“Come, we have reached home” Appa spoke finally. We haven’t spoken a word since he yelled at me for not knowing what to order at the restaurant.
I looked at Rafiq to see if he would be opening the car door for me. He was still holding the steering wheel, so I opened the door and got out.
“Sir, would you be needing me this evening?” Rafiq asked
“No, Park the car and bring the key,” Appa ordered.
I looked around. I was standing in front of a tall building. Walls were painted with light brown paint. Palm trees were planted in the neat row around the building. On the right side I saw couple of kids roller blading. I hoped they stayed close to where Appa stays. I really wanted to learn Roller blading! I was about to ask Appa, if he knew those kids, when I heard Appa talking
“They are mad”
“Who?” I asked
“Those kids” Appa pointed to the right. “They are always playing there, they make so much noise. Can’t they see that this is a residential area?”
“See, all the stunts they do? They don’t even wear a helmet. They are asking for trouble.”
“hmm” I mumbled.
I realized I would have to find where those kids are staying by myself!
“Finally, it sure takes him a lot of time to park the car, bloody fool” Appa mumbled. I looked around to see where Rafiq was and saw him getting out of another car, a white car and running towards Appa to hand over the keys.
“Good night Sir, good night Madam” Rafiq bowed his head.
“Good night” Appa mumbled and turned to walk inside. Why can’t my father be a bit nice? I wondered
“Good night Rafiq” I smiled and greeted him. He too smiled and I knew he must have been thinking how did this Moron get a nice daughter!!! I couldn’t stop smiling thinking about it.
Appa turned to look at me and I tried to look as serious as I could. I was afraid he would think I was flirting with the driver and I knew that would lead in to another screaming session. I decided to change the topic quickly
“Does your office provide a car for the diver too?” I asked Appa
“Nah, that is his own car”
“Really? He can afford to buy his own car?”
“That was some kattarabi’s old vehicle. kattarabi didn’t have the patience to advertise and look for a buyer for old car. Rafiq negotiated with the kattarbi. Instead of paying a lump sum he pays 150 Dirhams every month. It would take Rafiq another 5 years to pay back. But right now, he is the king among his friends. He is the only one who owns a car. He is enjoying his new found status”
“wow, what kind of car is that?”
“Mazda 323 sedan”
“hmm” I mumbled
We were waiting at the lift lobby and suddenly Appa asked
“Nina, how did Mazda get its name?”
I was stunned. It was just like all those years in my childhood. Appa was asking me questions. But much as I was glad that we were recapturing the magic of childhood, I also felt disappointed. I had no clue how Mazda got its name. I wanted to know, I wanted to answer my father’s question. I tried to think. Mazda, Japanese, Keiko, Monako, Masako, nothing none of those made any sense.
Mazda, how did the word Mazda originated?
Mazda, Mazada? Masada
“Is it from the word Masada?” I asked Appa hopefully
“Masada?” Appa looked at me
“Yeah, Masada, remember battle of Masada, Jews and the Romans”
“Oh that one, No Nina, the word Mazda didn’t come from the word Masada”
The lift door opened and few people came out. We got inside and Appa pressed number 11. I wished Appa would ask me what number 11 in Malay( seblas) or Mandarin(shiyi) or French(onze) or even German(elf). I could have answered, but I didn’t know how Mazda got its name.
Appa looked at me and I shook my head
“Ahura Mazda, the word came from Ahura Mazda”
“Do you know who is Ahura Mazda?” Appa asked
That was the third item in a day I didn’t know
I shook my head
“You need to read more Nina” Appa sounded Agitated
“Ahura Mazda is the name of Zoroastrian God”
“Oh” I was awed
“Do you know who are Zoroastrians?”
“Parsi’s” At least I knew that.
Appa didn’t answer and I knew my answer wasn’t what he was expecting. I promised myself I would read more about Zoroastrians when I get back to Bangalore
Lift stopped at 11 Th floor and Appa held the door open for me.
I thought of telling Appa I am sorry for not knowing who are Zoroastrians. But Appa had already started to walk. I quickly followed him.
“B-11-3, remember that.” Appa pointed to the sign on top of the wooden doorframe.
