more ghosts

I had actually forgotten about one more ghost..
I was 10 years old.
My father had left us and life was hell living with Amma.
When Appa was living with us, we always had good food. Appa used to buy fruits in bulk and after dinner, he used to cut the fruits and we would sit on the veranda and eat. He would teach us about various stars. We also went out to eat most weekends. But the biggst treat was parippu vada . Most evenings, he would buy parippu vada on his way back from work.
From that to an absent mother and kanji, payar ularthiyathu and yogurt with worms.. It was a drastic change.
i remember fighting with Amma one evening and asking her to buy parippu vada. Obviously she didn’t buy. But I remember wishing so much that if only I had someone..( enikku arenkilum undayirunnenkil)
You know, that someone who would help me get out of Amma’s house.
I shed so much of bitter tears.. not just because amma refused to buy parippu vada, but because my father, the only person who could have saved me from Amma left me.
I clearly remember the next morning. I was up early ( So I can read the newspaper first)
From the house you need to walk to the main gate to collect the paper and en route I also collected vellakka (baby coconuts) for my youngest sister. I made a pouch by lifting the edge of my tshirt to hold all the vellakka.
As I walked towards the gate, I noticed this man standing there. He smiled and told me
“Come, I bought parippu vada for you”
Strangers usually terrified me. But there was something about this man. He was so familiar, though I have never seen him before.
He was wearing a woolen hat and had a muffler around his neck. He had a newspaper wrapped parcel in his hand.
“you must not eat anything if given by a stranger” was the manthra we were all taught when we were young.
I don’t deny that I was very tempted to eat the vada. So the best option was to run inside the house, get amma and if amma agrees that I can eat the parippuvada this stranger is giving me, all is well.
I dropped the vellakka to the ground and ran back inside.
He wasn’t there when I came back.
was he a figment of my imagination?? Probably..
But my maternal grandmother insisted later that the person I saw was her husband who died two days before my birth..He always wore a woolen hat..
( The sensible one in me knows that there is no way you can buy parippuvada early in the morning, but the vellakkas were there exactly where I dropped them when I went back)
I spend so many mornings by the gate waiting for him..and much as life was hell with amma, there was this sense of feeling that I was not all alone.

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