“Amma where is my white top?” I yelled at the top of my voice as soon as I heard Amma opening the main door and entering the house. I was getting late for the party and had spend the last half an hour hunting for my one and only white top. I was sure I had kept it in the Godrej cupboard. But I had gone through the contents of the cupboard three times already. I couldn’t find my top.
“Amma, Arjun will be here any moment, Did you see my white top?” I came out of the room and looked at her.
“The white one” I was getting frustrated. Did I not explain well enough?
Amma was staring at me as though I was speaking Latin.
“The one with gold buttons in the front? The one I usually wear with my black skirt!”
“Oh that one”
“Yaeh that one ! Did you see it?”
“It is in the washing machine. I put it for wash this morning”
“Nina, I put all the light coloured clothes to wash this morning. The clothes won’t look clean if I don’t soak it in the soap, you know that, don’t you?”
“You took my clean top that was folded and kept in the cupboard and put it for wash?” I couldn’t believe it.
I knew Amma was obsessed with washing clothes. She probably was the only person on earth who would take the clothes out of the machine during rinse cycle and manually rinse all the clothes and then put it back in the machine. She didn’t trust the washing machine to rinse the clothes properly! But taking a clean top and putting it for wash was too much.
“You had worn it last time, did you not? Remember when you went to the Library? And then you folded it and kept it in the cupboard. How could you Nina? You should be ashamed of yourself. You thought I won’t notice ah?”
“Amma I didn’t wear it. I tried it on and then decided not to wear it that day. I wore the blue t shirt that day. I kept it back in the cupboard because it was still clean! Now what am I going to do? I have a party to attend and my wonderful mother had decided to wash my clean clothes. You are really a pest Amma” I yelled.
I went back inside the room and looked inside the cupboard to see if I could find something else to wear. I wore the blue t shirt yesterday when I went to Sally’s school and I had promised Arjun I wouldn’t wear it. I noticed the purple skirt and top I had got for Liza from Dubai folded and kept in the top shelf.
“Liza, Can I wear your purple top and skirt?” I asked Liza. She was watching some basket ball game on TV.
“No” She replied
“I don’t want you to. It is my clothes and I don’t like anyone else wearing it”
“But I got it for you!”
“So? You are asking me so? Did you not know that I only bought a jeans and t shirt for me, so you could have more clothes to wear to college”
“Too bad Nina, I didn’t ask you to do that anyway. If you wanted new clothes, then you should have got it for yourself. You can’t take mine by saying that you got it for me. What is mine is mine and I don’t like anyone else wearing it.”
I wanted to wring her neck for being so selfish. But I knew I couldn’t do it. Not because I was afraid of doing it, but my sister was stronger than me!
I was angry with myself for always being a sucker. Appa gave me the money and I should have spend it for myself. Instead I bought clothes for my sister, so she would have decent clothes to wear to college.
“But you are wearing my bracelet. How come you have no problems wearing my stuff?” I sasked
“this one?” Liza lifted her hand and showed the bracelet.
“yes that one, it is mine. Give it back”
“here, take it” She pulled the bracelet off her hand and threw it at me.
I picked up the bracelet from the floor.
“You broke the clasp Liza” I yelled
“Serves you right” She replied
“ninney ennu njan kollum” ( I will kill you today). I rushed to where she was sitting and reached out to pull her hair
“Stop it both of you. The neighbours will hear. What will they think? Two grown up daughters fighting all the time” Amma jumped in front of me and pushed me away.
I was so angry with Amma.
“You are the root cause of all the trouble in this family” I yelled at Amma
“What did I do? odichal lekkillenkil moothamma kkiirunnottey, alley?”
“What did you do? You don’t know what you did? If you had not put my top for wash, then none of this would have happened”. “Now can you see?” I shoved the bracelet on Amma’s face. “Can you see what she did to my bracelet?”
“You asked her to give it back Nina?”
“True, but she didn’t have to pull it out. She could have opened the clasp. Now I can’t wear it anymore”.
“Well, you should have known not to ask your sister for anything Nina, chekuthantey aduthu ara mindan poovunney?“
“It is my bracelet Amma”
“Nina you were not wearing it all these while because you said the bracelet gets in the way when you wear your surgical gloves, so why did you want it all of a sudden?”
Somehow it was all my fault! I was the idiot who bought new clothes for my sister and I was still the same idiot who let my sister wear my bracelet because I wasn’t wearing it.
“It is ok for her to wear my bracelet, but I can’t wear her clothes?”
“You know Nina, She doesn’t like anyone wearing her clothes. She has always been like that. It is not something new.”
I didn’t bother to reply. There was nothing that I could say that would make my mother see how unfair she is.
I walked back to the room, wore the blue t shirt and jeans and walked out without even bothering to say goodbye
“What time will you be back?” I heard Amma asking
“I wish I never have to come back” I replied.
I stood leaning against the gate and waited for Arjun.
I didn’t have to wait too long before I heard the familiar sound of the bike coming in full speed and breaking suddenly. It felt so good to see Arjun taking the left turn to enter our street. He was my friend. I had someone.
I opened the gate and walked out. I didn’t bother to close the gate after me.
Arjun stopped the bike and was about to take the helmet off to talk to me.
“Come let us go, I don’t want to be late” I spoke.
The truth was, I didn’t want to stay another second anywhere near my house.
I sat behind him on the bike and leaned towards him and held him.
He was all I had.
I knew if he knew who I was ( the real Nina Thomas, grand daughter of Methran Thambi, daughter of Thomas and Mary, sister of Maria, Liza and Sally), He may never like me. But I didn’t want to take a chance. I wanted someone to save me from my family.
It felt so good just holding him, knowing that he is mine.