I was sitting on my bed and revising when I heard the constant cawing of the crow.
“Shalyam, padikkanum sammathikkathlla..(pest!! won’t even let me concentrate on my studies)
I got up from the bed and walked to the window and looked outside to see where the stupid crow was sitting. I spotted the crow sitting on the tree near the basketball court.
“Shoo, Shoo” I yelled while waving my arms. Hoping the crow would understand without any doubt that it better stop cawing and annoying me or be doomed.
Actually the crow stopped cawing
Wow! I could tame a crow. I was proud of my abilities. With my head held high,I turned to walk back towards my bed and must have taken 2 steps, when the crow started cawing again
Bloody hell! I ran back to the window and shouted
“Hey, shoo shoo”
There were few senior students walking towards the basketball court and they all looked up to see who was yelling Hey shoo shoo from the ladies hostel.
I did what any sane person would do when faced with such a terrible situation.
I ducked my head and crawled all the way back to my bed. I hoped they didn’t see me. I couldn’t imagine being called “hey shoo shoo” every time I went to the hospital for the rounds.
I almost laughed thinking how stupid I was becoming.
pavam kakka! (poor crow). How was it supposed to know that it shouldn’t caw before exams and disturb students who were well known for last minute studies?
I remembered Amma teaching me my first Malayalam nursery rhyme
Kakkey kakkey
Koottinakathoru Kunjundo
Kunjinu theetta kodukkanjal
Kunju kidannu karayilley?”
I remembered sitting on Amma’s lap and her singing songs for me.
I remembered the time when I was around four years old, Appa had borrowed a music tape( english songs) from his friend and brought it home and played. Amma was sitting on the door step and I was sitting on her lap. Amma started to sing along.
My mother had such lovely voice. She knew most of the songs in that tape. I remembered asking Amma how she knew all those songs and Amma just smiled.
But there was something about that day that I couldn’t remember. I tried to think what it was. I just couldn’t remember.
I tried to remember all the other times Amma sang after that time.
There were none.
‘Why? Why didn’t my mother sing after that time?’
I closed my eyes. I knew there was something that I was blocking out.
I could see the blue door frame. I could see the Rattan chairs in the living room. I could see the tall mango tree outside the house near the corner. I could see the (brick wall)fence in front of the house. I could even see the green moss on top of the fence.
Maria and I used to play the mighty knight games with the top part of the moss( sporophyte?). We would hook the curved top part and pull. It was so much fun.
But that was not what I wanted to know.
I came back to the door step.
Amma was wearing Sarong and a blouse that day.
I remembered Amma wearing Sarong when she was expecting Sally. So she must have been pregnant with Liza, I thought.
Then it all came back to me.
Appa pulling Amma by her hair and Amma pushing me off her lap. I fell down and hit my head on the step. My head was hurting but I still ran inside. I saw Appa pushing Amma to the wall and I could hear Amma saying
“You are hurting the baby”
parayedi, whose baby is it? nee mattavantey koodey arunno? How did you know the songs? Where did you hear it?”
“Are you mad? What is wrong with you? I learned those songs at the women’s college. Emily used to play the guitar in the evening at the hostel and we used to sing along. Where else would I learn?”
“You are calling me mad? You think I am mad?” Appa kicked Amma and she fell down. I remember running towards her and Amma pushed me away
“Go Nina, go, get out, go to Tante’s house”
I wanted to save Amma. I didn’t want to go to Tante’s house. I had to protect Amma. Maria wasn’t home. She had gone for Christmas choir practice. It was my job to protect Amma when Maria wasn’t home.
Amma hit me so hard on my leg and yelled”go” and I ran as fast as I could. Away from the mean mother who pushed me and made me fall down and hit my head on the wall and then again hit me on my leg, when all I was trying to do was to save her.
I could hear Appa yelling at Amma
But I didn’t want to hear. I looked down to see the weals on my skin. It was red and my skin felt as though it was on fire.
I remembered thinking nobody loves me.
I didn’t go to Tante’s house. I waited for Maria to come back home. I remembered telling Maria that Appa and Amma fought again.
she asked me “why?”
“I don’t know” I replied.
“Why you don’t know anything? And what are you doing standing outside?” Maria sounded so annoyed
I remember thinking why is everyone so mad at me? What have I done wrong? How was I supposed to know why Appa and Amma fought? And I was standing outside because Amma asked me to leave. I was about to tell that to Maria when
Maria held my hand and started to drag me towards the house
“come, let us go and check on Amma” she hissed
When we entered the house, Appa was sitting on the rattan chair. He looked at both of us. He looked so mean and angry. I thought of running out.
May be I really should go to Tante’s house. But Maria was holding my hand. We both stood near the door trying to figure out what to do. Should we walk inside without talking to Appa? Then would he get angry because we didn’t talk there by ignored him? Should we say something to Appa? Then would he ask us”did I ask you to talk?”
I wanted to pee. It was so scary standing there and not knowing what to do.
“Where did you go?” Appa finally asked Maria
“Carol practice” She mumbled
“hmm” Appa mumbled.
Maria tugged my hand and quickly we both walked inside. We didn’t run. You were not allowed to run inside the house. We were careful not to drag our feet. We were not allowed to drag our feet and make noise.
We went to our room first, because we knew Appa was listening to the sound.
“So what song are you singing?” I asked Maria in a tone loud enough for Appa to hear
“Oh the same songs like last year” Maria replied. We both peered from behind the door to see if Appa got up from the chair.
“Where is Amma?” Maria whispered in my ears
“bedroom” I replied quietly.
We tiptoed slowly to Amma’s room.
Amma was still sitting on the floor leaning against the wall. Her hair was all dishelved. Her blouse sleeve was torn. Her eyes were closed.
“Amma” Maria whispered
She didn’t respond
We had to be careful. We were not supposed to check on Amma. We were supposed to leave her alone. That was Appa’s golden rule. I kept turning my head towards the door to see if Appa followed us.
“Amma” Maria touched Amma’s shoulder and she opened her eyes and looked at us.
“I am fine, go to your room” Amma whispered
“Shall I get you some ice?” Maria asked
“I told you I am fine. How many times do I have to tell you to go, get lost” Amma hissed.
I was sure Appa would have heard Amma yelling
“Come” I pulled Maria’s hand and we quickly ran to our room.
Ammakku vatta alley? ( amma is mad, No?) Maria asked as soon as we closed the door.
“Yeah” I whispered
“She would have been the one who started the fight No?” Maria spoke
I was angry with Amma, so I answered”Yes”
“See, I was right” Maria nodded her head.
“I wish Amma would just die” Maria spoke
“Me too” I replied

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