Aparna was walking up and down the corridor and revising when she saw me.
“Oh Nina, Did you know we have Pharmacology internals today? Why did you have to go and visit your father when you knew you have internals?? Did you revise for the Pharmacology test? Prof Murthy said he is going to use today’s marks for internals! Oh God Nina! What are you going to do? What are you going to do if you fail?” Aparna was staring at me.
I had no idea what I was going to do. I had studied Pathology because it was my weak subject. But Pharmacology was my favourite subject and the only reason I didn’t revise early was because I thought I had 2 days to prepare for the test.
“What time is the test?” I asked Aparna
I looked at my watch. 1:37 pm.
I looked at Aparna, hoping she would have some idea as to what I should do? How was I going to revise entire part 1 syllabus in less than 30 minutes? Perhaps she would have some idea about the possible questions
“Any idea what is going to be the main Question?” I asked her
“Prof Murthy said it will be from Autonomic nervous System”
“Ok, Thanks Aparna”
I ran to my room and took my notes out. I tried to read as much as I can. I just wanted to know the points and I knew I could elaborate at the exam hall. I tried to stay calm and read. I kept flipping the pages in the folder to see how much more I had to read. There was so much to read.
“Nina, come let us go. It is already 1:50 pm” Aparna opened the door and called me
1:50? So fast? I looked at the clock. Aparna was right, It was 1:50.
I was on the verge of panic. I had not revised even 1/10 of the subject. But I knew, it was ok. After all I wrote Anatomy part 2 final exam without revising. If I could write and pass Anatomy without failing, then I sure can write Pharmacology exam. I had scored the highest marks in every single pharmacology class tests.
I closed my folder, took my pencil case from the drawer and walked to the exam hall with Aparna.
“Where is Shylaja?”
“She is with the other Kannadiga students” Aparna
“hmm” I mumbled
“Nina, wait up” I heard someone shouting.
I turned to look.
“Hi Arjun” I spoke
“Did you get my message?” He asked
“yeah. thanks”
“Your mom came to my house the other day” He spoke.
Aparna was looking at both of us. I looked at Arjun, begging with my eyes, please Arjun, please don’t tell Aparna that my mom came to your house to borrow money from your father. May be Arjun noticed that Aparna was watching us, he didn’t say anything else about my mother.
“Did Liza get selected?” He asked
“For what?”
“She was telling me that she might get selected for Sports Authority of India’s training”
“Oh that, I don’t know, I didn’t get a chance to ask her that” I lied
I had no idea what training and selection was Liza talking about. But more than that, I felt uneasy. What was my sister doing with my classmate? I was not in love with Arjun and I wasn’t possessive, but still there was something about the whole thing that bothered me.
“Don’t be stupid Nina, you don’t own Arjun”. Sensible one spoke
“I never said I did” I replied
“Then what is your problem if your sister is going out with your classmate?” Sensible one asked
“There is no problem. Now shut up. I have an exam to write” I told her off
“Nina, I am talking to you” Arjun spoke
“yeah, what?” I looked at him
“How was your trip?”
“Good” I replied.
“have you revised everything?” Arjun asked
“No. I was planning to study and revise this week end” I replied.
“Oh Nina, why would you have to revise? You are a walking Pharmacology encyclopedia. I saw your Assignment on Cholinergics. My God Nina, most of your points were not from our Text books. where do you get all these information?”
“Found a book on Pharmacology at the British Library” I replied.
I felt so proud. I knew I was a good student. It felt so good to know that even Arjun felt the same way.
“What about you? Have you revised everything” I asked him
“Me? revise? Nah,Nah Nah. Me don’t believe in such things. I studied 10 most common questions from the past 5 years. If you take the probability, Prof Murthy might choose 4 out of 10 questions I studied. Even if those questions come as short Question, each gets 5 marks. We only need 20 marks!! So there!” Arjun was smiling
“oh. Which ones did you study?” I asked.
