July 24, 2014

Jayamma's Bangles

"Naani.... Naani", Jayamma called out to her nine year old granddaughter. Pressing her palms on the cold black floor to get up, "Aaaa...coming. What Ammamma? I finished my homework already. I just went to play." replied Naani with a frustrated face for being pulled away from the serious game of Ashta Chamma she was playing with Sumathi, the neighbor kid.
"Listen. Go to the school and accompany your taata  home"
"Again?"
"Yeah..Please go fast. Stick with him only. Don't let him leave you and bring him home". Trying not to show her frustration and disappointment, Naani set to run to the school which was at the other end of the village. It was a cloudy sultry evening. As Naani ran, dust rose from her rubber slippers and her pigtails wagged. When she reached his classroom she was panting. Beads of sweat dripped from her temples.  Wiping off the sweat with her frock sleeve, she composed herself and looked around the half empty class. Taata was nowhere.

She ran to the staff room and found the junior science teacher. He always had a smile upon his face and Naani liked him. Seeing her, he wished her and enquired after her well being and how the school was going. But today Naani was in no mood to answer.  She asked if he saw her taata. "I think I have seen him going that way". Saying that, he pointed towards the Principal's room. 

Having been to the school many times, she knew almost every teacher and was familiar with every room. She headed straight to the Principal's room. There she stood still for a minute contemplating. Do I go in or not? Do I knock before going in? Good Manners say that I do.  But who cares about good manners if I don't find him on time? Biting her last nail, she parted the curtain slightly and peeped inside.  Thank god! taata was there!
She waited outside. Impatiently. Each minute felt like an eternity. Her taata came out after ten minutes. Holding his dhoti in his right hand and adjusting something in his shirt pocket with the left hand. Naani jumped to her feet on seeing him. 
He smiled at her. "What are you doing here?"
"Nothing. I came to walk home with you"
But taata knew why she had come. He knew Jayamma had sent her. Looking at her he said, "you go home. I have some work in the bazaar. I will come after some time."
She was in no mood to listen. Jayamma's words rang in her ears. "Don't listen to what he says. Just stick with him and no matter what bring him home". She was determined to not leave him. She argued. "No. I don't want to go home. You also come with me". 
Sensing the firmness of her tone, he said he was going to the bazaar. Naani decided to follow him. Her taata walked fast. He always did. It was hard for her nine year old legs to catch up the pace of her taata's. With each stride of his, she ran three steps. Her legs ached when they reached the bazaar. Nonetheless, she was proud of herself for not giving in and following him. Ammamma would be happy to see her with taata.
Naani all of nine years felt small beside her fifty year old taata. But she felt happy walking the red dusty roads with him. He with steady long strides and she with hopping beside him to catch up. There were clouds in the sky and very sultry. Finally they reached the bazaar. Her taata stopped near the bus stop.  
Taata met an acquaintance and started talking to him. Naani was getting impatient.  She could have played so many rounds of Ashta Chemma by now. But Sumathi would have gone by the time she reached home and Nagamani her step mom would also have woken.
Naani realized it futile thinking about all these things. Instead she would just drag her taata home.
Clutching his shirt sleeve, she started shouting, “Come taata! Come! Let's go. You finished talking to that man, na?"
Her taata leaned his ear toward Naani. He had been partially deaf forever she knew. She yelled into his ears. No use. The entire bazaar could hear her except her taata. Ammamma said his deafness was very convenient. He always heard what  he wanted to hear and not what everyone said. Naani’s words finally made sense to him "Let's get some bananas", he said. Naani was happy. They could go home after buying the bananas. She couldn't wait any longer! Maybe she could still play another round of Astha Chamma. She prayed that Nagamani would still be asleep when she reached home.
Her taata went to the nearest shop which sold cool drinks, candies, weekly magazines and bananas. He bought a dozen bananas and placed them in Naani's hands. He said, "Take them and go home. I will come after some time. I  have some work in the bazaar ."
Naani  was disappointed.
"No taata. I don't want to go. You also come with me."
But  taata was adamant. He promised her he would be home in an hour. Giving up Naani  headed home.
Jayamma was talking to the house owner over the parapet wall when Naani returned. Her pounding heart stopped for a second the moment she heard clang of the iron gate. Naani walked inside with her head bent and a dozen bananas in hand. Jayamma rushed after  her.
"Where is taata?"
"He said, he will come later"
"I told you to bring him home"
"He wouldn't...."
"I told you not to listen to what he says"
"I did ammamma. He said he had to go to the bazaar . I followed him there also."
"Then.......?"
"I waited for him for so long. He kept talking to people and looking at the buses and never listened to me". Naani who was holding her tears at the brink of the eye almost burst. Jayamma was in no position to listen to anything at that moment.
"Okay. don't cry now. Go and see if you can find him and wait there till he comes home."
"Okay, ammmama. I will", said Naani obediently. This time she ran even faster. The clouds burst and it started raining. She cursed herself and the rain at the same time.  By the time she reached the bazaar, she was completely drenched. But miraculously it stopped raining.
She looked around the place where taata left her. She went to the shop. "Venkanna, did you see my taata?" Having seen her many times with the Science teacher, Venkanna recognized her immediately. 
"Yes papa. He was with you a while ago, right?"
"Ayyo... Venkanna, after that. If I go with him, why will I look for him?"
"Aaaa...right...right"
 Finally Venkanna remembered.
"Oh, I have seen him get into the 5:30 bus going to the town. Did you not go with him?"
She went to the bus stand and sat on the bench. She knew he was gone. She tried to swallow the tears and the lump in her throat. What was she going to tell ammamma? Half an hour passed by. She knew it was no use waiting any longer. She dragged her feet home.

