The cries they never heard

I couldn’t contain my joy the first time I heard her voice. My Mother leaped, and immediately felt her hand close to me. “I can’t wait to see you”, she said. Her voice was as warm a blanket and as soft as my skin. I spent most of my days eavesdropping, listening to Daddy talk about work, my brother talk about school and the mean bully who took away his lunch. Daddy told him that he needs to learn to fight for his right and that he should stand up to his bully. He was, after all, Daddy’s little prince. “A prince.” he said, “A Prince must be brave and stand against those who want to harm him. He must never back down. He must, if fact helps those who cannot help themselves, and always stand for what is right.”

My daily routine consisted of numerous naps, swimming to change my position, listening to those who visited mamma and listening to all the things happening around me. “You must read because reading now will make the child and avid reader, an intellectual”, they said. “Play soothing music, eat a lot of fruits and keep yourself healthy. We don’t want anything affecting the baby prince now do we?” They told her of various herbal remedies that could cure her cold, told her to keep herself warm and kept reminding her, that the baby prince must be healthy. Listening to these ‘advisers’ soon became a tedious task. All they did, was speak of what she should eat, what she should drink, when she should sleep, how long she should be sleeping for, what she should be reading, what music she should be listening to and what they think, the new prince to come would expect of her. Not once, did they ask Mamma what she wanted to eat or drink. Not once did they ask her what she wanted to read or listen to. And not once, did they consider the possibility of my being the baby princess.

Then came my grandmother. My brother didn’t like her. She came home, to take care of Mamma during the last few months of her pregnancy. She cooked ‘healthy’ for us, ‘helped’ Mamma move around, bullied my brother and generally made life harder. The one thing he never failed to say, was “For your sake, he better be a boy. My family cannot be disgraced. The fact that your first born was a son does not mean you can bring out disappointment. It only increases our expectations. Besides, the last thing we need is another version of you”. I would never be her Princess.

Most of days followed a rather monotonous tone. Sometimes, Mamma would fall sick and throw up and sometimes, she would ask for the food that I wanted to eat. She threw up every time she ate Chinese food- but that’s because I didn’t like the taste of it. It tasted funny. Mamma and I love Ice cream. And chocolates too!!! We like dark chocolate the most, especially the chocolate called Lindt Lindor it is creamy and strongly flavored, and fills a warm feeling in my body.

On some days, mamma would seem really worried. On those days, Daddy would hold her close and she would fall asleep in his arms. She says, that he is the most amazing man she has ever met. He cares for her, for my grandmother, and for my brother. He gives them everything they need and always put their needs first. Daddy always helped my brother with his homework. He needed a lot of help with math. He hated the subject and couldn’t bear to study it. When Mamma got sick of my grandmother’s ‘healthy’ food, Daddy would sneak in food form her favorite restaurant for her. What I never understood was, however, was why daddy always called me his baby Prince. Wasn’t I his princes?

I was uneasy. I was scared. What if they didn’t like me? What would happen to me?

Mamma could tell something was wrong. She felt my emotions. She was worried too. I loved my mamma. And I knew that she loved me too. I was a part of her after all. Wasn’t I?

Daddy saw that Mamma was worried. He held her in her arms and told her that everything will be okay. Everyone gets a happy ending. Always.

Seeing this world for the first time was not easy. I was met with blinding lights and for some reason, I just couldn’t stop screaming. I was whisked away from my mother’s arms, and given a bath. I yearned to be in her arms, feel the warmth of her embrace.

My mother was restless. When she woke, she constantly asked for me, and once given to her, she never let me out of her sight. My father said he was overjoyed. He said he was proud. My grandmother didn’t come visit me. My mother never asked why.

She was restless when she fell asleep, unhappy about letting me sleep away from her, in the cradle placed at the other end of the room.

After what seems to be a short nap, I felt a pair of strong arms lift me from my cradle. One arm immediately went around my mouth, stopping me from crying out.

I was out in the rain and the pitter patter that seemed soothing a little while ago now rang out in cries of pain.

I felt myself being dropped, the stench of wet cardboard making my nauseous.

I was left out. My father wanted me to fade into oblivion.


4th ‘C’ Cross

When I think of Bangalore, I think of the Bangalore of my childhood. Here, birds chirped in the morning, sparrows sang with the choirs in churches, and pigeons prayed with the Imam, all five times a day. I think of cool weather that let me snuggle against my mamma when it got too cold, in her warm, comfortable love. Vehicles meant Ambassadors belonging to MLA’s speeding up the road, with cops on all sides, Maruthis with a family of eight stuffed inside, with the children sitting on top of each other, and Omnis bringing students from their schools. I think of large houses, with old couples living in them. The ladies would feed the stray dogs, while their husbands tended to their garden. I think of a school that was far, far away, and included traveling a long distance that included going to the military owned forest-like land and passing by the lake where I first saw real lotuses, just like the ones in my textbook, with plants growing by that, were eaten by swimming cows. I never knew then, that the lotuses grew in the muck. The lake is a gated community now.  The old houses are PGs. We have so many vehicles outside, that the smoke doesn’t let me breathe.