“Principles of drug action, Muscle relaxants, Local Anaesthetics and Anti histamins”
“oh” I replied. Damn I thought, I haven’t revised any of those.
Prof Murthy was already in the lecture hall when we walked in and Arjun wished me “good luck Nina”quickly and started to walk up the stairs.
Prof Murthy was looking at me. I hoped he didn’t notice Arjun wishing me. I didn’t want to get in to unnecessary trouble. Girls and boys are not supposed to talk to each other.
According to even the most well educated Professors, It is an offence for girls and boys to talk with each other.They are convinced that talking leads to romance, which in turn leads to petting and loss of virginity. To prevent the loss of virginity, it is important that girls and boys don’t talk to each other.
I looked down and walked quietly to my favourite spot, first seat in the front row near the middle, facing the professor and sat down.
“All notebooks in the corner please and remember, If I find anyone copying, the person who copied and the person who let his friend copy will be asked to leave the exam hall immediately and both will get a total score of Zero ” Prof Murthy Announced
“Ahhh” Most of the boys at the back seats sighed loud.. I wasn’t the only one who didn’t revise for the exam!
Prof Murthy started passing the question paper and I took a copy and started to read. I wasn’t really worried. Like Arjun said, All I needed was 20 marks to pass. I glanced at the questions trying to see which one I should attempt first. First 2 main questions were on Anti histamins and Myasthenia gravis I didn’t know the answer. Each carried 10 marks. I didn’t know the answer to either of the main questions. My hands started to shake and my mind was going blank. I looked at all the short questions again and again. I couldn’t remember the answer to a single question.
No this can’t be happening. I checked the questions again. I should know something. My brain was like a sea of blackness. I just couldn’t remember anything. Everyone around me was writing the answers. I knew even Arjun would be able to answers the main questions.
I had nothing to write. I tried to concentrate and visualize my text book. I could usually visualize the pages, but today I couldn’t visualize anything. I couldn’t visualize and I couldn’t remember the answers. I felt so incredibly stupid.

I realized, I couldn’t just sit there in the front seat and not write anything on my answer sheet. I didn’t want to write another Titanic story and get in to trouble either. I watched Prof Murthy going out of the lecture hall to speak to another Professor.
I took my answer sheet, kept it up side down on Prof’s desk and walked out.
5 seconds later I heard footsteps right behind me. I hoped it wasn’t Prof Murthy. I didn’t want to get caught. I quickened my pace.
“Nina Wait” I heard the familiar voice
“What are you doing?” I asked him
“Keeping you company”
“What do you mean keeping me company?”
ek duje ke liye, hai nah?” He was smiling
I looked at him trying to see what he was talking about. May be he understood my confusion. He spoke
“Nina, I know you didn’t have time to revise and I could see from the back bench that you didn’t write anything.”
“So nothing. I just wanted to keep you company. chal, let’s go and drink some tea” Arjun was walking towards the canteen. I didn’t know what to feel.
I just handed in an empty answer sheet for the Pharmacology internals and my classmate decided to hand in an empty answer sheet as well to keep me company? He knew the answers for the first 2 main questions and still decided to hand in an empty sheet because he wanted to keep me company!

One time when I was 12 or 13 years old, I remember sitting outside the house and waiting for my mother to return home. It was getting dark and the mosquitoes were having feast on my body. As I sat there, I imagined what would happen if anything happened to my mother. Who would take care of us? Where would we go? Would we have to go and live in an orphanage? The prospects of a life without my mother was bleak.
I remember feeling so angry with Amma for not coming back home on time. I just wanted a life without worries. I just wanted the surety that my mother is alive and we won’t be orphans.
Then I saw her opening the main gate, while holding a 5 kg brown paper bag in one hand and trying to juggle another plastic bag and her hand bag in the other hand. I could have got up and opened the gate for her. But I didn’t. I was just so angry with her for making me so worried.
