“Don’t worry Nina, I will always be there for you” Arjun was still holding my hand.
I wanted to take my hands away, mainly because I didn’t want Beautiful eyes to come and see us holding hands. I tried to wriggle my hand slowly from his grasp.
“I admire your mother NIna. She is so Brave. You guys are so lucky to have got such a wonderful mother” Arjun spoke.
I pulled my hand from his grasp. My reaction was too quick.
Arjun looked stunned
“Why? What happened? Is Princy here?” Arjun turned to look, to see if Princy had come for a spot check at the canteen.
“I thought I saw someone looking like Princy walking by” I lied
“Must be one of the seniors”
“Must be” I nodded
“so what is your plan for the day?”
“Go home,sleep and then study Patho and Micro”
“There is a good movie going on”
“Dirty Rotten Scoundrel”
“Who is acting?”
“Michael Caine and Steve Martin, Do you want to go? We can go for the evening show”
“Nah, my mom won’t allow”
“She doesn’t allow us to go out at night”
“But you are with me”
“Don’t worry, I will talk to her, she will listen to me”
“It is ok Arjun. Besides I want to prepare for the exams”
” I will pick you up at 6, we will have a bite at Mac’s and then go for the movie”
“No Arjun, I can’t”
“Arey Bhaiyya Where is the egg bhaji? Have you gone to the market to buy the hen or what?” Arjun shouted, looking at the counter
“Almost Ready boss” Operator shouted from the kitchen.
“Almost, that means another 1 hour” Arjun whispered to me. I watched him check his watch.
“Do you really want to eat the egg bhaji? May be we will just leave. Let him go to hell. He said 15 minutes and it is already 30 minutes”
“But he is making it Arjun”
“Yeah, and taking a long time”
“Of course Arjun, it is special order, He has to boil the egg, make the batter, heat the oil, dip the egg in the batter and deep fry it. It takes time”
“Why are you supporting him?”
“I am not supporting him. I am telling you the truth”
“Come let us go. I will drop you home” Arjun got up
I saw the canteen operator opening the curtain and bringing the Bhaji. Arjun turned to leave and he too noticed the canteen operator walking towards us
“Sorry boss, gas got over. I had to change the cylinder” Operator spoke to Arjun
“That is not my problem” Arjun mumbled
Operator looked at Arjun and at me
“It is ok bhaiyya, thank you for the Bhaji” I reached my hand to get the plate from his hand.
I looked at the 4 steaming hot bhaji served with a small bowl of tomato sauce and mint chutney. I suddenly didn’t feel like eating it anymore. I hated the Bhaji, I hated Arjun.
He was really mean to the canteen operator. I hated mean people. If the operator had enough resources, he would have gone to a medical college and studied to become a doctor. Instead he ended up serving food to those who had the resources. But that didn’t give anyone any right to be mean.
“What are you waiting for?” Arjun was looking at the untouched egg bahjis
“It is hot Arjun”
“Why are you screaming at me?”
“I didn’t scream at you. You are being unreasonable”
“Me unreasonable? After all I have done?”
I knew where he was heading. 25000 rupees was written nice and bold in the account of obligations. All it took was 10 days. My mother just had to wait 10 bloody days for me to come back. She had no business to go to Arjun’s house and borrow the money.
I didn’t reply. Arjun was staring at me and I knew he was waiting for me to apologize. I was sick and tired of apologizing.
Arjun pushed the chair backwards, took his lab coat and key from the table and walked out.
“Go to hell” I muttered. But he was already out of earshot.
“Bhaiyya, can you pack this for me? I will eat in the hostel” I took the plate and walked to the counter.
“Sure Madam” He was looking at me and may be he understood not to ask me any questions. I took the parcel from him and walked back to my hostel.
I just wanted to see Beautiful Eyes. I thought he would come to the Airport to pick me up. He didn’t and now I had no idea where he was. I was angry with him too. He and the stupid war he was fighting.
