I miss my…

I miss my…

Art by Arjun Sankar https://www.instagram.com/arjunsankarps/ 

Belinda Joneshttps://www.instagram.com/infinite_hues/

First Part – http://archanakavi.in/2019/01/20/oru-vattam-koode/

Amshula moves to the next room with her phone. She shows you her phone screen to you. It reads KARAN. There are people lying on the bed. When they see Amshula, they move out. She picks up the call.

AMSHULA

Karan… (Sighs deeply)

A few weeks back Amshula was in Mumbai

Amshula in her air-hostess uniform enters the apartment with a suitcase. She looks extremely tired. There is a young man, dressed up, clearing the table.

AMSHULA

Hey… when did you come?

They kiss on the cheek and greet.

KARAN

I had a layover.

How do I describe Karan to you guys; He is 5’9, well built, clean shaven with well defined jaw-line. He is one of the softer alpha man. By profession he is a pilot and that’s how they met.

AMSHULA

I had an intense day… There was a lady on my flight…

Amshula sits on the chair and grabs an apple to eat.

KARAN

I’ll hear all that later.

Karan keeps the apple back.

KARAN

Freshen up first. We have Sofia’s birthday party to attend.

AMSHULA

Do I have to join you? I’m just too tired.

Karan pulls her out of the chair.

KARAN

No excuses… I have bought something for you. Go change…

She walks in half heartedly.

Amshula is getting ready. Karan opens a beer bottle and starts drinking. He looks nervous. Amshula shouts from the room

Amshula (voiceover)

Isn’t this too fancy for a birthday party?

KARAN

Just wear it… I liked it… Moreover its a theme party.

AMSHULA (voiceover)

I need help.

Amshula steps out. She turns around. Karan helps her with the zip. Amshula is holding her breath.

KARAN

You look gorgeous…

AMSHULA

I’m sure you picked a smaller size… I cant breathe…

They both laugh.

AMSHULA

Ouch… I can’t laugh.

Amshula looks at you.

AMSHULA

I think, I know what he is upto… But I will pretend as if I don’t know… surprise dinner at some fancy place. This is the 10th time he is doing this…

Amshula looks at him and laughs.

They reach Taj Lands End, it’s a fancy hotel close to the sea and slightly away from the cities hush buzz.

Amshula and Karan walk in.

AMSHULA

Hey… are we first?

KARAN

Close your eyes.

They enter one of the halls. Amshula gets weirded out.

As they walk in to a point. The lights turns on. The room is full of her old friends.

AMSHULA

This… is not… something…

Amshula looks around puzzled. Her best friend has flown down from Delhi.

AMSHULA

Sneha… What the hell…

Sneha comes and hugs her.

AMSHULA

What’s happening?

SNEHA

You will know.

Karan goes on his knees.

AMSHULA

Oh… my God…

The crowd is cheering. Amshula is in shock. Her phone rings. It’s her mother. Sneha takes the phone from her.

KARAN

Look, I guarantee, there will be tough times. I guarantee that at some point, one or both of us is gonna want to get out of this thing. But i also guarantee that if I don’t ask you to be mine, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. Coz I know in my heart that only you can tolerate me.

Karan takes out the ring.

KARAN

So… Will you marry me?

The crowd is cheering “yes”. Amshula looks around and looks back at him. She has a half-hearted smile and nods yes.

AMSHULA

Yes…

Karan gets up and puts the ring. They hug and kiss. Amshula looks at you.

AMSHULA

Sometimes you actually get surprised…

Everyone comes to greet them. Sneha passes her the phone.

SNEHA

Your mom has been calling you.

Amshula takes the phone and calls her back.

AMSHULA

Hello Amma… I cant hear you. wait…

Amshula walks out of the hall.

AMSHULA

Amma can you hear me?

AMMA

Congratulations… We are sorry we couldn’t make it.

AMSHULA

(To you)

My mom tells me everything… Everything… Anyway that’s how I got engaged!

That’s how she got engaged. Now let’s get to the present.

AMSHULA

Hey

KARAN(vo)

How is it going? I’m sorry I couldn’t come.

AMSHULA

That’s okay… It’s crazy here… I just couldn’t even see my grandma properly…

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Krishna and Shyamala are getting the food ready.

SHYAMALA

Krishna, can you just check and see if the kanji is done. I’ll go grind the chutney.

KRISHNA

Ya ok!.. There 10 people for lunch.

SHYAMALA

So many? I thought most of them would be leaving.

KRISHNA

They decided to stay.

Shyamala is irritated.

SHYAMALA

Such parasites… Ok. You serve the first batch, in the meantime I’ll start cooking for the rest.

Krishna takes a few plates and gets out of the kitchen into the dining hall. Seated around the dining table are all women; some aunts and nieces and cousins. All gossiping in general. Suddenly an aunt pointing outside….

AUNT #1

Oh look! Lucy has come.

All the women and some of the domestic help run to the entrance of the house.

