemented floor as a bed.
There was no point in waking her up and I walked back to my room. My head was aching and my heart felt heavy. But I was still hopeful. After all I send my first love letter yesterday. I should get a reply. May be he would call me. Nah not may be, surely he would call me.
I waited and waited. Time stood still. Everything around me was in slow motion. I watched Aparna getting up, checking the clock and going back to sleep. Some of the girls could be heard chatting outside the corridor and getting ready to go to the mess to eat breakfast. I was hungry, but I was afraid that, I might miss the phone call. So I stayed in my room. Each time I heard someone shouting someone else’s name, saying ‘Phone call for you’, I would go out and stand in the corridoor. What if I didn’t hear the name properly.
I thought of singing
Ring, ring, why don’t you give me a call
Ring, ring, the happiest sound of them all
Ring, ring, I stare at the phone on the wall
And I sit all alone impatiently
Won’t you please understand the need in me
So, ring, ring, why don’t you give me a call
So, ring, ring, why don’t you give me a call
But I knew, my wishes always stood as wishes.
I knew I blew it. I blew my only chance of being happy because I was stupid, dumb, ignorant,egotistical. I deserved this. I punched the wall as hard as I could.
I had to clench my teeth, so I won’t scream and wake up Aparna. May be it was the pain of probably broken carpel bones, may be it was the pain of losing the only guy I loved, tears started to flow. I didn’t want anyone to see me crying. So I lay down on my bed and pulled my blanket over my face.
I heard Aparna getting up. I didn’t have any reasons to tell her why I was crying. I tried not to make any sound. I realized I didn’t even have a right to cry!
I don’t know how long I hid underneath my blanket. I heard one of the juniors knocking my door and whispering ‘Madam’.
I pulled the blanket off my face and got up
Where has Aparna gone? Must have gone to meet her boyfriend. She is so lucky, I thought.
“Madam” the knock continued
“Coming” I got up and opened the door
“Someone send this for you” I took the brown paper envelope from her hand
Did Arjun come back already? I wondered
“Don’t know madam. This was given to my classmate Ravi and he passed it to me”
“Oh ok. Thanks”
I checked the envelope for handwriting. There was nothing written on it. I shook the envelope. Something was moving inside.
I closed the door and opened the envelope quickly. There was a sony audio tape. Nothing else.
‘What is this?’ I wondered. I am afraid to try anything that isn’t the norm because George’s shadow always follows me. What has he got now? Did Beautiful Eyes record our conversation and passed it to George?
Nah, that won’t be possible.
I took the tape from the cover and placed it in my music system and pressed the play button
“Good morning darling”
I almost jumped up from the bed and looked around. It took me a few seconds to realize that the sound was indeed from the tape. I started to blush and I was so grateful that Aparna wasn’t in the room. I reduced the volume quickly and ran and locked the door.
“Thank you for the letter, missing piece of the puzzle? Well, that is something.
I never saw my life as a puzzle and now that you mentioned it, I realized it is indeed a puzzle. I spend the night recording all my favourite Bob Marley songs for you, my puzzle. Once you finished listening to them, get ready and meet me at the bus station. We have things to do.
The first song was No woman No cry, by the middle of the song, I was in love with Bob Marley.
I got up from the bed and started to dance. Because my heart was full of joy, a feeling that I have never known before. I was transforming from a girl to a woman and I wasn’t ashamed of my transformation.