Memories - Fantasy or Reality
by Geetha Rajagopal
“Ok, why don’t you sit here and play with your toys, Amma will just be back”, says Amma putting me down in the charpoy in the big room adjacent to the terrace.
It is a quiet afternoon and Amma has just gone in to have her bath. I think “Why is it so quiet? When will Amma be out? Why cannot Veda come and play with me? Does Veda bring all her toys to play or just some? I wonder if she has a pink face doll. I want to have that cookie which Veda’s mom gave me yesterday? Can I ask Veda’s mom for one more cookie? I sure can, Amma will not say anything. Vidya will be so happy to see me. I wonder where Nana is. He always sits in the garden downstairs and makes those gurgling noises at me. What is that thing? Is it a toffee wrapper? I should not pick it up, Amma will be angry. That big monster is making so much noise. Why is everyone honking? This is the ice cream vendor I saw yesterday. I am going to ring all the bells and Amma will not stop me”.
“Mitu, come dear. Veda, see who has come. Where is your Amma, I know you must have come running and left her behind?” says Veda’s mom. “Mitu, Mitu where are you?” cried Amma when she comes out after her bath. She cannot find me. I am three years old.
I scream and yell. They laugh. I cry ‘Amma’. But she is too far to hear me. Three adults, six hands are dragging me, lifting me aloft and carrying me. We go down the block stairs, through the back alleys, and up the stairs to the rooftop. This cannot be happening. Before I can take a breath, they drop me into the – you know it, the colony water tank. The simmering cauldron of holi colors and waters cover my face and burn my eyes. I bawl and bawl till my dear Appa gets me out of the Holi water tank. He chides those girls (monsters) for playing with me. Aghast at the less than ideal treatment of the wicked monster akkas (elder girls of my colony), I walk back home with a sullen face. I am just a four year old.
“Mitu, Amma has to go to the kadai (shop). Aditya is sleeping, don’t make any noise”, Amma said. “I am closing the door from outside, so no one will ring the bell”, are Amma’s parting words as she closes the hall door and I can the bolting of the latch. Amma has stepped out to buy some groceries. Bindu, our maid, is late as usual and Amma cannot wait for her anymore. Before I can finish
reading the first page of my picture storybook, I hear a whimpering. “Mitu Akka (elder sister), Where is Ma?” cries Aditya. Aditya has woken up to see Amma leaving through the main door. Adi walks to the door and starts thumping asking for Amma. My eyes well up in tears. We stand & spend the next 10 minutes, (that’s how long Amma was gone) crying in turns. I just started first grade.
It is Grade seven. I have to write an essay on an important topic. I don’t recall how I chose the topic but I am very proud of the assignment I turned in yesterday. I wonder what madam will think of my effort. I do love creative writing. “Can we have your attention, Mitra?” my thoughts are interrupted by Mrs. Desai’s voice. “I will like to speak to your Father tomorrow. Will you ask him to come and see me, around 2 pm in the Teachers Staff Room” says Mrs. Desai.
“Ok. Madam”, I croaked. I am worried but cannot do anything about it. I come home and mention the summons to Appa and Amma. Back home from school the next day, Adi and I are playing with clay in our backyard. We have got clay from the nearby construction site, and are trying to make some pots. Suddenly I hear our Premier Padmini, honk. Appa must have come home, I wonder.
“Mitu, Come here?” says Appa.
“Do you know our daughter Mitu has written a very descriptive essay about our family for her 6th Standard English writing assignment? In her assignment, she says that her father has passed away, and how her life is full of hardship and these are very difficult times” yells Appa. I am horrified at hearing this. I don’t recall writing such stuff, and why. I am trying to explain but it is hard. How do you write about something as if it is true?
“I am Mitra and I am the principal of the school. I have been running this school for 5 years. I feel so privileged teaching these children and think that our new methods of teaching will be soon accepted world over. Listen Mitra Didi, your stop has come?” barks the bus driver.
“There was no looking back for Mitra, when she got an opportunity to do her MBA. The two years of college, the move to Mumbai, her amazing first job, the stint in London for 1 year and marriage to a wonderful guy, twins – a boy and a girl, Mihir and Myra.
"Geetha, Geetha, Geetha….wake up, the maid has come”, Samit’s voice broke into my sleep.
The mind is a wonderful place, a simmering conundrum of fantasy and reality. It lends itself to aimless wanderings, alas they are always interrupted. ***