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.