“Sure” I replied, still hoping Appa would ask me a question about number 11. I so very badly wanted my father’s approval, so very badly wanted him to tell me that he was proud of me. Appa opened the door
“Welcome home Nina” He spoke
‘Home? This wasn’t home. Home was in a small village in Chengannur. This was a house, not a home. I thought of telling that to Appa, instead I told him
“Thank you Appa”
The first thing I noticed was the chandelier in the living room. It was so beautiful.
“Come, I will show you your room” Appa spoke
I followed Appa.
My room was twice the size of Amma’s bedroom in Bangalore. There was a big bed with a headboard in the middle. There was also a dressing table and a cupboard. All the furniture was in matching colours. Appa showed me how to switch on the AC.
“Do you want to take a shower first?”
Appa was watching TV when I came out.
“neerattam kazhinjo? (finished bathing?)” He asked
“hmm” I replied
“This is for you” He handed me and envelope
“What is it?” I asked
“Open and see”
I opened the envelope quickly.
There were a bundle of crisp bank notes inside.
“That is 1500 dirhams. You can buy what ever you want with that”
“Thank you Appa”
“Rafiq will take you to all the malls”
I held the money in my hands. Liza’s shoes, dresses for Liza and Sally and something for Amma. I would be able to buy all that.
“Can you cook?” Appa asked
“Of course I can, Amma always..” The word had slipped out of my tongue. Of all the words on earth, that was one word I shouldn’t have spoken. It was the key to Pandora’s box.
“Where is your mother now?” Appa was staring at me
“At home” I replied, hoping Appa won’t ask where is the home
“What about your sisters?”
“Chechy is working in Bangalore, Liza got Admission to do Pre degree at Jyothi Nivas”
“Appa” I called
“What is it?” He sounded serious
“I was wondering, since Maria, Liza and I are in Bangalore, should I bring Sally to Bangalore as well?”
“So we will all be together and besides schools in Bangalore are much better than Kottayam.”
“Have you found any schools yet?”
“There are few good schools. There is Bishop Cottons, but it is difficult to get admission. There is also Baldwin school. My classmates aunty teaches there, so I can always ask her for help to get the admission”
Appa didn’t speak anything. I wasn’t sure what to do next.
“It will be good for Sally Appa” I spoke again.
“Where will she stay in Bangalore?” Appa asked
“Along with Liza, There are paying guest accommodations available”
“What does your mother say?”
“I don’t know. What would she say? It is better for Sally right?” I looked at Appa. I knew the trump card and I knew my father would do anything to make his wife unhappy. Taking her daughter away from her would be the best idea!
“I will have to convince Amma. It is better for Sally that she studies in Bangalore” I used the trump card
“Ok” he agreed
“So you will pay her fees”
“I said ok, didn’t I?” Appa screamed at me
“Ok ok ok” I was so relieved. I didn’t get upset with Appa for screaming at me. But I wanted the money now, so I could send the draft to Amma. But I couldn’t ask Appa. I realized Appa would know that everything I said until now was a big lie. I had to find some other way to get the money to pay Sally’s fees. I simply had to.
I was tired and exhausted emotionally.
“Appa, what time do you go to work?” I asked
“I leave at 7”
“Why? you think 7 is too early?
I knew we are in for another lecture about time management and work etiquette.
“No Appa, 7 is not too early. I start my clinics at 7” I replied
Only if Appa knew the truth! Only I knew how many times I missed morning rounds because I didn’t get up on time! But that was my secret
“Good night Appa”
“Good Night Nina”
I lay down on the bed and tried to sleep. I couldn’t. My heart felt heavy. I had lied to my own father. Situations and circumstances didn’t permit me to speak the truth and I had no choice but to lie. That didn’t make it right. A lie is still a lie.
I closed my eyes and recitedOM. Dyauh Shantir-antirksha-gwam, Shantih Prithivi, Shanti-rapah, Shantir-aushdhayah, Shantih. Vanaspatyah, Shantir-vishve Devah, Shantir-brahma, Shantih, Sarva-gwam Shantih, Shantir-eva, Shantih, Shantih Saa Maa, Shantiredhi. Om shanti.
I found this on Youtube, one of the best documentary I have seen of late