Monday, April 16, 2012

My Khatti Meeti and Burning Hot Spicy Life


The third prize is won by Farida Rizwan of Chapters From My Life! She wins a Flipkart gift voucher worth Rs. 3,000!
This is what Rituparna said about this entry:
“Childhood is not always about happy memories…sometimes there are the bitter sweet moments that shape the person you grow up to be.”

One day my mother wanted some puffed rice and she sent me to the shop to get it from a neighbourhood vendor whose shop was quite some distance away. I walked all the distance only to find the shop closed. I dragged myself home and informed my Mom so. For some peculiar reason her response was odd, “How is that? He is always open on Tuesdays. He is closed only on Fridays. He has to be there. May be you did not go all the distance because you felt lazy. He is always there and you better go and get the puffed rice. I am getting late in serving the breakfast”.
Now I started to wonder what I should do now. This was a frustrating and situation which made me angry. My mind started on its evil journey where I decided to get back at my Mommy. I decided to use the word always as much as possible in everything to irritate her. The word would be my trump card in coming days.
I am stood there lost in my world, when my Mommy continued, “Now when are you going to get the puffed rice?”
“I am not going alone. Send someone with me so that you will know I am not lying. You are ALWAYS sending only me on errands.”
My Mom summoned my sister who was busy talking with her friend, and sent us both to get the puffed rice from the shop that was closed.  My sister loved to catch me red handed doing mischief and I could see the grin of anticipation on her face. That gave me another idea that I should include her in the revenge which I would have on my Mommy.
Why I talk like that, question would arise in your mind, “Don’t I love them?”.  I think I do and quite a lot. But this feeling of anger and revenge comes over me when something irritates me or I feel I am being pushed against my will. I am very sure that I do not want them hurting or in pain even for a moment but I enjoy seeing them being frustrated or troubled for a while.
 As we walk towards the shop, I start wondering what if the shop keeper has come back. What if he had temporarily closed it? Would I be labelled a liar? I was tensed for a while but then I relaxed thinking there is always a way out. I can ask the shopkeeper where he had been a little while ago when I had come down.. Whew!!! What a relief it was.
The shop was closed. So I laughed out loud and said, “See, coming all the way down here was a waste of time and energy for both of us.. Mommy is so silly and she mistrusts us ( I wanted to include my sister  with me)ALWAYS”.
 We are walking back slowly when all if a sudden my eyes fell on a kitten shivering in mud water. I love kittens a lot and wanted to have one at home. It was so cute that I was willing to fight hard to keep it with me. Then I realized that I need not do it at all because there was else who would do all the dirty work for me.
“Babe!!! (my sister’s pet name). Look what a nice little kitty.  I am sure if washed it is going to be all white and shiny. You said you wanted a pet few days ago… (she wanted a parrot or dog for a pet) how about taking this and cleaning it. Shall we take it with us?”
My sister was a compassionate being towards animals and her inevitable response was, “Wow! It is so pretty. And poor thing it is suffering so badly. I hate its mother who has left it to die here. Come let us pick it up”
“Wait I saw it and I am going to take it home”, I said that only to provoke her into leadership. It worked for she replied, “I am bigger than you and it will be safe with me.. I carry it home properly. Here hold this bag and money. Let us pick it up and take it home and clean it”
I did not want to go back home so soon. So I said, “We need to clean it before we show it to others. Or else they will tell us it is stray dirty kitty and will not allow us to keep it”.
Here the use of ‘we’ was just another form of ‘you’.  I was damn sure my sister was going to do all the work for me.
I knew with all her pride and ‘I am the leader’ qualities she would do everything all the way, and also fight to keep the kitty near the bed where we sleep.
All the while I loved the thought of my mommy waiting sitting on the small stool in the kitchen wondering “Where have they been…???????”
So off we went to a roadside water pump and clean the kitty … most of the work was done by my sister, where as I helped by pouring water and making comments. She was soaked and got dirty in the process. My mind was working on the two words ‘Always’ and ‘Never’. I wanted to include them in the coming communication as much as possible and see the effect.
We entered the house quietly.  I gave back empty bag and money to Mom, as she sat there with the questioning look on the stool in the kitchen. How silly it is that she thought I was lying and we both are coming back with the puffed rice.
“Where is the puffed rice?”
“The puffed rice is in the shop that is closed. You ALWAYS doubt me when I say something. You NEVER agree that I do not lie”.
My mommy looked at me to say something but then was shocked to see my sister soaked wet and all dirty with something in her hand.
“Where have you both been to? What is it you are carrying in your hand?”
Now it was my sister’s turn to take over and she did it smoothly, “We had been to shop mommy. It was closed. While we were hurrying back home we found a poor kitty who came running to us. We could not help but help it.. Look how cute he .... errr she is”
