I borrowed few books on Russian history from the library. A part of me felt guilty for doing so. I really really needed to concentrate on the internals that was to start in the 2nd week of December. As usual I had left everything to the last minute. How many times have I promised myself that I would never leave anything to the last minute? I never learn! Right?? And now I wanted to read Russian history. onathintey edel poottu kachodam!!!
I got off the bus near my home and started to walk towards home. Everyone was rushing home. I didn’t have any particular reason to rush home. I thought since I am already here I might as well see Amma before going back to the college. Not really a reason to rush home. I walked slowly wondering where Amma went this morning? I had no right to question her, but that didn’t mean that I was happy.
The gate wasn’t locked.
Royal highness is back. I thought.
I opened the gate and walked up the stairs.
Amma must have heard the sound. She opened the door and looked at me and asked.
“What are you doing here?”
Well, I didn’t really think there ought to be a reason for me to come back home and her question really ticked me off. (And to think that I came home looking for some sort of emotional support from her.)
I didn’t bother to reply.
Amma moved aside to let me in.
I closed the door.
“Where did you go this morning Ma?”
I didn’t want to ask her that. I really didn’t want to. But the words just slipped out of my mouth.
“What do you mean?” Amma looked at me.
pottan kali ( Dumb acts).
My blood pressure was going up. I wanted to scream at the top of my voice and tell Amma to stop thinking that I am an idiot.
“Where did you go this morning ma?’ I asked again.
“Morning? I didn’t go anywhere in the morning. I was home all morning.”
“No you weren’t. I came home and you weren’t home”
“In the morning? That was not possible. I washed yours and your sister’s dirty clothes in the morning. I only went out around 12.30 in the afternoon.”
“Where did you go?” I asked again.
I knew the answer. She must have gone to see George. I didn’t know why I was so pedantic in wanting to get her to admit it.
“I went to see my friend Jaya. She knows someone who works at BDA housing”
It took a few seconds to get my over active imagination to return to normal.Then I realized the gravity of the situation.
Amma + her friend + BDA officer = Disaster
“What is going on Amma?”
I kept the books on the bed and sat down. Amma sat on the blue chair. She was smiling.
“I am buying a plot”
“If we pay the guy 5000Rs now and another 5000Rs in 6 months time, he will release a BDA plot in Yelahanka for us. If I had more money I would have bought 40 x 60 plot. I am only buying a 30 x 15 plot. Not very big, but I know an Architect in Kottayam who can design a small house. You can have your clinic in the front part of your house. You remember the house I took you to see in Kottayam, with a tiny lotus pond in front?”
I remembered the house with a spiral staircase inside that lead to the first floor. (Belonged to someone from the best bakery family). Amma’s dream home. But that wasn’t the issue here.
“Amma, do you know how much BDA plots costs?”
“Of course I know! Don’t be silly Nina. Everyone knows how much BDA plots costs.That is why I think it is worth spending 10000 Rs. So even if we don’t want to build a house there, Nina, this is an investment. We can always sell it later for Lakhs of Rupees”
“Amma, how can someone sell you a plot worth lakhs for 10000RS?”
“Because he is the senior officer at BDA and he is the one who decides who gets what plots”
“Amma, are you crazy? No one in this world can give you plot that is worth so much money for 10000Rs”
“Shut up Nina. You are always so negative. nintey kari nakku kondu onnum mindanda( words from your cursed tongue are jinxed)
“I don’t have a karinakku. And you are wasting your money. Have you not learned the lesson yet? First it was Aiyappan. Then it was the Summit company( another high profile blade company with head office in Bangalore that started with a bang in Kottayam and vanished without a trace). If it wasn’t for George and his influence, you wouldn’t have seen any of your money you paid him. How many more instalments he has before he pays you back the capitol you invested? Ha? You invested money with Summit because they served Biriyani for their AGM meeting. Have you forgotten? Oh one more thing, have you forgotten the last time you invested 1000 Rs for a BDA plot”
“Nobody in Kerala served Biriyani for AGM meeting. So obviously I thought it was worth investing. If they can afford to serve Biriyani , then obviously they are doing well and I was sure my money was safe in their hands.How was I supposed to know it was all a marketing ploy? And the other guy was a kallan ( thief). He wasn’t even working in BDA. Luckily I only paid him 1000RS!”
“Ever heard, all that glitters isn’t gold Ma?”
“You can say all that. Have you thought about me Nina?”
“Thought about what?”
“What will happen to me Nina? You will all get married and live with your new family. Who will take care of me in my old age? Where will I stay? Do I have a place to stay? Do you think I can go back to Chengannur house and live there? Do you think I can handle the day to day life of a farmer? I couldn’t do it all these years and how do you think I will be able to do it in my old age?”
“Amma, it is not too difficult to do what Ammachi is doing”
“Really? How do you know? Living in a God forsaken place, getting up early in the morning to milk the cow, oh don’t forget, sometimes you have to get up in the middle of the night to collect the coconut that fell from the tree in the night, because you don’t want your neighbours to steal the coconut. Then boil the milk and then make coffee. Not brooke bond coffee. You need to roast your own coffee and it doesn’t matter that it taste awful. But you can’t buy coffee. You simply can’t buy coffee.
I want to get up in the morning and drink a cup of coffee before I start my day. Do you think that is even possible in your wonderful Chengannur house?”
“Amma, did you not know when you married my father that he is the only son of a farmer, that you are expected to take care of my grandmother in her old age?”
I was so angry with Amma, yet I regretted the moment those words came out of my mouth.
I knew I shouldn’t have talked like that. Only I know what my mother had gone through. What Ammachi and Appa had made her go through.
erinja kallum paranja vakkum. (rocks that are casts and the words that are spoken, can’t retrieve either)
“You are from that cursed family. There is no doubt that you belong to your father’s family. You only support them. God! How could I have carried a serpent like you. hy wonder? I should have known only a serpent child will be born to serpent father. Wretched family” Amma went to her room.
I didn’t want to sit there and continue fight with Amma. What was the point in fighting. I knew Amma was wasting the 10000Rs we didn’t have. I hoped George will be able to get her out of this mess when the deal goes sour.
“I am going back to the hostel” I spoke.
I looked at her room door hoping Amma would at least come out of her room and say Bye.
I opened the door and walked out.
Why exactly did I come home? I wondered.
Wasted my time.
I walked to the bus stand. There was a lady sitting on the floor near the temple selling flowers.
I remembered the jasmin flowers in the coat pocket.
Oh my coat.
I walked back to the house quickly and rang the bell.
Aunty opened the door.
“Hello Aunty, how are you?” I asked her
“I am fine. You don’t have class?”
“I do, I just came to go to the library. I had left my coat here.”
“yeah. Amma wasn’t home. So I left it with your son”
She gave me a look that confirmed Amma’s opinion of me.
I was indeed a serpent’s child.