Title credit – SANEESH_THAMBAN (thanks a lot)
Imagine a young woman in her 30 with bangs covering her forehead. The only thing that makes her Malayalee is her hair — thick black, half wavy and half straight. Her yellow full sleeve top with denim makes her stand out in the crowd. A few people recognise her and some give her the stare… She is carrying a big bag-pack and looks extremely exhausted. This is Amshula for you all…
She is standing in front of a big ancestral house, smiling and guessing the names of the people who are greeting her. There is an unusual number of people outside the house. She sighs and looks towards you. Yes you! who is reading this now.
I love coming back to this place. I have spent all my summer holidays here and there are so many memories I have here.
Amshula gets in. An old man in mid 50s year comes out and takes the bag from her. This is Antonichan, her mom’s younger brother. Even though he is in his 50s the pace with which he talks only God could understand. He used to be an influential man in this small village of Poozhithode, but after he retired he isn’t taking things that well. Amshula is kinda scared of him because… you would know soon.
Amu ethiyo? Yatra engane ondarinu?…
Manikuttan samayathu ethiyille?
Manikuttan, a 20 year old boy, comes and carries her bag-pack to a room. Amshula goes to another room. She recollects…
15 year old Amshula sitting in front of an old computer. This house was the first in Poozhithode to have a phone, car,TV and later internet. Remember the days when you had to connect the phone to your computer and wait for hours to get the connection and then pray that by the time the telephone bill came you had to leave the country. That’s why she was scared of Antonichan and for many other reasons of her own.
Anyway coming back to her thoughts.
Little Amu is chatting with some strangers.
You never reveal your true identity and those days nobody was interested in chatting with a 15 year old. Yahoo messenger chat rooms were where you discovered many things.
coolguy64: Are you a virgin?
coolguy64: You have never been close to a guy?
LovelyAnamika: No… I’m saving for the person I will marry.
coolguy64: Not even kiss?
coolguy64: This is crazy and stupid.
LovelyAnamika: I’m a one man woman…
Little Amshula is waiting for his reply. He in turn sends her a dick picture.
coolguy64: Not even now?
Little Amshula gets scared and ends the chat and shuts the computer.
Right now it all seems so different. Amshula wished she could hold the innocence of her teenage. She looks at her younger self in awe.
Can’t believe I said that… One man woman… Hmmm…
Older Amshula shuts the door and looks at you.
Like I said a lot of memories…
Amshula bends down to remove her shoes and socks. She continues talking to you.
I’m not a virgin anymore… Married… well not yet…
She shows you her right hand. There is a sparkle.
You can hear the door opening and younger Amshula runs past her.
Ooohhh…. Slow down kid…
Older Amshula follows her to the main door. You can see younger Amshula run into the neighbour’s house.
When Amshula used to visit her mom’s home, her only company was the neighbour kid, George. They had a very unique relationship. They first met when she was six months old and he was 2 year old and then continued to meet for every time her parents visited home. Oh I forgot to tell you, she was born in Dubai and raised there till she was in the 5th standard then the family moved to Delhi and she was there till something happened.
Back to her thoughts….
Younger Amshula enters George’s house. She is panting.
George’s mom comes to the main door. Amu was extremely close to Clara aunty — a relatively short woman with afro curls. Amu always used to wonder how she would manage to comb that hair and the only time she felt slightly happy about her hair. She had the warm smile and her skin was soft and so huggable. She wore floral printed nighties and smelt coconut oil. Amu had to wait for Sundays to see her out of those nighties. Clara aunty was an amazing cook and Amu used to skip meals at her place and rush Clara aunty place..
This time she was rushing in for some other reason…
Hey Aunty, George ondo?
( Is George here?)
Amu… enthu pati? Avan roommil aayirikkum…
(Amu.. what happened? He must be in his room)
Clara aunty shouts his name. Its amazing how this tiny body could produce such volume.
George… thazhe vaa.. Amu vannitondu…
(George! come down. Amu is here)
Amma eppozha varunnathu?
(when will your mom come?)