My worried Mom exclaimed, “God! You two have been playing around with kitties when I am waiting here to get the breakfast ready. Your daddy will have to leave for factory in about 20 minutes and what am I going to serve him now?”
My turn for revenge and I said, “It is your fault Mommy. If you had trusted me earlier you would have had lots of time to cook the breakfast for daddy and all of us. You ALWAYS mistrust me. You NEVER believe what I say”.
“What is wrong with you Fari? When did I not believe and when did I mistrust you? Stop saying always and never… may be once in while I may feel you are playing a prank on me … Ya Allah! It is so late now to cook anything else”.
My mother was very upset with the confusion of cooking breakfast, in addition to a very dirty daughter with a sparkling clean kitty shivering and meowing pitifully in her arms. Finally she said,“Both of you take that kitten out and keep it out until I finish my cooking. Don’t disturb me now”.
“But mommy we NEVER have any pets. Why do you ALWAYS refuse to give us any pets? We want to keep the kitty with us please please please…..” I whined and whimpered.
“Shut up. It is too small to survive without its mother. Go back to where you found it, look for its mother and put it back with her. You don’t want to kill it? Do you?”
My sister was aghast to hear this. “Mommy! This is quite a big kitty and I will take care of it. I am much better than its mother in taking care of it. If I had not seen it, may be some dogs would have gotten to it and torn it into pieces. I want to keep this kitty and I am not going to put it back from where I brought it”.
By then my dad asked mom if his breakfast was ready because he was getting late for office.
My Mom told us to keep the kitty and rushed to fix something quickly for dad who was getting impatient. He usually spent a lot of time getting ready for the office and then hurried up with remaining tasks. I, at times wondered why he spent so much of time grooming himself every morning where as it took my Mommy lesser time to get ready to go anywhere.
My dad walked in asking “Is the breakfast ready yet? I have to leave in few minutes”.
“I am having trouble fixing something for you today. These girls took so much time to come back from the shop and they did not bring anything. In a minute I will roll some rotis for you”, muttered my Mom
My Mommy was an excellent cook, so she had rotis and egg omelets ready for Dad who was mumbling and grumbling at the same time. He did not like cats much and if he saw the kitty when he was in a shitty mood then there was no chance of us having it.. but I knew one thing for sure - if they threw the kitty out they had to throw my sister out too. Once she decides to help an animal then there is no stopping her. Her sympathies are very strong and it can take away her mind completely and stunt the working of her other sense organs. She cannot think straight, cannot hear the reason, cannot see the facts and loses her fear.
We both hid out of Daddy’s sight until he went to office. Then I had an idea flashing in my mind. I had watched people bottle feeding babies and when my little brother was born I wanted to feed him too. But mommy never allowed me to feed him because she was afraid I may choke him or something. I don’t blame her because there were times when I would get lost in thoughts of God knows what and would forget what I am actually doing. So here I saw the chance of bottle feeding this kitty. My sister beamed with happiness when I told her that we should bottle feed the kitty. Soon we both broke our piggy banks. To our horror we found that someone had been tampering with them. We had way less money than we actually put in it. But this was no time for playing police or CID, so off we rushed to the shop to buy a feeding bottle. We had a little argument over the colour; my sister wanted red and I wanted yellow,  finally she won the argument by putting some extra cash. We rushed back home and my sister slowly went up to my mother who was now busy getting the lunch ready. It was amazing how my mother was engrossed with cooking most of the time, and when she was not cooking something she was busy feeding someone. My sister asked in a very pleasant tone,“Mommy can I have a glass of milk?”
“Off course Beti ( daughter) .. so finally my lovely daughter realized milk is good for her hmmm” beamed my Mom
“Mommy I want to feed the kitty”, answered my sister sheepishly.
“Oh God! Is it still alive? It must be lucky to survive you two demon girls. Have you been picking it up and bothering it much?” said my mom horrified.
“No Mommy we have made it sleep in the basket on an old sweater” my sister pacified her
“Whose old sweater?” asked my Mom worried.
“Grandma’s old sweater. Fari said that is the best one for our kitty” said my sister. I was never in good books of my grandma and we always had a cold war brewing between us.
“Off course she would say that… I can almost hear her saying that and I can also hear your grandma shrieking and making a fuss out of this.... OH! What else for today?” My Mom was almost in tears now. She had tough time managing me and her mother, because none listened to her.
“Don’t worry Mommy. I will tell Naani that I took her sweater and please let me keep it. She won’t say anything” My sister explained.
My sister was right. She was my grandmother’s pet and she would forgive her a few murders gladly, where as she would not forgive me one dirty look in her direction.
So she came back with the milk and we both took turns in feeding the kitty. We had to decide on a name and we decided to call her either Rosy (because of her pink nose) or Julie for some unknown reason. Finally we ended up calling her Julie because my sister’s teacher was also named Rosy and we did not want the cat to share the teacher’s name.

