Friday, May 27, 2005

It gets lonely early...

The most happening years of my life were I guess the summers. The rest of the days all I can remember is a blue frock that was short and would ride up high when on daddy’s bike. A huge school bag of the most useless books and brown paper wrapped notebooks. I liked when school started, coz then I would be given clean books without dirty handprints inside.

I loved watching mom wrap the books. Cutting out equal sized sheets of smaller dimension from the huge roll of brown wrapper, she would snip a little, tear a little, tuck a little and then give me a brand new dressed book.

And it would be my duty to stick those labels on them. Right hand side corner. Mom never appreciated me sticking them anywhere else and least of all on myself!

It was one of the rare times that mom stayed back in Kerala for a little longer- grandma wasn’t too well. School was to reopen, books were to be bought and wrapped and oh yeah- dad had to work too- so both of us came back.

I was happy that I would be going back without mom. The holidays with mummy around the whole day were getting to be way too tiresome for both of us- when thankfully they got over.

The whole house looked way too different when daddy carried me and the suitcases inside. A kind of hollow feeling... I assured myself that all houses without people and that’s been locked to dust and spiders gave the feeling.

Breakfast was out, lunch was out and dinner was from outside too. And I ate ice cream all three times. The hollow house feeling evaporated slowly with each spoonful… I thought of all the possibilities with no mom around and smiled at daddy. His smile wasn’t his usual- but then I always felt he was a little too attached to mummy and unreasonably so!

The next morning found both of us at my school. I saw a lot of my classmates- but all of us were quite queer after the almost 3 month vacation and the smiles were mostly shy… daddy shook his head sadly seeing the number of books yet again this year.

We went to buy the wrapper. I pushed my luck which seemed to be on an all time high-I’d had ice cream again that morning and asked daddy if I could use red wrapper- the one with silver stars to cover my books. It was one of the first ‘no’s’ of that summer… he let me chose the labels though.

Going home, I reminded daddy- the books need to be wrapped. He appeared a little distracted. I later realized why…

Daddy could not cover the books. I’d never seen him clumsy at anything before and it was a shock. While mom made precise folds and straight lines- daddy’s wrapping looked like a baby in a blanket- all creases and wrinkles!

While I sat there open mouthed-partly because of the over sized lollypop and partly because I’d opened my mouth to ask Daddy something but forgot all about it, daddy looked at me in complete hopelessness and said, “This thing just doesn’t stay where I put it!”

I don’t know how the rest of the days went by. Wherever I walked I either walked into empty rooms or into Daddy.

I first thought I missed her crisp ghee dosas. Then I thought it was that I missed wearing clean clothes. It was perhaps that I missed longing for ice cream. Perhaps I was missing mummy…

I learnt slowly that daddy could not iron clothes, he could not turn omelets, and he could not even make Viva!

Wandering yet again into Daddy’s study I found him standing in front of a Mathrubhumi calendar and smoking.

I went and stood between him and the calendar. Picking me up he said, “20th. That’s when mummy’s coming”

I pressed my nose on the sheet of paper-relief coursing through me. So she was coming back.

“How long is that away from today?”

“A week. 7 days. You can cross off the dates on the calendar. Here, take this one and you can strike the dates as each day is over”

I climbed down with a small calendar in hand. I promptly sat on the floor and scored off today. It wasn’t even afternoon…



The next two days went longer than usual. I waited patiently until afternoon to score off the date in the small calendar that daddy had given me… and from afternoon restlessly until the next day so that I could draw a red line over a date…

By the fourth day I hated the very sight of the calendar. Daddy was as cheerful as ever. A little on the sad side- but yeah- he wasn’t as badly off as I was…if he noticed that I was walking with the calendar around the whole day- he didn’t comment…

The next day- our steps were lighter. We scrubbed the kitchen clean- actually my servant and an additional 100 rupees did. Daddy even managed to turn the omelet and bring it back onto the pan.

I tore up the calendar. I knew mummy was around the corner somewhere… I didn’t need a piece of paper to tell me that.

19 Comments:

Blogger Kraz Arkin said...

