Monday, September 12, 2005

It was friday and a public holiday. But my mother's organisation never shared a holiday with others. So I had to wait till the evening for her to return and go to my grandparents. That day my father had a holiday too. So i never wanted to wake up in the morning. But the thought of meeting my grandparents cheered me up.

I pretended to study because I didn't want to talk to him. Suddenly he announced that he was going out. "Thank god", I felt. I ran out of my house to the neghbouring building where i practically lived. There were a few kids of my age. There was Sapna and her elder sister, Kavita. Their cousins Shweta and Salomi and their neighbour Khyati. The building was replete with Sapna's relatives but i was only concerned with these people. We used to go for tutions together and her aunt taught us. I went there because my mother sent me there to study. She thought I would never study on my own.

I was teased all the time by these girls. They were all Maharashtrians. I learnt their language from them. They teased me for the clothes i wore, which they thought were too short for me. But i thought my clothes were just perfect for me. Anyway, my main aim was to play. And i wasn't a great player at all. I ran when i felt like running. I hated being the denner because they could dodge me around. I was puny and thin and weak. But I still would throw tantrums and try to get my way around. I was really difficult to play with. Sometimes they would scheme to make me the denner. I didn't mind that because i knew how to tackle it. I would become the denner and sit in the same place and never look around for them till they got bored to death! Then there would be a huge fight - me against the rest, where I would be questioned on my integrity towards the game. My reply would be, "I am the denner so I have the choice to either look for you and catch you or just let you be. So I chose to just let you be, that is all." Then they stopped scheming against me. But I was always teased about something or the other by Sapna and the others would follow suit. She was their leader I suppose.

I remember an instance when I was teased by her in school in front of a lot of students from her class. This happened for a while and I was really irritated. Suddenly one day I gathered courage walked up to her class room, called her out and slapped her hard and told her, "This is for teasing me", and walked away. Her class stared at me and she threatened to complain to my teacher. I smiled, I felt powerful. I felt like the Goddess Durga who slain Mahishasura! Now, it all seems like a joke but i really felt great.

In spite of all that had passed between us, we still continued playing together. That is something I can never understand. My mother, my tution teacher (her aunt), would tell me to stay away from her. But I wouldn't. That is really inexplicable. I always wanted to play, may be it was never her that i wanted to play with, but there was no one else. And I had to play.

I saw my father walking down the lane towards the house and I ran home. I was home before him and was back to my pretense of studying. Someone was with him. His friend, I believe. I was called as usual and he introduced me as his daughter. Suddenly all fondness crept in for me. I always wondered how that happened. Then of course, the visitor had to ask me questions. He asked, "What are you doing now?" I said, "Waiting for my mother to go to my granparents' house". Then suddenly my father corrected me and said, "She is studying in the third standard." I was asked to sit there. I sat. Then he told my father, "She is a very quiet girl." I stared. My father agreed with him. I got up and walked out.

I stood at the window and waited for it to be six o'clock. It was six-thirty, but my mother hadn't arrived. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. "Had she been killed by a running bus? Was she dead? Was she not going to take me there? Was she going to tell me that she was tired and so would take me only tomorrow?", these were my thoughts. But what a relief, I saw her at a distance. I put on my clothes and got ready to leave. I was careful not to attract my father's attention as it would prompt him to say something sarcastic to me. But no care was enough. It did attract my father's attention. And he said, "So all this was for going there haan?" I nodded, no. Then he said, "You are not going there today." I was really scared.

My mother entered. I clung to her and told her this silently. I didn't want my father to hear it. She convinced me that she would take me and she went towards my father. He told her not to go that day. And they started fighting. But I had to go. I wanted to meet my grandparents. My mother was crying. I hated it all. She picked up the bag and we left. My father told me not to return. I was scared, but I also felt happy at the thought of not returning.

I asked my mother, "Do I not have to return with you?" My mother said, "Of course you have to. Oh don't bother about what he says. We fought because you wanted to go to meet your grandparents and he doesn't like it." I just didn't talk anymore.

We reached there at ten in the night. I went and hugged my grandmom. My uncle asked my mother, "what is the need for you to come so late?" My mother said, "oh she wants to come here and she waits to come here." I smiled when she said that. To which he said, "She will say a lot of things, she is a child. You have to make her listen to you. There is no need to come here from next time, if it gets so late." And he looked at me angrily. I didn't know what to say and held tightly on to my grandmom's hands.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

This is not a part of the story.