Julie survived and became active little cat. My mother was wrong that she would not survive without her mother. She turned up to be a wonderful pet at first for both of us and finally got to be all mine.
 No! I did not do anything drastic. It just happened naturally with natures call. Afte drinking all the milk and absorbing all the nutrition, her body had to throw out rest of the waste.. which did not come out with good odour. My sister is very sensitive to stink and could not stand it even for the love of the cat. My mom was very strict that we had to clean up whatever mess Julie leaves behind. So the big question stood in front of us as to ‘who will clean up after the kitty?’ My sister puked when she tried but I could do it without puking. So finally I told my sister she had failed in taking care of kitty because cleaning after the kitty poo is a part of care-taking. My sister was in a dilemma and knew she was losing her leadership position, but she was helpless. We split our rights (it was much easier than the Ambani split) on Julie into 80-20. I got to own 80% of Julie for cleaning the crap.

Initially I was worried that my studies would be affected negatively because of Julie but it actually affected me positively in every way.. other than my tiffs with grandma over the cat. Julie would curl up near my legs and give me company when I studied. I felt her company but no interruption at all. I could concentrate more clearly because she never allowed me to feel bored and made me relax.

My grandmother found Julie to be my Achilles ankle, so started taking advantage of this new found weakness in me. She always believed that we were at war and she had to win this at any cost. She tried to prove that she was to be obeyed no matter whether she was right or wrong. At first she tried to tell Daddy that she is allergic to kitty hair but then my sister started wailing so loud, the topic of chasing away Julie was dropped like a grenade whose pin has been pulled out. My sister even scared me to some extent … Phew!

But after our division over Julie, the kitty was with me most of the time…and my grandma started picking on her. It was Julie who broke everything broken around the house, it was Julie who ate every missing food in the house, it was Julie who dirtied everything in the house that was dirty…Everyday Julie committed at least 8 grave sins and it was concluded by my grandma that she will accompany me to hell. I may have turned into a school dropout fearing Julie’s safety but my Mom fell in love with the kitty and so I could leave her in the cruel world filled with crueller grandmas and go to school. My Mom fed her milk and other soft food initially and later on fed her fresh fish etc. When I was not around Julie would sit under my Moms stool in kitchen and be safe.

My dad never liked Julie, since he got the negative reports of her as soon as he came home from work – worn out and tired.

The dear cat would curl up on our bed and stay there the whole night sleeping cosily, where as I and my sister lost sleep fearing we would hurt her. Gradually we got used to it and for once in my life I was not kicking everything and everyone around me in my sleep. Julie taught me to sleep still… [and I still sleep that way even to this day though Julie is no more with me].

One day a verbal duel took place between me and my grandmother. I was coming back from school with my sister when all of sudden, instead of running into us, Julie flew at us at the level of 2 feet above the ground and landed a little in front of me. I was shocked as to what must have happened and then saw my grandmother coming after her… and concluded she had kicked the poor kitty.
“How dare you kick a poor little cat like that Naani?”
“I did not kick it.. why should I get into the bad book of God for some silly little stray cat by kicking it? She came in my way and I stumbled on her”
“Stumbling on cats does not make them fly, only kicking will”
“I said I did not kick her.. that is it”
For some reason my sister was not saying anything and that irritated me a lot. She usually avoided arguing with grandmother and our dad. I could not help it.
My aunt rushed out to see what was happening and asked me why I was crying because I was already in tears thinking of Julie who was sitting aside licking herself calmly.
Somehow between sobs I blurted out “This cruel old woman kicked my cat and it came out flying at my legs”.
“Is that the way to talk about your grandmother?”
“May be not but let us talk about that later. Why should someone kick poor Julie?”
My aunt was confused and irritated for some reason.. but she managed to ask my grandmother ‘why did she kick the poor kitty’.
“That devil of the cat is always running between my legs and trying to kill me, I actually stumbled on it. I swear on Allah!”  exclaimed my grandmother.
“That is it. She swears and we cannot say anything more”, said my aunt.
“Swearing will not take away Julie’s pain”, I had to complain.
“FARI!… will you please SHUT UP now? When someone swears on Allah it means what they are saying is true. If not, Allah will punish them. We are not to dispute this because Allah knows all”.
I was in utter confusion here because I had seen Julie fly .. and there had to be a kick behind it, as she had no wings.. but, aunty was arguing that swearing on Allah meant that there was no kick. My eyes were lying. My aunt loved me and usually stood by me in most of the situations. So this was very irritating and also was irritating was the fact of my sister’s silence. May be she was tensed about the math’s test the next day or may be she had not seen Julie fly out like I did.
I did not argue more but decided that I had something to prove. My mind started chugging away like train engine.. chuk chuk chuk chuk.. and then flashed an idea.
I slowly slipped into a room where few things were kept on the mirror. I broke a nail polish bottle, wiped the mess with my grandma’s blouse, sprinkled face powder in all four corners of the room, made mess on the wall with my pencil and sat to do my homework. I felt Julie had been avenged and she slipped quietly near my feet and went to sleep proving me right.

