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 best but I couldn’t say that about Mama and Papa. Once the early dinner and desktop shifting was done, they retired to their room in silence. But that silence did not last long. I got into bed hoping to still my racing heart. I prayed for a calmer set of parents tomorrow. Achams, as was her routine, turned in when I did. I was just falling asleep when the argument began in the adjacent room. At first, Achams and I hoped that it would subside. In half an hour when it didn’t show any signs of receding, I sat up in bed.
“It’s your family’s culture that she is showing. Your father, that lowly Mr Parameshwaran’s gulf budhi. Dubai kaaran’s one-track mind. Only thinking of how to make money. Do you even care about what’s happening here?” that was Papa shouting about my favourite grandfather.
“No, not really. As you always like to say, she’s your daughter. Fair enough. You deal with her then. How many times did I tell you that we shouldn’t have her? That I do not want to have another child? And what did you say? You said, it’s all in your head. Once you see the child, you will automatically love her. All women do. And that it will be easier this time. It wasn’t, was it?
I was bed ridden for most of my pregnancy. And I was miserable for months after. Do you even remember this? When I told you that I was having bad thoughts, you said I should quit being dramatic. Of course you don’t remember. You haven’t changed a single diaper or woken up a single night to put either of your children back to sleep. But you were so sure about having her. Go for it then.” Mama was furious.
“It is just carelessness, what else is it? You had one job. To take care of our daughter and make sure she doesn’t get into trouble. Have you imagined if this gets out? What will our neighbours say? What about our friends? You just have to sit at home and cry. I am the one who has to face the world. What will I tell people?” Papa could be mean when angry.
“Yes, I just sit at home. Maybe this is a magic house that runs itself. I do everything, from setting up your car service to washing your underwear. I am a glorified maid here.” Mama was not going to back down.
Papa often used ‘panchayat’ as a derogatory term, especially against Mama’s intelligence.
“Oho, why don’t you go out and earn then? You said, we should give Ammu a phone for her safety. You said, we should let her commute on her own so she becomes street smart. Now what? See where your lowly panchayat budhi got us? You can get a woman out of her circumstance but you can’t get that circumstance out of her” Papa often used ‘panchayat’ as a derogatory term, especially against Mama’s intelligence.
“What are you implying? That your family is somehow more cultured than mine? Who exactly do you have in mind? Your brother who quit his decent IAS job to teach useless government school children? Did you mean him? Or your mother who let that low-caste woman desecrate your ancestral home? Is that the cul…” Mama did mean business.
“Enough! Lower your voice. Amma will hear you”, said Papa referring to Achams.
“Let her hear what I am saying. Let her hear what her son really thinks of her.” There. That was the first sign that this argument was going to escalate.
“Mone!” came Acham’s voice right on cue. She startled me into action. I switched on the light and turned to her. She was sitting up in bed. She smiled at me gently. Mone! She called out again, her tone urgent; not matching her expression. As Papa ran into the room, Achams clutched the foot of the bed and swung into her performance.
“I felt a little giddy when I sat up. I was going to go to the bathroom… I sat up and I could feel my head spinning so I sat back down… I think I was dreaming that someone was shouting. Now that I am old, maybe I am imagining things.” Achams was a clever, clever woman.
Papa glared at Mama in an ‘I told you so’. Amma glared back, unperturbed.
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