Some where at the back of my head, Elaine Caswell was singing ‘It is all coming back to me’
No, No, not that song. I tried to tell myself, but the song continued
I can barely recall, but it’s all coming back to me…now
It’s all coming back to me now
It was dead long ago but it’s all coming back to me
I can hardly recall but it’s all coming back to me now.
I remembered a little girl’s fight to save her dignity, those little rules one learns, because life teaches cruel lessons to those unprepared.
‘Never change clothes without locking the room doors’
‘Never take a shower when Appa is home’
‘Never lay down with Appa.’
Those rules were self learned and then passed on to the younger ones. I had to learn those rules by myself. There was no one to teach me. Because my mother was busy with her life that she never noticed what was going on in her own home.
‘No Nina, that wasn’t true’ I told myself. Amma wasn’t busy, she was blind.
I remembered the time I had enough of Appa and went to Amma and told her what was happening.
I remembered her anger. I remembered how the skin on my cheeks burned, after she slapped me.
No she wasn’t angry with Appa.
She was angry with me, because I should have known how to take care of myself. The same anger she had when I told her about George.
It was all my fault.
I looked at Amma, she was leaning against the door frame, one hand at her hip and the other hand on the kitchen counter. She looked so frail and weary. Not all like the ottaka pakshi who used to chase me around the school compound.
I switched off the fire, took the sieve and a cup from the plate rack and poured the coffee in to the cup. Even without lifting my head, I could feel Amma’s eyes staring at me.
palum num panajrakkum vela ethrannu ninakku ariyo? (do you know how expensive milk and sugar are now?)
I carefully poured the coffee in to the cup. I placed the pot in the sink and was just about to take the coffee cup and drink my coffee. Then I remembered
Entha nintey Ammayi amma kku vechakkuvano pathram? (Are you leaving the pots in the sink for your mother in law to come and wash?)
Quickly, I took the scrub and started to wash the pot. I thought I heard Amma sigh. May be she was sad that she didn’t get a chance to yell at me this evening. I was surely getting smarter!
I opened the tap.
Entha nintey thantha kashu tharumo vellathintey kashadakkan? ( is your father going to send the money to pay for the water?)
I quickly reduced the flow of water.The water was cold, but I didn’t curse. I kind of enjoyed the cold water falling on to my hand. May be I could wash everything away, may be the coldness would numb my heart. I placed my hand underneath the tap and let the water fall on to my hand, I tried to make a scoop with my palm and hold the water. I watched the water flowing through the gap between my fingers.
“Who was there for me? Who would have taken care of you?” I could hear Amma’s voice over and over
I squeezed my fist. It was all my fault. Everything was my fault. Amma didn’t fire Akkachi because there was no one to take care of me. If I was healthier, not born deaf and dumb and blind, then perhaps we didn’t need Akkachi.
If I wasn’t fairer, then perhaps Maria wouldn’t have been jealous
Actually it would have been so easy if I wasn’t born, then none of this would have happened.
I cursed the God for giving me life.
“vellam waste akkikko, ennu vecha nintey thantha alley kashu tharunney!” (waste the water, after all your father is paying the bills!) I heard Amma speak.
I turned off the tap, placed the coffee pot on the plate rack, took the coffee cup and started to walk towards the balcony
“You still haven’t told me” Amma spoke
“What?” I asked
“Who is your father staying with?”
“Oh pinney Sathyam parayadi (tell the truth Nina)”
“I told you No one. He is not staying with anyone. He is living alone”
I opened the door and walked out.
The truth was like an over infalted helium ballon in my chest. I wanted it gone, it was suffocating me.
I wanted to shout and tell the truth. But I couldn’t. Because there were no saints among the thieves.