Then Amma saw me sitting there and I was expecting to hear an earful of curses for not opening the gate. Instead I heard her telling me
“Nina get ready quickly, I want to show you something”
Then she called my sisters and asked them to get ready as well.
“Where are we going Amma?” I asked her
“Secret” She had a wicked grin on her face.
We begged, pleaded, begged some more as we started walking with her to the unknown. We passed the parade ground and I knew she was going to buy us peanuts from the seller in front of the collectorate. But she took a right turn. That road went to the railway station. Too late to buy naranga vellam( lime juice), may be she was going to buy us some narangamuttai (candies). When we reached the Logos Building Amma took a left turn. I knew where Amma was going. She was going to buy us Chicken from Trivandrum chicken corner. My mouth watered at the thought of eating the spicy chicken. But when we reached the shop, Amma continued to walk.
“Where are we going Amma?” I asked again
“Come, I will show you soon”
“Are you going to the park?” I didn’t want to go to the park down the 70 feet road. Not at this time of the day.
“Who will want to go to the park at this time Nina?” Amma answered
She took another left turn( I think the street was called G.S. Street ?Good Shepherd Street). We walked for another 5 minutes. There was no street light anywhere and the road was deserted. I was getting scared. But Amma kept walking.
The DC books shop or something like that was on the left side, there was an advocate’s house next to that. Then Amma took a right turn( there was a shoe shop there. But it was already closed for the day) and started to walk down a steep road.
ethu pathalathilano entey amma njangaley kondupovunnathu..( which hell are we heading to) I wondered. We walked all the way down the road, passing dimly lit houses and then I saw the most beautiful sight I ever I saw in my life.
Almost at the bottom of the road there was a house on the right side, fully lit with thousands of diyas.
We just stood there mesmerised.
There were lots of times I hated my mother, but there were also times, she did remarkable things that showed me that, some where beyond all those darkness there was light. Because my mother knew how much I loved to see the diyas lit on Deepavali.
I will be lighting the diyas this evening and like all the Deepavali before, I will tell my children about the walk with my mother that day.. How their grandmother made my day by such a simple gesture.

Dear Readers
May the light shines in your life always. Wishing you all a very happy Deepavali.
ps: I think that house belonged to Adoor Pathman brother of Adoor bhasi.

We have long weekend here, so will be away until Monday.
Take care

As soon as the auto stopped in front of my house, I saw Amma opening the front door and looking.
“She is here” Amma shouted and started to run down the stairs.
“Liza, Sally come and help us with the bags” Amma shouted.
Amma took the Fly Buy Dubai plastic bag from my hand, Liza lifted the bag from the auto. She and Sally tried to carry my suitcase up the stairs. I took the money from my handbag and paid the driver.
Liza and Sally were struggling to carry the bag.
“You hold this end of the suitcase” Liza was shouting at Sally and telling her where to hold
“Stop yelling at me” Sally spoke
“You are dumb” Liza spoke
“Then you carry the bag” Sally dropped the bag and started to walk upstairs.
aiyyah, you both have to start the fight in the morning itself ah?”Amma started
“What did I do?” Liza asked Amma
“Nothing, just carry the bag upstairs” Amma spoke
“I am not your servant, why don’t you carry it yourself?” Liza left the bag on the road and started to walk up the stairs.
We must have made such a din, because the land lady came out to see what all the noise was about.
“Oh!Hi Nina, You are home! how was your trip?”
“It was good aunty”
“How is your father?”
“He is fine aunty”
“hmm” Aunty mumbled and I knew she didn’t know whatelse to talk
“I will see you in a while aunty. I need to take a shower”
“Sure Nina” Aunty went back inside.
I tried to lift the bag and carry it upstairs. It was heavy and the steps were narrow.