Vacation enjoy cheyyunnundo?
(Are you enjoying your vacation?)
George comes out of his room.
If I have to describe George at this age. He is shooting up. I think he got it from his dad and his hair from his mom and puberty isn’t being kind to him… pimples and random hair popping on his face.
You wanna come home and play cards…
George looks at his mom, who is standing right there looking at both of them.
I don’t know… How… To play cards…
Come… I’ll teach you…
(Whispers to him)
I have to tell you something…
George gets petrified. He looks back at his mom. She is smiling..
This had happened 15 years back. George and Amushula haven’t met each for almost 8 years.
Amshula walks to the main door and looks at George’s house. They have new neighbours. She wonders where they would have been. She looks at you.
Her thoughts are interrupted by an annoying neighbour. As Amshula is blessed with a lot of relatives, her mother has 7 siblings. We are going to simplify everything by numbering them.
Amuu… Ammmumma vilikyanu…
(Amuuu….. Grandmother is calling you!!!)
(Looks at you) Will save it for later.
Amshula goes towards Ammumma’s room. She looks at Ammumma. It’s been long since she came home. The grandmother is lying on the bed. The last time she had met her Ammumma was with all the kids from the neighbourhood and teaching them to play Kilithattu. Its something similar to kabadi but slightly less aggressive.
Ammumma… Sushikkane… Kunju kutti annu na vijarum. Ethre perre a veshamapiche…
(Ammuma you should be careful. You are not a kid… See how much trouble you have created for all…)
Ammumma is lying silently looking at the fan on the ceiling. Amshula walks in.
Aunt 2 looks at Amshula and makes space for her.
Ammumma doesn’t remember faces clearly.
Amshula feels bad. She walks close to Ammuma.
She looks at Amshula and smiles. She calls her to sit next to her. Amshula goes and hugs her. There a lot of people. Most of them she doesn’t recognise. Amu got her looks from her Ammumma. She has aged gracefully. At 81 and still has some black hair. She always used to say, “chathalum chamanju kidakknam”. Amu has never seen a single wrinkle on her mundu or chatta. I wonder 10 years from now if anyone will wear this traditional wear. It also surprises me that those days women were comfortable wearing white all the time; this story isn’t about what I feel it’s about Amshula and her little world. Sorry for the deviation.
Amshula sits next to Ammumma.
Clara aunty town vittil anno?
(Is Clara aunty still in their town house?)
Makano? (Her son?)
Chennaiyil anennu thonnu.
(I think… he is in Chennai.. I’m not sure…)
Aara avide thamassikkunne?
(Who stays here?)
They have given it for rent and they visit once in a while.
Amu… get her something to cover.
Amshula gets up.
Check her trunk it will be there…
Amshula opens Ammumma’s trunk. On the top she sees the Christmas card Amshula had sent her.
Aha… You still have my Christmas card.
Amshula opens it. She picks the next card. It is from George. She looks at it for a while.
Amshula looks at you.
People say you don’t know what you have got until it’s gone, the truth is you knew what you had, you just thought you will never lose it.
Amshula keeps the cards back and starts looking for the sheet.
Leave it… Kozhachu edalle…. Bring it from the other room.
Ammumma calls out for Shyamala, an old lady who is supposed to take care of Ammumma. We all wonder who is taking care of whom.
Shyamala… pothappu kondava…
Ammuma looks at Amshula.
Oru gunavum illa…
Amshula makes face and shuts the trunk.
One of the aunts interprets her train of thoughts.
Congratulations. We got to know… Show us his picture.
By then rest of the ladies gather around her. Its funny how news spreads in … Even before they never needed whatsapp or Facebook but somehow everyone knew everything.
That’s your engagement ring right? I understood.
Show us his picture.
By then Amshula’s phone rings. It’s Karan. Shyamala walks in with the sheet.
Amshula looks at Ammumma.
Njan eppo varam..
PS: Rest we will meet next week. I’m sorry for doing this let me know in the comments below where do you think this story is heading…. I love you all. Please don’t be mad at me… this isn’t easy for me.