Summer Vacation-3

‘Muthassi..’

‘Yes, Ammu.’

‘When my school re-opens and I go off to Calcutta, who ill come with you to the pond?’

‘No one, Ammu. No one will come with me.’

She looked up from her washing, and said with a laugh,

‘Why should Muthassi be afraid, Ammu? She is no longer a child. Do you know how old your Muthassi is?’

I shook my head.

‘Sixty-eight I will be sixty-nine this coming Chingam.’

‘When will you die , Muthassi?’

‘How am I to know the time of my death? It’s all in the hands of God. When its time for me to go, he will take me. No one from this Tarawad has lived upto this age. My mother died when she was forty; my uncle at forty-five. And grandmother, if I remember correctly didn’t quite reach fifty. As for Kamamalm ….I am a sinner, that is why I stay alive. I often wonder what further sufferings are in store for me before I die.’

Muthassi wiped the tears that welled up in her eyes with one end of her mundu and noisily cleared her nose.

‘But Muthassi, are you going to die soon?’ I persisted.

She tried hard to laugh, I could see her small teeth, worn down and reddened. Her mouth had the fragrance of the beetle leaves and nuts that she chewed. I put my arms around her neck, my face against her cheek and pleaded, ‘Promise me that you won’t die, Muthassi, promise me.’

Muthassi’s eyes filled up with tears once again. But she smiled and said, ‘ All right, Ammu. I promise I won’t die. Is that enough?’

Some women came to visit Muthassi. Seeing me, they asked, ‘Isn’t  this your daughter’s child?’

Muthassi objeccted to this catechism. ‘Who else could she be?Do you imagine I would keep other people’s child in my house?’

The women laughed in conciliatroy fashion.

‘Of course we recognised her, but we thought we should ask. That’s all. Who brought her home? Has Velayudha Menon come as well?’

‘No. He brought her as far as Trichur. He hasn’t been able to get leave. Sankunni Nayar and I went up to Trichur and brought her home. ‘

‘Why did you have to travel all the way to Trichur, Ammukutty Amma? Sankunni Nayar could have gone by himself and brought her home.’

‘Indeed! What an idea ! Bharati, do you really think Velayudha Menon would have entrusted his child to a mere house steward? As long as I am alive such a thing is not likely. It is not a problem from me to go up to Trichur. I always tell the taxi driver to come and spend the previous night here so that Sankunni Nayar and I can set off before daybreak. We usually reach Trichur railway station at exactly right moment to see the train arrive.’

‘The child has grown since the last time we saw her,’ the fat woman who wore a necklace studded with red stones said. She had a sleeping infant on her lap.

‘ She has grown a wee bit taller,’ Muthassi conceded. ‘But she hasn’t put on any weight. She looks fatter because of the clothes she is wearing.’

At this age, I put in, ‘I am fat.’

The thin woman with protruding   teeth  covered her mouth with one hand and laughed. Then Muthassi lost her temper with me and said ‘ You call yourself fat !  You are just skin and bone. No, you haven’t put on any weight, neither do you look pretty. Just look at your face- so dark and drawn.’

Muthassi made me sit next to her and began to smooth my unruly hair. ‘Ah’ I protested, ‘Ah!’ All of a sudden the bald child lying on the fat woman’s lap began to scream.

‘Stop it,’ the fat woman chided  the child. ‘ He is a rascal ! Screaming like that just when I am having a moment’s rest.’

Muthassi said, ‘ He must be hungry. That’s why he’s crying. Why don’t you feed him?’

‘No,no, he’s just had his feed. The rascal deserves a sound slap. ‘ She tried to frighte the child by rolling her eyes in anger.

‘I’ll kill you,’ she said. ‘ Just you wait. One of these days, I’ll really kill you.’

I moved closer to Muthassi and asked her in a whisper, ‘ Will she really kill the child?’ Meanwhile the child countinued to scream at a higher pitch. I thought that his head looked like a huge rubber ball with a hole in it. Or perhapas it was more like a yellow balloon.

Muthassi couldn’t hear what I said. She asked me,’ What are you saying? I can’t hear you.’

‘Will she kill that child?’ I repeated.

‘ Who are you talking about?’

‘That child’s mother.’

Muthassi burst out laughing and said to the woman, ‘ Bharti, did you hear what Ammu is asking me? She wants to know whether you’ll kill you child. She thinks you really mean to do what you say.’

The fat woman asked me  in a horrified voice, ‘ Ammu, would mothers ever kill their own childern? No one loves a child more than its own mother does. ‘

‘Poor child ! How can she know?’ Commented the dark woman with graying hair, who had been sitting silently chewing betel leaves until then. ‘ Just think of her fate. So very sad.’

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ekta
    Jul 05, 2009 @ 14:49:24

    finally….a post!

    Reply

    • preeti prasad
      Jul 10, 2009 @ 11:04:20

      Yeah,at last I managed to post 3rd and 4th part of the story!! I don’t know where all of them have disappeared..A regular blogger like Juneli is also not posting anything.. How about a new post from your side, Madam??

      Reply

  2. Ricky
    Aug 31, 2009 @ 12:19:20

    Ah…so many parts already posted and this one ended like a Saas-Bahu serial where you want to know what will happen next and then the episode ends 😛

    Reply

  3. Waldo Manzanarez
    Jul 16, 2010 @ 00:11:27

    I was browsing online for thoughts on a new article to write upon and saw your website. Although I may agree with your ideas a little bit, I think I will write something that is somewhat at the underside of your article. I like your ideas though and will write something that is very close to it .

    Reply

  4. preeti prasad
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 14:51:45

    Hi, welcome to my blog.. this particular post is a short story written by the famous author late Kamala Das, aka Kamala Surraiyya. Did you particularly comment on this post ? If it was for this post, then I do not deserve any credit, as I have just typed the story so that my friends can read it as well..

    Reply

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