“You hold one end and I will hold the other end” Amma spoke
“It is ok Amma, I will carry”
I felt, if I could bring this bag all the way fom Dubai, then I can carry it up the stairs without anyone’s help. I was so angry. I bought all the things for my sisters and they couldn’t even help me carry the bloody bag up the stairs? I started to drag the suitcase up the stairs
“Nina stop! you are damaging the bag” Amma was shouting. She tried to nudge me away and grab the bag. But the steps were too narrow for two of us
“Amma move” I hissed
ellam nashipicho, nashippikkanundaya oru janmam, kashu kodukkandu ethokkey veruthey kittu vo (born to destroy everything.. does she think all these can be bought without money?)” Amma cursed
I ignored her. I wanted the bag to be spoiled, why should I take good care of the bag? For whom should I keep it for? My ungrateful sisters?
I was gasping by the time I reached the main door. Liza and Sally were sitting on the mattress couch.
“What did you get for us Nina?” Sally asked
I thought of telling her nintey Ammayi appantey thala (your father in law’s head). But I controlled my temper. I was thirsty, so I asked Amma
“Can I have something to drink?”
“Why didn’t you send the money Nina?” Amma asked
“huh?” I didn’t understand her response to my question. I was asking for something to drink. Why is she asking for money?
“huh? You didn’t know I had to pay Sally’s school fees? You promised you will send the money.Why didn’t you send?”
“Amma I couldn’t. I didn’t have a bank account and besides I couldn’t tell Appa that I want to send money to you”
“I had to borrow money from Arjun’s father to pay the fees”
“What? What did you say?”
“I borrowed money from Arjun’s father, what else can I do?”
“Arjun? Why Amma, why did you borrow money from his family?”
“You borrowed the money for the ticket from him, didn’t you? So what is your problem? Why are you screaming at me because I borrowed money from his family? It is only for a shortwhile No?”
No, it wasn’t ok. It certainly wasn’t ok for my mother to go to my classmate’s house and borrow money to pay my sister’s school fees. How could my mother do this to me? besides I lied to her when she asked where I got the money for the ticket. I borrowed the money from Beautiful Eyes, not from Arjun
“No Amma, you had no right to go to Arjun’s house and borrow money. He is my classmate, not my banker” I yelled
“oh like that ah. It is ok for you to borrow, but not ok for me to borrow to pay your sister’s school fees. I didn’t borrow to go for a trip to Dubai, I borrowed it to pay for my daughter’s school fees”
I didn’t reply. What was the point in arguin with my mother when she knows just what to say to hurt me. Then I remembered something
“Amma,How did you know where Arjun stays?” I asked Amma.
I have never taken Amma to Arjun’s house. How did she know?
“You told me once”
“No Amma, I never told you”
“You did Nina, May be you have forgotten”
“No Amma, I have never told you where Arjun stays, because I know you would give the address to George and he will start the next session of anonymous letters to Arjun’s father. I am not that stupid to give you Arjun’s address.”
Amma shrugged her shoulder. My God! That is all I could think? Does George know about Beautiful Eyes too? I looked at my mother to see if she knew anything else!
“Nina, what did you bring for me?” Sally asked
nintey Ammayi Appantey thala” I screamed as loud as I can. I just had to scream. I was sick and tired of my family.
“Why are you yelling at her. Poor child, she was waiting and waiting for you to come home to see what you got for her. She didn’t even go to school this morning and you are yelling at her? What did she do to you? How can you be so mean to a child like that Nina?” Amma asked.
I took the key from hand bag and opened the suitcase. Liza and sally opened the zipper and started to take things out
“This is mine” Liza yelled and started taking things out. Both of them were fighting as to who gets what.
“Amma can I have something to drink” I asked again
oh maduthu, drink, drink drink!! Can’t you go and get yourself a drink?” Amma asked
Of course I could. After all I have been getting my drink myself all these times any way. What difference did it make now that I just came home after a long and tiring journey. I got up to get the drink, leaving the vultures to go through their rightful assets.
“Liza arrange all the things neatly on the bed”Amma instructed. I saw her taking the snow flakes Dinner plates and examining. Then she looked at me
“Did you get the whole set?”
