chattaney pottan chathichal, pottaney daivam chathikkum! Perhaps it should have been Appaney potti chathichal, pottiyey daivam chathikkum!!
I lied to Appa and see what happened to me? I was the one who told Appa that Sally could stay as a paying guest in Bangalore and study in a good school. I just wanted Appa to send money for Sally. I never thought Amma would send Sally to a boarding school.
A part of me wanted to say God has punished me by taking my sister away from me. But the other part of me wanted to take the responsibility. I did wrong and I deserved what I got, sans God in the equation.
I could almost picture all my Sunday school teachers, choir members from the Ascension church, Kottayam and Anitha pointing their fingers and chanting
“You don’t believe in God!! God will punish you”
I pulled the blanket over my head and tried to sleep. I wanted to say that I wasn’t afraid of divine retribution, but since I still prayed to God on occasions, I simply couldn’t ignore the fear of retribution. It would have been so easy if I didn’t ask for God’s favour.
Perhaps it was ok, since I didn’t ask for anything for myself. I only prayed for Ammachi and Sally. If there is God, then he perhaps would understand, won’t he?
“You will be punished” I could still hear all the church members chanting.
I wondered if there is anything more left for God to take from me.
He took my father away, He took Beautiful Eyes away, He took all my friends away and now he took Sally away from me. What else is left? Perhaps Me?
Go ahead dear God, take me away. You think I care Anymore?
Do you honestly think I care? I asked.
I carried every single cross you placed on my shoulders, Didn’t I?
You made me deaf, you made my mother hate me, you made my sisters hate me, but I still carried on Didn’t I?
Go ahead dear God, punish me, because I knew, I can’t believe in a God who is this cruel.
Love and cruelty never mix.
There is no love in cruelty. None at all.
Only an ignorant person can say “God loves you, that is why he is punishing you”
I thought of taking back my request asking to keep my sister safe. But again I thought, Nah I couldn’t do that. What if Sally was punished because of me? I didn’t want my sister to be punished for my sins. I couldn’t do that to her.
I wondered how she would cope. Alone in a boarding school at the age of 13. I remembered my first day at the hostel and I knew how lonely Sally would be. I wanted to hug her and tell her that she would feel better after a few days and will have tons of friends by the end of the week.
Would Maria call her on the first day at the boarding school? I hoped she would. She should, she too stayed in a hostel and would know how miserable Sally would be on the first day.
I hoped Maria would buy Sally all the stuff needed. New brush, paste, shampoo, soap, bucket, towel, comb, Pyjamas.
Gosh Pyjamas.Would Maria remember to buy Pyjamas for Sally? At home no one bothered what you wore, but at the hostel, everyone notices what you wear!
Sally needed new Pyjamas. I knew Maria would forget that. My sister was incapable of thinking. She would ask Sally to wear her old tattered clothes at the hostel. I got up quickly and walked to Amma’s room. I will ask Amma to call Maria and remind her to buy pyjamas.Sunday all the shops would be closed, so they have to buy the pyjamas tomorrow.
Amma was standing in front of the shelf. Everything that was on the shelf was on the floor. The books,tapes, plastic palm tree appa got from Dubai,Amma’s hair piece, old news papers were scattered all over the floor.
The realization of what was happening was too much for me to take.
I remembered each and every time I cleaned my closet when I was upset. I would start off by putting everything on the floor and then slowly put everything back. Cleaning the closet always made me feel better and my mother was doing exactly the same.
That means we were doing the same thing. I had something in common with my mother.
Was it genetics?
‘No you silly monkey, genes don’t carry closet cleaning DNA’ Sensible one spoke
I knew she was jealous. Even she noticed the similarity! So I ignored her sarcasm.
I walked to where Amma was standing. She looked at me for a second and continued to dust the plastic palm leaves. I never knew why she was keeping those palm trees. They looked ugly and it was difficult to clean the leaves.
I bend down and started to arrange the news paper. Edges straight, one paper facing forward and the next one facing backward, just the way Amma always kept the news papers.
I thought Amma would ask me to get lost. She didn’t.
There were some old medicine bottles on the floor and I picked then up.
“Do you want them?” I asked Amma
She took the bottles from my hand and checked the name.
“Do you think it is expired?” Amma asked
I took the big brown bottle from Amma’s hand and checked the expiry date.
“Yes Amma, this one expired in 1985”
“that long ah?” Amma looked at me disbelievingly
“hmm” I nodded my head
“So there is no point in keeping ah?”
I looked at Amma, trying to see if she was serious.
“This one was very expensive” Amma spoke again.”May be I should keep it. Don’t you think? May be the drug company simply put the expiry date, so everyone will buy new bottles, correct?”
I wanted to tell her that expired medicines would do more harm than good, besides I can always get her new medicines from my hospital.
But what more harm can befall on a woman, who already lost her husband and two daughters?
“Sure Amma, you can keep it” I told Amma.