Lucy is Amshula’s mother. She has draped herself in a blue ikat saree. She looks like a cooperate woman who isn’t extremely comfortable in saree. Jose her husband is half bald from the front and has a very welcoming aura.

Thomas and Lucy embrace. Lucy has a pale look on her face but tries to hold it together. Along with Lucy is her husband, Jose who is holding their bag. Jose pats Thomas on his back. Some of the onlookers, mostly the aunts pass their comments with each other.

AUNT #1

She looks lean…

AUNT #2

Pandathe bhangi onnum illa…

Lucy walks in and goes straight to her mother’s room.

LUCY

Tresakutty… what mischief are you upto?

Grandmother smiles.

GRANDMOTHER

You came?

LUCY

Where else will I go… I heard you are getting naughtier day by day… Did you eat anything?

GRANDMOTHER

Not yet. These idiots aren’t leaving me alone.

Everyone in the room gets uncomfortable.

JOSE

Now we are here.

GRANDMOTHER

You have gained a lot of weight.

Everyone laughs.

Hearing her mother laugh Amshula cuts the call and walks out.

AMSHULA

Wait… I’ll call you later.

Amshula gets out and makes way to meet her mother. They hug each other.

LUCY

You reached?

Amshula goes and sits on her mother’s lap.

AUNT #2

Shooo… You are a big girl now.

LUCY

It’s ok Elemma.

By then another Aunt enters the house and starts crying loud.

AUNT #3

I don’t know what to do. I don’t have any strength at all to get through this.

Amshula is annoyed but tries her best to be polite

AMSHULA

What happened peramma… She is still alive… She has just hurt her leg a little bit.

Amshula gets up from her mom’s lap.

AMSHULA

(to her mother)

I’ll get you something to drink.

She looks at the grandmother.

AMSHULA

You hungry?

AMMUMA

Yes… Thank God someone cares… Everyone leave the room now… You guys have created enough drama… I’m not dead yet.

Amshula laughs and walks out. On the way, she hugs her dad. He looks at the ring.

JOSE

We’ll talk about it later.

Amshula smiles.

All the aunts sit around the dining table; all eyes turn toward Lucy and she’s fielding their questions.

AUNT #1

You can’t let Ammuma stay alone… There are so many thieves around this area…

LUCY

Don’t know Elemma… Thomas is trying to figure something out.

AUNT #2

If you want I can move in with my family. Rajesh’s work is very close from here…

Amshula is taken shower. Her hair is tied up and she enters the room hearing this conversation. She gets extremely irritated.

AMSHULA

Amachi… Give mom a few days… She just came.

LUCY

Amu….

They all are quiet. Amshula walks into Ammuma’s room.

Amshula shares her room with her grandmother; that’s how things have always been and they never felt a need to change it.

There are two beds in Ammuma’s room. Amshula is sleeping on the other bed.

AMMUMA

Mol… Uranguvanno?

AMSHULA

Illa…

AMMUMA

How is the boy?

AMSHULA

Which boy?

AMMUMA

Your fiancé…

Amshula thinks for a while.

AMSHULA

He is good.

AMMUMA

Like your grandpa…

AMSHULA

Yes… Like my grandpa…

Lucy walks in.

LUCY

Amu… Be ready by 8. We have to go to church. Chachande aand aanu.

AMSHULA

Yes ma…

Next day morning the entire family is in the church.

Amshula’s grandfather’s 8th death anniversary Mass is going on. Amshula is sitting at the back, close to the main door. When everyone gets up for some prayer. Amshula sneaks out.

COUSIN

Chechi where are you going?

AMSHULA

To see Chachan..

COUSIN

Kurbana?

AMSHULA

Athu saram illa…

They walk towards the graveyard. Her cousin sister joins her. She is stressed as if she is attempting a crime.

COUSIN

I’m scared of turbulence… How do you survive it?

AMSHULA

You have no idea how scared I am… I don’t think you can die.

COUSIN

Think?

Both laugh.

Amshula is standing in front of his George’s father’s grave. She stands there for a while. A small 7 year old boy comes running to the grave and pushes Amshula.

AMSHULA

Hey….

To her cousin

I can’t stand kids…

The kid places flowers. Behind him is George’s mother. Amshula smiles at her.

AMSHULA

Hey aunty…

George’s mom hugs her.

GEORGE’S MOM

Mol eppo vannu?

Amshula tooks at the kid.

GEORGE’S MOM

His son…

Aunty to the kid

Did you say Hi to Aunty?

Kid

Hi…

Amshula bends down. She doesn’t know what to do…

AMSHULA

Hey…

GEORGE’S MOM

She is your daddy’s friend.

By then the Mass is over and her family has come to the grave.

AMSHULA

(to George’s mom)

I have to go…

Nice meeting you…

Amshula walks towards her family. She turns back and looks at the kid. He smiles at her.

Amshula joins her family. The priest is reciting prayers.

When the prayer gets over George’s mom comes to wish Ammuma and her parents. The kid is running around. Ammuma calls him and gives him some money.

AMMUMAGo buy some candy.

The kid gets excited.