The last time I had covered notebooks was when my Mom did them for me. After that I dont think I've even managed to have complete notebooks. Calendars...

6:02 AM  
Blogger Neo said...

That was a brilliant write up.Well put and fantastically capturing the emotion!!!
Ambled across ur blog through kutty's blog.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Pleomorphous said...

It takes the absence of a person for you to realize how much you want their presence... especially when things are not going right.

9:20 AM  
Blogger yesbob said...

para 3 onwards to next page

9:34 AM  
Blogger arvindiyer said...

Am sure no one could have written such a post other than u...Amazingly written...great depth and brilliant read!!!

10:10 PM  
Blogger mannu said...

an excellent slice of memory!. it really put me back to those beautiful school time. moments like this makes me wish if we had a rewind button in our life!! :(

oh, guess wot.. i think am getting addicted to ur blog! :D, y'day we shited to a new place where we had no tel.connection. so late night, i browsed ur site using my mobile, juz to see if u hv posted something :!!! ur blogs driving me nuts i guess ..

:))

10:32 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Kraz: Whew! I'm glad you are back! Missed you- though I quite liked that old lady...

Neo: Thank you... for the comment and for ambling by!

Pleomorphous: Yeah- you're right. Mom has this uncanny ability to turn all things wrong when she's not around! Man, the things people do for a little bit of attention!

Yesbob: Yes, Bob I did... But pray what's the connection? I havent read 3 men in a boat btw!

Arvind: Flatterer! It's not getting you anywhere ... But yeah- my roomies got taken though and you are invited for a typical Iyer saapadu when you next land in Chennai...

Mannu: Well... my blog's better than cocanie, alcohol and nicotine... Hmmm... so I guess it's quite ok to get addicted to!

But you'll have to put up with a lot of disappointments too...coz you've started expecting something...

9:44 PM  
Blogger shub said...

brilliant. i love tha part bout waiting to cross off dates.
"it was not even afternoon" :)

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was torn between the fact that I said to myself that I would stay away and the wish to tell you how much I appreciate your writings. Should I say that man is weak or le coeur a ses raisons que la raison elle-meme ne comprend pas (the heart has its reasons that reason itself can't understand)? I can't talk and write about what is right if my acts don't match my words, so let appreciation and my love for you get the upper hand.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Reva said...

you get better by the day!
the only people we can take for granted and actually get away with it - moms!
i have been picturising you in that small blue frock carrying a calendar around.. and there's a big smile on my face! :)

1:25 AM  
Blogger hope and love said...

that was a beautiful piece..
i remember a week while i was in my fourth std when my mom was not well and she was in my grandparents' place..
that faint feeling of insecurity and lonliness came back to me while i read it..

wonder if my boys will ever admit abt feeling like that when im away..?!!

1:30 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Shub: Thank you...

Anon: Fadia, thank you for the love and the appreciation. Both accepted...

Ruks: I still wear a small blue frock dont I? All I have to do it to carry a calendar and walk around the house... ;o)

Hope and love: Leave them home alone for a month and you might even get some flowers and a card!

2:03 AM  
Blogger manuscrypts said...

next change, the eagerly awaited "return of the mom".. great stuff :)

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Vinod said...

Brilliant! Have you seen that ad from BSNL (I think it is) comparing the umbilical chord to the telephone chord. Moms have that special place in life.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Manu: Return of the mom- yeah! But I'd soon be wishing she stayed away longer and I'd done a lot of things I could have when opportunity presented itself!!!

Vinod Cheta: Well, father's are special too- what say father of two? ;o)

6:05 AM  
Blogger yesbob said...

oh, no connection ....

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Vinod said...

And so are sons, daughters, sisters ,brothers and friends.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Vimal Gasper said...

nostalgic and superb writing...

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well my mom covered my books for me too , then suddenly she was not there ... and i was put up at school hostel . i was only 10 then
how much it hurt , how much i missed her , how much i still miss her , how much i wish i could change th past , how much i wish she had took me with her

i usually comment with my name but wont this time

10:07 PM  

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