What kept me from leaving home !!

Once when I was around 10 yrs old and my dee 12 yrs, my Amma was doing the routine combing to remove the head lices / jua (they are now extinct or endangered species I suppose, haven’t seen even one lice for a long long time now) which flourished and nourished on my long thick black lustrous hair I had then (and now I have something black on my head in the name of hair 😦 ).

ImageI hated this (Indian mother’s favourite pastime) sooo much. Just the sight of the comb used to make me a rebel. All my pleas to leave my hair alone fell into deaf ears. Finally I had enough and I decided to leave home for good. I escaped my Amma’s hold, declared my intention to leave home.

My dee, who was bathing, was hearing the commotion outside. She rushed out of the bathroom with water dripping from her hair and body, wetting the frock she wore. She ran behind me and pulled my arms.

“Please don’t leave, please “

“I have to. I can’t stay in this house. Amma doesn’t like me”

“Then I will also come with you. Please wait for 5 minutes.”

“No am going. I can’t stay here for another minute.”

“Don’t go alone. I will come with you. Please wait for 5 minutes. I will join you.”

“If you want to come with me, come now. I can’t stay here for another minute”

“Please wait for 2 minutes at least. I will come with you. Please.. please..”

I thought, may be she was not stupid like me, wanted to pack some clothes. After all she used to scare Ammamma (granny) often by packing her 2 favourite dresses in a polythene bag and declaring that she would leave home and come to us. (Me and Bro were with parents in Hyderabad till I was nearly 9 yrs old and my dee was left with our Ammamma in Kannur )

Konipadi

“Ok.. I will wait for you at the konipadi (steps at the gate as in picture). But why do you want 2 minutes ?”

“I rushed out of the bathroom hearing that you were leaving. I could just pull on my frock in a hurry but did not wear chaddi (underwear). How can I leave home with you without wearing chaddi ?”

She ran towards the bathroom.

Image

I stood there unable to react. My dee came back running in 2 minutes. I looked at my Amma who was enjoying the whole drama.

My whole anger had vanished but just to teach smiling Amma a lesson, we did not go back home immediately. We both sat at the konipadi till our hunger forced us to return home when Amma called us for tea. We had tea as if nothing had happened.

So what kept me from leaving home that day ? My dee or her Chaddi ?

PS: I wanted to post this on 9th Dec (her birthday). But last two weeks were too hectic at office and awful at home with Babs falling sick.

PPS: Sorry Dee.. I know you would want to burn all my chaddis and leave me chaddiless  for posting your chaddi story.

1991 : A Diwali Story

Year : 1991, A Diwali day , 10.00 am at CRPF Residence Quarters, Hyderabad

I want to see the fire.. please didi light some crackers” , 6 yrs old Su said.
No, not now. In the night. Diwali crackers are to be lighted in the night” 8 yrs old Didi answered.
Please didi, just one.. please
No. not now, let Amma & Papa come back
Please didi, I want to see the fire, please light one kambithiri (sparkle stick)
She dragged a stool towards the stand on the wall where God’s idol was kept. She climbed on the stool and took the match box kept next to the Vilakku (lamp). Su took 1 sparkle stick out of the box under the table. She took a piece of newspaper and both moved towards the living room window.
I will light the newspaper, and hold it outside the window, you can light the stick from the fire in the newspaper and hold it outside the window.
Su gleefully “haan haa
She kept the newspaper on the window sill and lighted it. And then the most unexpected thing happened. The wind blew the burning paper into the room and it fell on the cotton cloth which covered the sewing machine next to the window. It caught fire.
Su was scared and started crying. She immediately pulled the burning cloth down, but by then the sewing machine bar had caught fire. She ran to the bathroom and dragged a bucket of water to the room and poured cups of water on the burning cloth and sewing machine. The fire was put out. Next she took a broom and cleaned off the charred cloth and ash water from the room. Then she noticed a burnt hole in her pink frock. She immediately changed the frock, hid it behind the iron trunk in the bedroom.
Then she took her frightened little brother with her, locked the flat (in the 1st floor) from outside, climbed down the stairs and sat at end of the stair case waiting for her parents to come back.
She had cleaned and hid the frock, so that her parents don’t come to know about the fire. But when the parents were back, she just broke into tears.
Amma worried, “What happened, why are you here and not in the room? I asked you both to stay inside till we come”.
Sob. “go up and see
What ? What happened
Sob.  “go up and see
Amma grabbed Su and Papa grabbed her and rushed upstairs.
On entering the flat, they didn’t find anything odd. Then they got a faint burnt smell.  Amma ran to kitchen. But there was nothing on the stove and everything was as she had left. They both looked at her quizzically.
What happened ?”
She pointed toward the sewing machine. Papa inspected the sewing machine and found the burn marks on the wooden platform, burnt and broken sewing bar. She broke into tears again and narrated the whole incident.
Papa looked at the crackers kept below the table. They were intact, except for one sparkle stick on the floor near the window.
Amma “ Thank God. The crackers didn’t catch fire. How could you both be so naughty? I just left you for few minutes and this is what you have done?…………
Papa inspected them for burns. After making sure they both were fine, he took the broken bar, pulled both the kids to the bedroom. Tied them to the leg of the bed and said “Stay there till I come back from the duty. No more play, No crackers, No Diwali for you
Amma, ofcourse untied them after some time, fed them but did not allow them to move out of the room. By evening papa came back. He did not talk to them. They had a silent dinner. Outside the room crackers were bursting, children were shouting; inside, there was dead silence. The children went to bed sobbing.
Then they heard Papa’s voice.“So you are sleeping without burning crackers on Diwali? and who will eat the Diwali sweets I have brought ?” The children jumped out of the bed. The whole family went to the verandah, burnt crackers with Papa’s supervision, enjoyed sweets and happily celebrated Diwali. Next day Amma & Papa explained to them their mistakes and about the danger their action would have caused. And also praised the girl for her presence of mind and appreciated the way she managed the situation.
Things I don’t remember now about the incident : Where did Amma & Papa go ?
And what was my brother doing all the time I was putting out the fire and cleaning the floor.
“WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY AND SAFE DIWALI”