Thomas is driving back home with Ammuma in the front seat. Amshula is sitting behind with her parents. Grandma is sitting on the front seat.

LUCY

Are you in touch with George?

AMSHULA

No… After college we lost in touch.

AMMUMA

He has changed so much. earlier he used to walk around with long hair bearded look.

AMMUMA

I liked that more.

LUCY

Ammakyu allengilum vrithi ishtam illa.

JOSE

(to Amshula)

You guys arent in touch?

AMSHULA

Not really.

LUCY

He was so helpful when you were here. Don’t be so selfish.

Amshula doesn’t react to it.

LUCY

If possible when you are here go meet his mother.

AMSHULA

Hmm…

AMMUMA

Leave her alone. Where are we going to eat?

LUCY

Shyamala has cooked at home.

AMMUMA

No… I wanna go out.

Lucy gets irritated. Jose clams her.

JOSE

Where do you wanna go Amma.

AMMUMA

Karimpumkala

LUCY

Uchakyu kal shaap o?

Amshula smiles. Amshula is looking out of the window. as the car moves she sees her old college.

LUCY

Your college… You wanna go?

Amshula smiles and nods no.

AMSHULA

No…

Oru Vattam Koode

Oru Vattam Koode

Revisit

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.

AMSHULA

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.

Anthonichan

Amu ethiyo? Yatra engane ondarinu?…

AMSHULA

Kozhappam illarnnu…

Antonichan

Manikuttan samayathu ethiyille?

AMSHULA

Yes…

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.

LovelyAnamika: 20/f/bangalore.

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?

LovelyAnamika: Yes…

coolguy64: You have never been close to a guy?

LovelyAnamika: No… I’m saving for the person I will marry.

coolguy64: Not even kiss?

LovelyAnamika: No…

coolguy64: This is crazy and stupid.

LovelyAnamika: I’m a one man woman…

coolguy64:…

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.

Art by Belinda Johns

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.

AMSHULA

Can’t believe I said that… One man woman… Hmmm…

Older Amshula shuts the door and looks at you.

AMSHULA

Like I said a lot of memories…

Amshula bends down to remove her shoes and socks. She continues talking to you.

AMSHULA

I’m not a virgin anymore… Married… well not yet…

She shows you her right hand. There is a sparkle.

AMSHULA

But engaged.

You can hear the door opening and younger Amshula runs past her.

AMSHULA

Ooohhh…. Slow down kid…

Older Amshula follows her to the main door. You can see younger Amshula run into the neighbour’s house.

AMSHULA

Of course!

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.

LITTLE AMSHULA

George! George!

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…

LITTLE AMSHULA

Hey Aunty, George ondo?

( Is George here?)

GEORGE’S MOM

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)

GEORGE’S MOM

Amma eppozha varunnathu?

(when will your mom come?)

LITTLE AMSHULA

Month end…

GEORGE’S MOM

Vacation enjoy cheyyunnundo?

(Are you enjoying your vacation?)

LITTLE AMSHULA

Yes aunty…

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.

GEORGE

(reluctantly) Hi

LITTLE AMSHULA

You wanna come home and play cards…

George looks at his mom, who is standing right there looking at both of them.

GEORGE

I don’t know… How… To play cards…

LITTLE AMSHULA

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..

GEORGE’S MOM

poyittu va

(Go)

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.

AMSHULA

George…

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.

AUNT 1

Amuu… Ammmumma vilikyanu…

(Amuuu….. Grandmother is calling you!!!)

AMSHULA

(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.

AUNT 2

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.

AUNT 1

Ammumma doesn’t remember faces clearly.

Amshula feels bad. She walks close to Ammuma.

AMSHULA

Ammumme…

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.

AMSHULA

Clara aunty town vittil anno?

(Is Clara aunty still in their town house?)

AUNT 2

Athe (Yes)

AMSHULA

Makano? (Her son?)

AUNT 2

Chennaiyil anennu thonnu.

(I think… he is in Chennai.. I’m not sure…)

AMSHULA

Aara avide thamassikkunne?

(Who stays here?)

AUNT 2

They have given it for rent and they visit once in a while.

Ammumma sneezes.

AUNT 2

Amu… get her something to cover.

Amshula gets up.

AMSHULA

Where… will..

AUNT

Check her trunk it will be there…

Amshula opens Ammumma’s trunk. On the top she sees the Christmas card Amshula had sent her.

AMSHULA

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.

AMSHULA

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.

AUNT 2

Sheet please…

Amshula keeps the cards back and starts looking for the sheet.

AMMUMMA

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.

AMMUMMA

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.

AUNT 1

Congratulations. We got to know… Show us his picture.

AMSHULA

huh?

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.

AUNT 1

That’s your engagement ring right? I understood.

AMSHULA

Yeaa… but…

AUNT 2

Show us his picture.

By then Amshula’s phone rings. It’s Karan. Shyamala walks in with the sheet.

AMSHULA

Excuse me…

Amshula looks at Ammumma.

AMSHULA

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.

KAVI!