Memories are strangers sometimes. Each day brings with it new feelings and memories keep distancing themselves. But they are there. Then you wonder how you ever felt that? Is it the same thing or the same person that you are seeing now? They all seem so different, they are strangers. Memories create strangers. They refuse to acknowledge that change is constant. They linger in the past. They hold you back, they never let you change. They have such a strong hold on you that they throttle you and sometimes you die. You may be alive but you are still dead. You are not living anymore. It is memories that live.

Look at your hands. Aren't they different? Your eyes may agree but memories don't. They will tell you that your hands now are as beautiful as the hands with which you were born. But they are the same hands. When did they change? You don't have an answer to that so you trust your memory. That seems to be the most reliable friend. Because everything is not always beautiful but you want to see only beautiful things, so you trust memory.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Tears just kept rolling down, I couldn't control them. My grandparents burst out crying. All of us were crying. My world of the three of us was broken. The train moved and I could just see images far away at a distance. That was the end of my speech. My mother was crying. Someone in the train asked her why we both were crying. She said that she had to take me with her, separating me from my grandparents and she was sad because of that. I found that revelation ridiculous. That lady looked at me like sympathetically. I hated that look. Could she save me from the situation? Why the hell should she know about me? I think my mother wanted some sympathy, may be.

The keys opened a door. I entered a dark house, suddenly my mother switched on the lights and said, "This is your house." I stared. I sat and she went into the kitchen to cook. It was almost an hour after entering the house. I was still, sitting in the same place. I wasn't thinking anymore. Somebody rang the bell. It was the same bearded man, my father. He came in and smiled, "Hello, how are you?" I feigned a smile. He came to touch my cheek and I moved my face away. Then my mother came and said, "say hello to him, he is your father." I stared at her. Then again she said, "come, say hello." I nodded. And she came close to me and said, "come baby, say hello". I was exasperated, "I don't know", I said. Then this father of mine asked her, "Is she always like this? Can't she talk? See how your parents have brought her up!" To which she promptly replied,"It is the first day, she has just come. And she was crying so much.." "Was she crying?", he asked, "Wasn't she happy to come here?" "She has stayed with my parents for so long, she is attached to them. It will take time", said my mother. I watched. I was really scared, I wanted to run away.

I was asked to sleep on a bed along with them. I was put in between them. I didn't like that. Suddenly my mother said, "My mother used to say that parents shouldn't put their children in between, this distances the couple. So let her sleep near the wall." To which my father agreed. I was put near the wall (the side of the bed near the wall). I held my hands tight and almost crouched towards the wall. Then my mother's arm fell on me. I pushed it away. I wanted my grandparents' arms. I was very afraid of these people. Some sounds woke me up early in the morning. I looked around. My parents were talking loudly. They were fighting. My mother said, "You took so much money, where is the account for it?" To which the reply was, "I earn, so I spent, you don't need to have an account of it." She said, "I give all the money to the house..." I got down from the bed and went there. I watched them shout. Suddenly my mother noticed me. "Oh, she has woken up", she said. "Why have you woken up so early, why don't you go and sleep?", he asked. I didn't know what to say. I looked at my mother and went back. I just sat there. I wanted to run away. I wanted to cry, but i was too scared to cry. Then he came in and said, "Last night you were asking your grandpa to save you from here. You were telling him that we were beating you. You think he is going to save you?" "Yes", I said. Then I asked him, "Was I saying such things? " Then my mother came and said, "You were speaking in your dreams." I said, "ok." I was happy, I had dreamt of my grandpa.

They went away and continued shouting. I was too scared to step out and go to the loo. It had been almost an hour. I saw my mother fall against the edge of the wall. The marble hit her on the forehead. That man had beaten her. She beat him back. "Good", I thought. But I was very scared. She came to give me milk, I drank it. She said she was going to the doctor. I asked her the reason for going to the doctor. She showed me the wound. I told her that i will accompany her. She said the doctor was close by and she would be back soon. I said, "I am scared." She assured me that she would be back soon. I sat there still and stared at the walls and prayed that that man shouldn't come into the room while I am alone.