Ammamma = Maternal Grandmother
Taata  = Grandfather
To be concluded.....

28 comments:

  1. Oh ho poor girl! And how true sometimes we just yell at children without hearing their side of the story. Good attempt, Latha. Let us see what happens in the next part.

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    1. You are right. I never thought in that angle, that I was conveying that message. Thank you dear for the encouragement.

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  2. So intriguing! Will wait for the conclusion! Great descriptive story, Prudhvi!

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    1. Thanks Rosh! It will be there soon. Glad you found it interesting. :)

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  3. This was a good one. The poor child.
    Waiting for the next part.

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    1. It will be there soon. Thanks for reading, Red :)

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  4. The wait has been worthwhile, Latha:) You painted the scene with your words! Look forward to reading the next part!

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    1. Aww..your comment boosted my morning, Rahul :) I hope not to disappoint you with the second part.

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  5. I can see two different ends to the story :) Waiting to see which one comes right. Good reading.

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    1. You presence is a pleasure. Your comment is a treasure. :) Glad you enjoyed reading it, BM. Let's see which end comes true :)

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  6. nooooooooo you also started this "to be continued" .. now how do i have the patience to wait .. jaldi jaldi :)

    loved the story and welcome back :)

    Bikram's

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    1. hahaha......this time the wait won't be long....thank you so much Bikram :)

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  7. Intrigued!!! .and this was narrated so well..Please post the next part soon.

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    1. Awww... thank you Uma. Glad to see you after so long...happy that you are actively blogging again :) Have to catch up on your missing posts pretty soon :)

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  8. interesting!!!!Lovely narration!!! You have put down the the typical Telugu village backdrop so very well....But i didn't like your SASESHAM ....part....:) I have a guess about the end...
    Congrats dear!!!!

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    1. Hahaha....motham publish cheste chala long ayyipotundi akka...anduke cut chesanu two parts lo....edo suspense unchalani kadu :) Glad you liked it.

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  9. I really realy love this. You describe things so vividly :)

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    1. Thank you so much akka. It wouldn't have been better without your help :)

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  10. Ah,i could see the picture before my eyes.Now what is cooking?

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    1. Nothing much aunty. The second part is out already :) What else does a narrator need other than a comment like this? :) Thank you for reading.

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  11. I love how the story is shaping. Will wait for the next part.

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    1. The second part is out. Thank you Purba. Any comment from a writer like yourself is a big compliment :)

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  12. A very interesting story! Has piqued my interest. Hopping over to the next part.

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  13. Very very curious to know. Going to the next part right away :-)

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  14. Where does he go? I reminded me of childhood days, one round of hopscotch meant a world to us.

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    1. Yep, anything was precious in those days :)

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