Every Thing We Are is a coming of age novel where Samyukta aka Sam learns that every thing we are is not always on display. This is my first attempt at writing a novel. I started this project as part of #NaNoWriMo2020 before I fell off the wagon. Hope you will read along as I get back to writing it. All episodes of this series are available on the ETWA page. Subscribe to my writing here.
Achams is the only one who noticed that she was shaken when she got home. Sam leaves her sweatshirt on the bed and heads into the bathroom. When she emerges a while later, Achams is seated on Sam’s bed, looking out of the window on the opposite wall. She turns around and smiles at her. Sam does not smile back. Instead, she averts her eyes and lies down on her bed facing away from Achams. Achams moves up to caress her hair and runs her hands over the side of Sam’s body.
Achams was an affectionate person but not a good hugger. Achams’ best act of endearment was to hold Sam’s chin up and smile at her. Even when Sam initiated the hug, her hugs weren’t warm and effusive. But she let you know how much she loved you with her touch. When she passed you in the dining room, she would touch your shoulder or pat your head. She would hold your hand and pat it if you sat next to her. If you were lying in bed she would sit on the edge of the bed with her legs hanging off and stroke your head, arms, thighs and feet.
When she did this in soothing strokes, Sam turned around and as always wrapped her body around Achams, bringing her knees up and curling her head down so that her hair cascaded down the edge of the bed. She lay there, eyes closed, welded into Achams. Achams asked her,
“Do you know where Bull Temple Road is?”
“Not really.” Sam replied, with her eyes still closed.
“But would you like to go there with me?” Achams asked in a cheerful voice.
“But I am not allowed to leave the house without my parents.”, Sam said, more as a question, opening her eyes to check if Achams was joking.
“Oh, we’ll fix all that!” said Achams, with a straight face.
“Let’s go on a trip tomorrow. I’ll set it all up. I have to meet that old friend of mine I was talking about.” Achams had called Ratna while Sam was in the bathroom crying. She was in luck since the next day was Sunday.
“Mone, she doesn’t know anyone on that side of town. What is the maximum she will do? Talk to her friends? It’s just for a day. She has no money, no phone, nothing.” Achams argued passionately with Vineeth. “What is your worst fear? That she will run away?”
“No, no, Amma”, Vineeth scoffed. “Where will she run away to? She has no money or any place to go to. But on the other hand, anything could happen. We have to be prepared for everything. My worry is that she will talk to her friends and make a plan.”
“Pfftt, in a day? We’ll be gone for barely eight hours. I’ll watch her. I’ll make sure she doesn’t talk to any of her friends.” Achams offered her guarantee.
Since Vineeth and Sreeja looked at each other, fidgeted and did not reply, she said, “If you are so unsure, send Sreeja with us. Three of us will go.”
Turning to Sreeja she asked, “How is that for a plan Sreeja? You can sit with her in Ratna’s house and I will go get the pooja done. You don’t have to let her out of your sight the whole time.”
Vineeth answered the question for Sreeja, “That sounds like a plan. I sat down with Mani anna and made a list of poojas to get done. This along with all that we got done with guruji today should put an end to her miseries. That was a really expensive affair today. Mani anna had warned me so I had carried one lakh in cash but the bill was around two point something. But it’s still a bargain to secure her future, no?” Sreeja nodded in agreement.
Achams opened her mouth and closed it without speaking.
Vineeth was asking Sreeja if Rs 25,000 will do for the next day’s pooja. “We should carry more, Rs 50,000 perhaps. Just in case”, she replied.
This time Achams couldn’t hold back, “Isn’t that a lot to pay for her bright future?”
“Haha, what world do you live in Amma? It’s less than her school fees for a year.”
The next day, Sam, Sreeja and Achams started from home early in the morning. They were expected at Ratna’s house for breakfast. Sam sat between her mother and grandmother in the back of the taxi. Achams held her arm loosely, patting it from time to time. As they left their lane and then their neighbourhood, Sam felt a lightness come over her. She felt as if she were breathing after a long time. In that warm taxi with all the windows rolled up, driving down empty Sunday roads, she felt like she could think.
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Next Chapter | Ch15b: Sam’s Day Out