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Voicing Silence 7

Monday, June 11, 2007

Not another quick tale

I don't know why I was thinking about you today. Your birthday is only in November. And that day is not until August. It must be because of the song I was listening to. Not the one with your name. But the one that we used to sing together. The one that you would sing hopelessly off-key. The one I teased you so badly about. And that was not the only thing I used to tease you about. The way you used to stutter mildly before each sentence. The way you scratched your head often. The way your hair curled into tight rings. Just about everything was a reason to taunt.

How could I forget that day when we went to the beach and I demanded that you return the dress you were wearing because it belonged to me? Yes, right then and there. I wanted my dress back. And yet, you kept your head about you. You just ignored me like you always did. And that infuriated me even more. I tugged and pulled at the dress. You continued to ignore me. How I tortured you! That I was only 8 or 9 years old then was no excuse. Looking back I'm shocked at how my behaviour was allowed to go on.

Luckily, you didn't have to suffer me for too long. And after a couple of years with us, you went back to living with your parents - my aunt and uncle - in that remote northern town. And we met only during holidays. Until that year, when we were both 16 years old. I still remember being woken up in the middle of the night and being asked to pray. You had contracted meningitis and were in a critical condition in the hospital. And collective prayers alone could save you. Sadly that was not enough and you succumbed to the disease. After that, whenever I saw your mother, I was weighed down with inexplicable guilt. She would see me and burst into tears. You too would have been going to college. You too would have started working. And like my mother, she too would have been looking out for a suitable groom for her daughter. I was a constant reminder of the life that her daughter was so cruelly denied.

But the real reason I'm writing to you is because I'm a mother now and I fear for my child. You know what they say about the sins of the parents coming back to haunt their kids. And I often worry that there's a bully waiting to get my son.

I know I didn't say it when it mattered. But I'm saying it now. I'm sorry for what I did. I really am.

7 comments:

rishabh said...

.........

s said...

we derive a sense of strength from often worrying about some harm lurking about around our children... your worry is fully justified.
complacency is not a luxury we can afford in this society.

to relate the worry to a memory from childhood is another thing.

Deepa said...

Did you read Kite Runner recently? Or is it really not a QT?

Priyamvada_K said...

Ammani,
That was hard-hitting, and very powerful.

Being a parent will make one a better person. No doubt about it! :-)

Priya.

Reema Banerjee said...

i can never seem to say anythin after i read what u write. so i dont comment at all. but this time i thot, i must let u know, its overwhelming, the way u touch ur readers

Honey Bee said...

ammani.. the first half of your letter reminds everyone of their childhood friends..
your worries... my goodness ...you are so natural

Aarthi said...

Ammani, I like the way you tease out these nuances. Almost anyone can nod along.