“No, it was expensive Amma, I couldn’t afford to get the full set”
“Oh!What is the point of having just the plates?” Amma shrugged her shoulder. I thought of taking the plate and hit Amma on her head. But I knew Correlle plates were designed not to break. There was no point wasting my energy.
“What is this?” Amma took the thermos lunch box and asked
“It is a lunch box. I got it for Chechy. She can pack her lunch inside and it will stay warm for atleast 4 hours. She won’t have to eat cold lunches”
oh pinney, she is going to pack her lunch inside this and take it to work, when she can get fresh hot food at the office cafeteria!”
I saw Liza looking at me feet
“Nina, did you get shoes for me?”
“Yeah, this shoes is for you” I started to untie the shoe laces
“Why did you have to wear my shoes? See Amma, she wore my shoes” Liza started to whine
“I wore it, because I couldn’t tell Appa that these shoes were for you.”
oh pinney, Why? Is he going to eat you up because you bought shoes for your sister? You just wanted to wear your sisters shoes, that is all, No? Why don’t you tell the truth Nina?” Amma spoke
There were lots of truths I wanted to tell. But like all the times before, truths stayed silent. There was no point in saying the truth. No one was interested in the truth.
I saw Liza taking all the t shirts I bought for myself, apart from the cloths I bought for her. I wanted to tell her, those t shirts are mine, but then again chances were that I would be called selfish. Why fight, when I can always ask Liza to share the cloths later?
“Nina, why did you buy the kettle without a plug?” Amma was holding the kettle up and examining
“That is how they sell it there”
oh pinney, This is the first time I saw kettle without a plug, now I must waste my money and get a plug for this. Why don’t you ever do things properly? Did you get this kettle for a discount because it didn’t have a plug? I know you would have. You are like your father. Stingy!”
“Leave it there, you don’t have to waste your money, I will get a plug for you”
Amma threw the kettle on the mattress couch.
I felt so disappointed. I bought the kettle for her, so she can make coffee any time, instead of boiling the water on the gas fire. It wasn’t my fault that the kettle didn’t come with a plug. They guy at the shop told me that the plug point in India is different and there is no point taking the square pin plug with me.

Amma was exmining the sarees
“Amma, that white saree with brown flowers is mine” I had to stake my claims. All the t shirts I got for me had gone. At least I wanted the saree. I really liked that white saree.
I bought 6 sarees, 2 for you, 2 for me, 2 for Chechy, you can take any of the saree, but leave the white one for me”
“What about Aunty?”
“Which aunty?”
“Aunty downstairs”
“Oh, I didn’t bring a saree for her”
pinney enna mannankatti aa pokki kkondu vanney? (what other crap did you bring?) What about Arjun’s mother?”
“What about Arjun’s mother?”
” I thought she treated you like a daughter and she was better than me”
“She is, so?”
“So you don’t have to bring anything for your ‘other’ mother?”
I could have bought everything for the whole world, but I didn’t have a magic wand. I could only get this much stuff for 1500 dirhams.
“Oh I forgot, Arjun had left a message for you. Your exams are preponed”
“When, which exams?”
“I think Pharmacology or something like that”
“When is the exam Amma?”
“Liza, when did he say the exam was?” Amma asked Liza
“I think he said Friday?”
I wanted to ask What Liza was doing with Arjun, but that was secondary. Today is Friday. I chose the Thursday flight from Dubai and the friday morning flight to Bangalore from Bombay, because my exam was supposed to be on Monday and I would get Saturday and Sunday to revise. And the exam is today? Oh my goodness. If I miss the internals, I will lose the rank and the gold medal. Damn.
“Amma did he say what time the exam was?”
