I just wanted to escape.
Away from Amma, far far away from her and go to a place where she can never hurt me. I never understood why my mother never cared for me. Why? Why doesn’t she ever care for me like the way she cares for my sisters? What have I done to her?
I sat down on Liza’s bed. I could hear Amma and Sally arguing. I knew Amma was going after her for telling me about the phone call to Acha. I didn’t want Acha to come home, so he won’t hurt my sisters. But that wasn’t possible. My mother continued to date the devil. And if I don’t do something,my sisters too would become the sacrifice for the devil. What was I going to do? How can I stay at home and take protect my sisters? I can’t. I have to attend classes at the college. I have to teach Liza and Sally how to protect themselves.
“You are stupid and dumb like your sister” I heard Amma shouting to Sally
“May be the dumbness and the stupidity is inherited from you Amma” I heard Sally replying.
“nee entha paranjey? Enikku vattanno nno? (What did you say? That I am mad?)”
“I didn’t say you are mad Amma” Sally sounded almost apologetic
“nee onnum konam pidikkathilladi, entey kazhuthinu meley jeevan undenkil, njan parayunnathu nee ketto, nee konam pidikkathilla. Aha!”
I could actually picture Amma’s face that moment. Big bulgy eyes, every single wrinkle on her forehead would stick out and her neck would be stretched. Kind of like an Ostrich’s head.
I started to laugh. I could see the ottaka pakshi chasing me around the school property with a stick in her hand and asking me to go back to class, when all I wanted was to run away from the school and the pakshi.
I heard footsteps outside the door and I looked up. I wanted to wipe the smile off my face and keep a straight face, but Sally had already seen my face.
“Why are you smiling Nina?” She asked
“I wasn’t smiling”
“I saw” She looked in to my eyes and I didn’t feel like lying
“I was thinking about Ostrich” I replied
“What about Ostrich?” She came and sat next to me
“I was wondering why anyone would want to name a bird Camel bird?”
“Camel Bird?” Sally was staring at me
“Yeah. Camel Bird. What is Ostrich in Malayalam?” I asked Sally
“ottakapakshi” Sally replied. Then she looked at me. It took a few seconds for her to realize and then she burst out laughing.
“Oh my God Nina, that is so funny. Do you know any more names like that?” She asked
I tried to think, Simham, kaduva, kiduva….nothing. I couldn’t think of anything else.
“Nah, I don’t know anymore words like that”
“Do you think all this would come true?”
“All this what? What are you talking about Sally?”
“Amma’s curses! She has been cursing me so much. My friend Kajal told me, curses always come true. What do you think Nina? Do you think I will suffer all my life? Just now I didn’t tell that Amma was mad. I was upset with her for giving Maria your saree. You know something? She didn’t even ask Acha if that saree would suit Maria. She herself took the saree from the cupboard and put in the plastic bag for Acha to take. She was lying to you. I am sorry Nina, you didn’t get to wear your favourite saree”
“Look here” I turned Sally towards me
“Lesson number 1, You must always remember, curses are nothing but loose words created just to instill fear. There is no mighty power out there, that would listen to the curses and make it come true. Do you think, if I scream and tell you that you are going to win a lottery today, it would come true?” I asked her
“No that is not possible”
“Same way, if I tell you, you will never do well, is that going to come true?”
Sally was looking at me. I could still see the fear in her eyes. I used to have the same fear. I used to be so afraid of Amma’s curses. Who would have wanted a future full of misery and suffering? ‘Present’ itself was nothing short of a nightmare and I didn’t want my precious future to be anything like my present. Amma knew that and she knew just how to use it for her advantage
Shut up now or I will make sure your future is doomed! That was her motto. No, I wasn’t going to let Amma scare Sally like this.
“Sally, Amma has been cursing me since the time I was 3 or 4 years old. If her curses worked, do you think I would be doing medicine now?” I asked.
Some where at the back of my head the sensible one was awake and she started asking questions
“Are you sure Nina, her curses didn’t work? Don’t students and lecturers still scorn and mock you each day at the college? How many of them pass rude comments when you walk by them? Does any other student go through the same harassment you go through each day at the college?”
“That is because of the stupid letter George send” I replied
“I rest my case” She went back to sleep
“Go to hell” I mumbled
“What Nina?” Sally asked”
“Don’t worry Sally, Amma’s curses won’t come true. I want to tell you something else”
“Go, close the door”
“Listen to me. Go and close the door”
Sally got up and closed the door. She came and sat on the bed
“What?” She asked
“Can I ask you for a favour?”
“I want you to promise me something. If Acha came for a visit and Amma isn’t home. Don’t open the door”
“Just like that”
“Why can’t I open the door”
“Oh just listen to me will you? Don’t open the door and don’t ask questions. Ok?”
“Ok” Sally mumbled. I knew I didn’t say it the right way.
“Sally, Acha isn’t a good man. He is a very very very bad person”
“How do you know?” Sally was looking at me
What was I supposed to tell her?
Mysore house and the sounds of my sisters playing and cycling came rushing through my head. I shook my head pretty hard to shake the feelings away.
“I know. Ok. You just listen to me ok”
“Are you ok Nina?”
“then why is your hand shaking?”
“It is not shaking. I am just cold and tired that is why”
I laid down on the bed and pulled Liza’s blanket over my legs.
“Can I lay down with you?” Sally asked
“Sure” I moved to the side
“Can you tell me a story?” sally asked
“Yeah, remember all those times you would lay down next to me and tell me stories”
“You remember all those times?”
I remembered all those times. Appa and Amma would be arguing and fighting. We would hide in our room snuggled close to each other. I didn’t want my sisters to listen to Appa screaming
njan innu nintey kazhuthu arakkum ( I will slaughter you today).. I didn’t want my sisters to cry in fear and get in to more trouble. So I used to tell them stories to destract them.
I held my baby sister close to me. I knew I owed it to myself to protect her from Amma and Acha. I would do anything to protect my sisters.
“What story do you want?”
“Blue fox story”
“What colour do you want?”
“ok. Once up on a time, there was an old fox living by the edge of a small farm. The farmer had brought a new chicken coop and the fox couldn’t catch any more chickens. and the fox was hungry..
I am sure you guys know the story..? neelakurukkan?
When we were little, before I tell the story, my sisters would chose the colour of the dye in the bucket.. and now my kids do the same thing.. So we have purple fox, pink fox golden fox..etc
I just wanted to escape.