“How was the test Ma’am? One of the Junior girl sitting outside and studying asked
“Pretty good” I answered
“Have you seen Gangamma?” I asked her
“She was here just a few minutes ago. I think She went to the mess”
“Oh ok. Can you do me a favour?”
“give this to Gangamma” I passed the egg bhaji parcel to her and walked to my room.
I checked the clock. In about 20 minutes all the girls in my class would come back from the exam hall and discuss the questions that were asked for the test. I felt such a failure for handing in an empty sheet. I knew even the worst student would have written at least one answer. I took my bag, packed my patho and micro text books and walked out.
“Going home Ma’am” The same junior I spoke to earlier was still sitting outside
“you are so lucky ma’am. You can at least eat some nice home cooked meals” She spoke sadly
“hmm” I mumbled. If only she knew the truth
When I reached back home, the house looked normal and neat. My bags and all the stuff I brought was no where in the living room. Amma was in the kitchen and she came out to see who was at the door. She was wearing one of the sarees I bought from Dubai.
“Amma, where is all the stuff?” I asked
“I kept everything inside”
“I told you not to touch it Amma”
“Aiyyah Nina, You want me to leave everything in the living room? What if anyone comes for a visit”
Who is going to visit us? I thought of asking her. We have been exiled from both sides of the family and even our own family members have gone exile. So who was there to visit? But I didn’t want a fight.
“Where did you keep all the stuff?”
“In the cup board”
I walked in to Liza’s room and opened the Godrej cupboard. I had to return the 25000 rs!
“I was thinking, may be you should give this saree to Arjun’s mother” Amma spoke pointing to the saree she was wearing
“Then why are you wearing it?”
“Everyone does this”
“Remember Reena? Our neighbour down the road in Kottyayam? She used to wear all the sarees her husband brought from Dubai at least once before she gave it to her relatives.”
“How can you be like this Amma? Why can’t you be decent? Why do you have to wear it, if you have to give it to someone?”
“Ah athangana.. You won’t understand” Amma shook her head
“Where did you keep my saree Amma?” I wanted to see if any of my blouse would suit that saree.
“It is in the cup board Nina”
“Where in the cup board Amma”
“All the sarees are in there” Amma pointed to the right side of the cup board. There was only three sarees there
“Where is the white saree?”
“There is only one white saree and I told you before I went, not to touch it. Where is it?”
“Oh that one, I gave it to Maria “
“What do you mean Amma?”
“Oh Nina, that colour suits Maria better you, even Acha said the same”
“Acha? Acha was here? Why was he here?” I screamed
“Stop screaming Nina” Amma was yelling
“Why was Acha here?” I screamed even more louder.
“Acha was here to collect the stuff Appa send for Maria” Amma yelled
“Appa send for Maria?”
“Yah. The lunch box and the sarees and the hand bag Appa send for Maria”
I thought I was dreaming. I couldn’t believe what my mother was talking. Appa didn’t send any damn thing. I bought it. In stead of spending all the money and buy things I wanted, I decided to share the money he gave me with my sisters and buy them all something.
“Amma, I told you, take any saree, but leave the white one for me. Why did you give my saree to Maria and how did Acha know I went to Duabi?”
“Amma,phoned Acha and asked him to come and collect the stuff for Maria” Sally spoke. I turned to look at her. She was standing at the door way and watching us.
“Shut up” Amma yelled at her
“Sally, did you hear me telling Amma not to take the white colour saree?” I asked her.
She nodded her head
“Nina, you are wearing a lab coat all the time. Who is going to notice the saree you are wearing underneath your coat? Maria is working in a big company, She needs good sarees. Everything is not always about you Nina” Amma tried to explain.
All I wanted was one single saree and even that I was not entitled to. Even that went to Maria because she was older and works in a big company.
It didn’t matter what I wanted.
I was just a useless cotter pin that was bend and split just to hold this damn family together. Who the hell cared for the damn cotter pin?