“How am I supposed to remember all these Nina?” Amma lifted her hands up to the air to surrender
“Never mind”
“I will come back this evening and sort out all the things. I have to go now” I grabbed my stuff and ran down the steps. The luggage tag was stil on my handbag and I pulled it out and left it on the step.
athu avidey ittittu pokko, vela cheyyan velakaari ayi oru thalla undallo evidey ( leave that tag there on the ground, you have a servan to clean after you, don’t you!)” I heard Amma speaking. I ignored her. I wondered if she knew what she was talking!

As I sat in the departure lounge, I looked at my feet. There was a small scuff mark on the right shoe. I knew Liza would be upset that I wore her brand new Nike sports shoes, but there was no other way I could take it back to India. I didn’t want to disappoint my sister, so I wet the tip of my dupatta with my saliva and tried to rub off the scuff mark. The marks didn’t go. It stayed the same way, like all those things I wanted to forget. It just doesn’t disappear or vanish.
I thought of throwing the shoes away. I could always tell Liza that I couldn’t get a shoe for her. But her life, her future, how can I destroy that? She is my sister for heaven’s sake. If I am not there for her, who else would be there?
All I wanted that moment and every other moment in my life was to be free from being responsible for everyone. All I wanted was to be selfish just once in my life be me and not worry about anyone else.
But I couldn’t be me. I am Nina Thomas, the one entrusted with taking care of my mother and sisters. There were others before me and they all walked away. But I couldn’t. I wanted to.
I so very badly wanted to.
How could I?
Even when my desire to live ebbed away, I couldn’t walk away.
I didn’t want to live anymore. Death was an easy option. I knew death would liberate me from my burdens. But I couldn’t take my own life, because if I did so, then no one would marry my younger sisters. As their older sister, I was supposed to take care of them, not hurt them in anyway. I couldn’t do that to them.
To live a life not worth to live was my Karma.
I wanted to run away, far far away from my Karma. May be I should go to Himalayas and live in some monastery, away from everyone in my life. I heard the sensible one laughing and asking
“Do you think anyone would marry your sisters if they knew their older sister ran away from home and joined some cult group in the Himalayas?”
“It is not a cult group, it is a monastery” I tried to explain
“Whatever” she replied
“Whatever” I imitated her and noticed the man sitting in front of me staring at me. I knew he was thinking if I was gone mad. Even I was thinking the same.Have I gone mad? What if all these are my imaginations? May be I had some accident and I was in coma. May be one day I would wake up from my coma and the world would be as beautiful as it should be. My parents living together happily( without fighting), Maria living with her husband and my nieces and nephews( I didn’t mind having a nephew named Judas)Liza and Sally doing well in their studies. I could even picture Amma’s dream house. She had told me once about her dream house. A four story house in Bangalore with a lovely garden in front. She wanted to name the house Manilas(‘Ma’ria,”Ni”na,”L”isa “A”nd”S”ally). I laughed at her that day and told her
“Amma,it sound like Manila, capital of Philippines”.
“Why are you laughing? it doesn’t sound like Manila, it sound like Kailas”
Kailas? Mount Kailas? I thought of telling her, it didn’t sound like Kailas, besides any place where my parents live together can’t be compared to Kailas (where Lord Shiva sits with his wife Parvati) but my mother was talking about her dream and I didn’t want to fight with her.
“But Amma, why do you want to build a four story house? Why do you want such a big house? and who is going to clean it?”
you manukku ( dumbo), four levels, so each of you can stay in one level, so all of you will be together”
“Oh like that, so where are you going to stay?”
“Appa and I will take turn and stay with each of you”
“Amma,Better still, When Appa stays with me, you stay with Maria, so in that way we can avoid the fireworks!! Alley Amma?
May be Amma too wasn’t in a fighting mood, because she didn’t retort that day. Instead she asked me
“Do you think my dream will come true Nina?”
“Of course Amma. Even if Appa didn’t build you a house, I will, I promise”
I knew I wasn’t in a coma. I had promises to keep.
I had school fees to pay.
