When someone said ‘as different as night and day’, they would have been talking about Bangalore streets. The streets came alive as soon as the sun rose as if on cue. The marwadi matriarch from the corner house was yelling at her daughter in law who was sweeping the courtyard. I watched the daughter in law keeping the broom to the side and running inside. I watched the old lady looking inside and muttering. I tried to guess what she was muttering. She most likely would have said
‘Good for nothing!’
Wasn’t that the sacred manthra for all mother’s in law?
I heard bicycle bells ringing and I looked down. The milk man was standing in front of Mrs. Nagesh’s house, waiting for her to come out and collect the milk.
I could hear Amma taking the pot from the plate rack.
“I will get the milk” I spoke. I didn’t know why I volunteered. I didn’t have to. The new Nina never bothered about anyone.
No Nina, there is nothing wrong in being kind. I told myself. I knew Amma was growing old and her knees hurt. I don’t lose anything by going down and getting the milk. I just couldn’t be that selfish, but I wanted to. Being mean was so easy for my family members, I wondered why I didn’t inherit the mean genes?
I took the pot from Amma’s hands and opened the door and walked down the steps. I remembered each time I went with Akkachi to collect the milk. The stories she used to tell me and how much I loved her. When each and every member of my family turned against me, there was always Akkachi to lean on. Each and every time I asked Amma for Akkachi’s address and when she never gave, I used to tell myself, one day I will find Akkachi. I will go to Trivandrum and find her. I wanted to take care of her in her old age, just as she took care of me when I was young. I used to dream of Akkachi helping me to raise my children, tell them the stories she used to tell me. I knew she would make a super grandmother.
My heart felt so heavy and I could hardly breath.
I opened the gate and gave the milk man the pot. I watched him opening the can and using the metal ladle, he scooped the milk and poured inside the pot. He passed the pot back to me and I held it carefully and started to climb up the steps. I looked up to see Amma standing near the top of the steps and watching me. I remembered holding Akkachi’s hand and walking up the temple steps.
Then it all came to me
I was always trying to replace Amma wasn’t I?
Ammachi, Akkachi were like a mother for me weren’t they?
But both of them failed me. Didn’t they?
But my Amma, she was always there. Wasn’t she?
She carried me for nine months and gave me life. Didn’t she?
And I wanted to take care of Akkachi in her old age!
“onnu vegam konduvarunnundo aa palu”( can you please hurry up?) Amma was irritated with me.
“ok Amma” I replied.
I saw Amma frowning. I knew she was actually expecting me to say some tharuthala(talk back).
I couldn’t resist smiling and quickly walked up the rest of the steps and handed the milk pot to her. She grabbed the pot from my hand and huffed and went inside the house. I stood there and watched her walking to the kitchen and switching on the gas fire.
I wanted to hold her hands and tell her that I will always be there for her. But that would have been too sentimental. I promised in my heart
‘I will take care of you Amma. I will always be there for you’.

2 thoughts on “

  1. Is this all fiction? Or is it really about your life? Sorry if I sound rude. I’m not doubting you, but I don’t seem to understand how you could have had all the conversations you did if you were deaf and dumb…….as in, I don’t understand how you can make out what someone is saying when their hands are occupied in hitting or strangling you. I don’t understand how you can describe images and colors so vividly when you’ve never seen them. I don’t understand how you can spell out Malayalam words in English when in fact you have never heard those words (you do need to know what a word sounds like before you spell it in a different language).

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