 I think of the old house where I lived, “Maruthinagar, Madiwala 4th ‘C’ Cross”, I would diligently say when asked for my address. The door number didn’t matter to me. We were all a family.  I think of a warm little lane, where the houses were close by, and everyone knew everyone.

Mamma would wait for me to come home every evening, and Indira, our maid, would have a warm raggi mudde prepared for me. Sometimes, I’d eat it with chicken curry, sometimes with the more sought-after sugar. I’d run out as soon as I’d done eating and changing, to play on the street with all the kids. Names didn’t matter. There were new children who came and went, and all that mattered was playing. Play time meant a free pass into everyone’s house, meaning that if we looked long and longingly enough, we would be blessed with biscuits and chocolate that we came across in people’s homes.

I remember this one time we played with the daughter of one of the masons constructing a building in the lane. We were fascinated by the sand-sieve, and our fascination with it drew us to befriend her. I think we learned pretty early on, that getting what you wanted, meant having friends in the right places.  She was kind enough to let us touch the sieve, and graciously demonstrated its function, while we watched dumbstruck. After all, it wasn’t every day that you could see what it was like to construct a building. She was generous enough to let us keep the stones left over, but were quickly thrown away when our mothers found them. I slyly managed to save a few of the tiny conch shells from the sand though. If I’d known where they came from, I think I wouldn’t have tried collecting them, out of respect for the dead.

 4th C cross meant playing in the neighbor’s gardens, touching the leaves in the plants, and slyly yanking a few off to get a better look. It was going around with my gang of children; all bigger than me, with me, bring a little ringmaster, searching for touch-me-not(s) to touch. There were enough for everyone at the empty plot at the end of the road. It was here that we had our running races, with distances measured according to our heights.  I had the least to run, and suspect that I still would. Parking was never an issue because we always knew who owned the obstructing vehicle.

We would try feeding the stay dog Vicky but would run away when he got a little too excited with the bones. We would stand in my yellow balcony, throwing bones down at the black road later. Monkeys would often visit us, and steal the tomatoes growing on the terraces and in the gardens. We would run away from them, because of the horrendous tales we heard of monkey bites.

Aunties often sat outside and watched us play. I’d fall on the street, scraping my knees and tearing the pants I owned. It didn’t matter that I got hurt because I would have enough people taking care of me right then, that the pain goes away in minutes. Soon, I’d be ready to play again.

I go there now and see a different place. I’ve never been here before, and I didn’t live here for eight years. When asked for my address, I now throw in the door number, because my new home no longer was the same. I never visited my old one, even though I was two lanes away. Somehow, I felt like I lost the claim I had over it. Now, 4th C cross seems spaced out, empty. Like something was taken away. I don’t see children playing on the street because we’ve all either grown up or because we’ve moved, some of us, not that far away.


Biryani down the lane

Often called the ‘Blue Bells Biryani shop’ or the ‘Recharge shop Biryani’, Devaprasad Enterprises never fails to impress. Found in a little nook next to Blue Bells, the women’s hostel, Mr. Devaprasad’s store has been a source of joy to the students of St. Joseph’s College for the past 10 years. Mr. Devaprasad worked as an accountant at Mysore Lamp, a government company, but when it was shut down, he was forced to find another source of income. He opened a stationery store a little inside Akkitimanahalli, but the store wasn’t a success. It was then that he noticed that the students of St. Joseph’s College Shantinagar, often had to resort to eating egg puffs and basic bakery items during their breaks. It was then that he decided to open a store to sell food.  He began with a sandwich shop that sold jam and butter sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, and vegetarian sandwiches too. With a fast increasing demand, his business began blooming, and soon, he received requests for food that would be a little more filling. He then began selling puliogere and lemon rice. Soon, the students began asking for something with a little meat in it, and that was what led to his infamous chicken biryani.

Mr. Devaprasad, a man who had never cooked in his life, decided that he would make chicken biryani. He looked up recipes online, spoke with the people he knew, tried various recipes, using a range of spices in different proportions, making different quantities. Forty times he tried making biryani, and forty times he failed. It was his forty-first attempt that provided a rhythm of sorts to his biryani making and created the recipe that the students love. Numerous people asked him to quit during his trials, but he persevered and after year, he achieved his goal. Mr. Devaprasad and his wife now make about 4 kilograms worth biryani each day. Being the only people involved in the business, they make only the one kind of food, as providing a variety of food would be a difficult task.