I also had 2 sarees,a make up kit, three bottles of nail polish, a thermos lunch box and a leather handbag to give to Maria
2 Sarees, 12 correlle snowflakes dinner plates, an electric kettle, cutting board and a jasmine perfume for my mother
Pencils, pens, backpack, Nike shoes, plenty of dresses for Liza
28 colours sketch pens, a pink colour diary, lots of dresses for Sally
1 bought it all with 1500 Dirhams and paid with my soul.

“Appa, I am tired. I am going to bed” I spoke
“oh ok, good night Nina” My father was grinning. There was something about that grin. I wasn’t sure why, but the grin made me very uncomfortable.
“Good night Appa” I replied and quickly turned back and walked towards my room.
“How come Nina, you don’t give any goodnight kiss for your father?”I remember those times you waited up for me, so I could tuck you to bed and give you a goodnight kiss. You never let your mother tuck you to bed”I heard Appa speaking.
It was true, I used to wait for Appa to come back home. I never let Amma tuck me to bed.
But there was something that bothered me. As though there was a wall somewhere at the back of my mind.
There was something else. I knew there was something else about Appa tucking me to bed and giving him a goodnight kiss.
Suddenly I felt the walls around me crumbling. Through the cracks, I could hear Tante sobbing and talking to Amma. I remembered that evening after Tante left, Amma was acting like a mad woman, screaming and yelling and shouting at us. I didn’t want to be anywhere near her, so I went and sat on the veranda. I knew I didn’t have to wait too long. Appa should be home soon and he would save me from Amma’s madness.
Then I heard Amma opening the front door. I didn’t have enough time to hide behind the pillar.
“Nina” She screamed. “What are you doing outside?”
“Nothing Amma. I was just sitting here”
Like a hurricane, my mother ran towards me and pulled my ear and dragged me towards the front door
“Amma, please, let go off my ear. You are hurting me” I tried to pull her hand away from my ear my room. She kept pulling my ear and dragging me all the way to my room. She opened the door and pushed me inside
“From now on, you will stay in your room. Do you understand that Nina Thomas” I looked at my mother bewildered.
“Your father will not tuck you to bed from now on. You will go to bed on your own. You are no longer a little baby, do you understand that Nina Thomas?”
I didn’t understand anything. I didn’t understand why my mother was so mean to me. I looked forward to my father spending time with me before I went to bed. I loved the stories he used to tell me. I loved to learn about the stars and the constellations. And now Amma was taking that away from me? Why? Was it because Appa always tucked me to sleep and not Maria? I hated my nasty mean mother. I hated every bit of my mother. I knew for sure Amma didn’t like me, that is why she was being so mean to me. That is what I thought all these years. Suddenly I understood why Amma looked at me in the eyes when I was leaving for Dubai and spoke
money, be careful” and I thought she meant be careful while travelling.

I quickened my steps. The one advantage being deaf is you can pretend not to hear things you don’t want to hear.
My heart started to pound. I concentrated hard and listened for sounds of footsteps, to see if Appa was walking behind me.
I quickly opened my room door, entered the room and shut the door. I leaned on the door, half expecting Appa to come and knock at the door.
My whole body was shaking. A part of me kept telling me that you are imagining all these, but I shook my head and said “No”I knew I wasn’t imagining. I couldn’t have imagined the evil grin on my father’s face. Besides Tante never came home after that day. So did all my cousins. Penang Ammachi never allowed my cousins to visit us or stay with us. All these while I thought everyone in my mother’s family was jealous of us. That was why they never kept in touch with us. Now I understood why.
I looked around the room. The only furniture that I could move was the stool in front of the dressing mirror. I pulled the stool towards the door and kept it leaning against the door. I knew it was such a stupid idea, even a child can kick that stool and it would move.
In the room next to me was the man, who fathered me, the man who should protect me, take care of me and I was hoping a small wooden stool would protect me from him.

Today’s blog took all my strength to write. Finally the demons that haunted me all these years are free. I hoped freeing them would give me the peace of mind.. but right now all I feel is empty..