I almost forgot about my avenging event by working math when shrieks and squeals made me realize the war had begun.. there they were blowing horns and inviting my army (only little me on one side all of them on the other) to fight.
Someone shouted “Fari! Why did you do this mess here?”
“I did not do anything” I answered back defiantly.
“You are a liar” my grandma’s voice was heard over other complaints.
“May be yes, but so are many of you” again a defiant answer from me.
“We want to know why you did this.” Someone shouted back. Now was the right time to teach them something and I said, “I did not do it and I swear on Allah that I did not do it”.
There was utter silence all of a sudden. It was as though the world had stopped and stood still. Then all the muttering of Taubah Taubah started and they started to plead with God to forgive this devil child because she did not know what she was doing.
“What?” I said finally because it looked me this thing is never going to end.
“You stupid girl! How dare you swear on Allah just like that and that too on a lie? Don’t you know how fierce is the fire in hell?” asked my Mom desperate and anxious.
“Now you are not trusting Allah because you are not believing when I am swearing on him. That will make you accompany me to hell”
“How can we trust you when we can see what you have done here? Nobody came here and no one is insane to do this” shouted my grandmother.
“So when you see something and you are sure, you can question the swearing on Allah but I cannot? Hmmmmm….” I answered.
It was at this time in argument that my dad walked in. My grandmother gave a dramatic explanation of everything, where it ended as me swearing falsely in the name of Allah which was presented in fluorescent words. 
My dad was tired, and he did not need this when he came back home.
“This girl needs to learn right from wrong and there is no more room for explanation. She needs to be punished”. Said my dad in tough voice.
So when my mother fretted (she never wanted any of the child physically punished), everyone stood around and watched, a nylon wire was brought, twisted and used as a whip to lash my legs. Yeah! Only legs. Meanwhile I was asked to say sorry to God and promise to never insult him in such way. I did not. I was hurting very badly and my skin had given way in one or two places making it bleed a bit. But no! I had decided not to give in and it was Dad who gave up after 6-7 lashes. It was the only time he had punished me and it was tough for him.
My grandmother smirked and unfortunately I saw that. I could not forgive her easily for that. My aunt wept and tried to pacify me,  but given the anger seething through me, she could not even make any eye contact with me. I was not going to look at any one of them. I was wild, angry and felt I have been wronged. For many days to come I was quite most of the time and just gave angry stares at my family when they tried to talk to me. I did not ask for food and my mother had to remember to feed me something. I stopped allowing her to comb my hair, help me have bath etc. I created my own island in the house and started living on that island and meanwhile unknown to anyone, unheard by anyone.. secretly I had decided that God was my enemy like my grandmother.

My Mom and other members with their loving ways, someone reached out and connected back with me after sometime. The advantage of the incident was that it made everyone become over protective with Julie, who enjoyed her life in our family for a long time to come.

Today, my Mom and Sister have lost their lives to Breast Cancer, along with my Dad, who though suffering from Hodgkin’s cancer died naturally. Their memories have now become a treasure. My sister was a partner with me in everything that happened in my life before our teens. Relationships are not always sweet and fun, it has its darker sides too, but no matter what happens, how angry we are, we cannot stop loving our families.
The incident I have written about has all the sweet, sour, spicy and bitter memories of my childhood. Though just a simple happening in the humdrum of life, it has left some impact on me as an adult. I still cannot relate myself with any religion because I have seen with my innocence the blind way people follow it. I am totally against physical abuse and punishments, because I can still sense the shame and hurt I felt when my grandmother smirked while I was being beaten. I am very careful and cautious when talking to children because I know how sensitive their minds and hearts are.
We cannot take our children and families for granted because it is the small every day happening that will chisel the character and future of the generations to come.  

This entry is a part of the contest at in association with


 The people who have become a treasure in my memories .. I miss them every moment of my life. 


Family faces are magic mirrors -
looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future.

Gail Lumet Buckley


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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