“In the beginning, chicken biryani was only 25 rupees, and the egg biryani cost 20 rupees per plate. After that, gradually the prices are going high.” He began selling biryani in the year 2008 and increased his prices by rupees five each year. Now, the chicken biryani is priced at 50 and the egg biryani at 40. Victims of inflation that they are, Mr. and Mrs. Devaprasad continue to make biryani for the students, unable to find it in their hearts to increases their prices to match current times. One of his main aims is to help students because they buy food with their pocket money and have a set allowance.

Mr. Devaprasad often finds students sitting outside his little store as early as 11:30 in the morning, hoping to be first in line for the much-loved biryani. Many of the students eating from here, are from North-East India and are exceedingly fond of it. They even help him in bettering his recipes, he says.

One of the issues he faces is the loss faced on the days that the students have holidays. Unaware, he makes his usual quantity which goes to a waste, as the students are his only customers. “It is not a good business. Because I own I house and my son is earning, I can manage. If I had to run the house with that money it is really a great loss. However, it is moving.” He says.

Having noticed the crowd that rushes for biryani every day, Mr. Devaprasad was also asked to facilitate mobile recharge in his store. Soon after, he was approached with sellers selling Ice creams as well. However, the summer months prove to be a total loss, as his customers are on holiday. Furthermore, the lack of electricity is also a cause of load shedding, which leads to a loss.

One of his most cherished memories, is from the year 2005, during the year he sold sandwiches, that the students of St. Joseph’s presented him with a handmade card, showing him their gratitude. It is a token of appreciation that he still keeps with him. Ex-students still visit him to this day, craving for the biryani that stays close with the memories of their college days.

Just not his pint of beer

Alcohol, as never really been Peter’s shot of whiskey. So, when it comes to getting my darling of a cousin drunk, all it takes is a Breezer, or if he really wants to risk it, a pint of beer. His fifteenth-ish time was during our cousin Melvin’s wedding.

We were fishing by the pond in my aunt’s estate at about ten in the night. The campfire we made didn’t really help with the cold, but it was there all the same. There we were, almost two hours after we started, most of us on our third pints, and Peter still on his first, when Peter suddenly says (his tone oddly serious) “. Zebras have stripes. I like zebras.” This, we could have dismissed if it wasn’t for the second- “Zebras are pretty. This was followed by uncontrollable giggling on his part.

Knowing that he was pretty high, my cousins, being the caring, loving brothers and sisters that they are, decided to give him another pint. I watched, quite suspiciously, as Avi (my brother), had a rather gleeful, pleased and mischievous look in his eyes. Little did I know, that the pint of “beer”. had a shot or two of whiskey in it.

We continued with our little party, cooking the fish we somehow managed to catch. I still remember the taste of the fish, which although filled with bones, in its ginger-garlic, lime and pepper marination tasted amazing. While having our little soiree, the one thing we didn’t notice, is that Peter decided to take a little walk. He was pretty drunk after that second ‘pint’and was giggling uncontrollably. In between this giggling. He gave quite a lot of information about Zebras, always following a form of Japanese whisper. “Zebras live in the wild. Zebras are pretty. Zebras have stripes. I like Zebras. ” he said once. This was soon followed by “Zebras are vegetarians. Zebras live in the wild. Zebras are pretty. Zebras have stripes. I like Zebras.”

Most of broke down, but considering the fact that most of us, now, several pints later, were quite tipsy, this was normal behavior.

So, while on his little walk, supervised by the now drunk Wilma, he landed at the other end of the pond, standing on the pier, with his arms out wide screaming “I’m Superman and I’m going to fly!!!”

We watched, some in horror and some in fascination, as all the boys ran to him, and then jumped into the pond. They swam around, splashed water and eventually got everyone in the pond. We snuck in, at about 3 am the next morning, shivering and half dead.

All of us woke with severe headaches the next day.

Small desires

I couldn’t wait to go back to Mangalore. Mangalore was home to my mother’s mother and my father’s mother.  Mangalore, where the rays of the morning sun caused the beads of sweat one’s body to glisten like diamonds on a platinum necklace.  Mangalore, where tender coconut water poured like the rain, and the roosters crowed while the cows mooed. Mangalore was home.

With a suitcase that was a little too large and smiles that went from jaw to jaw, I prepared myself for the journey. Mamma wasn’t too happy with the size of my suitcase, but I was. After all, I had places to go, people to meet, and good food to eat. I got into the train, ready to stay up all night for our twelve-hour journey.

We reach the next morning, and a cousin of mine comes to pick my brother, mother and me up from the Bantwal railway station. We race home, which is about twenty kilometers away ( or at least, that’s what mamma said to me), and soon, I find my nose tingling to the smell of freshly cut grass, Boiled rice cooking in fires outside various homes, salted fish, and damp mud. And that is how I know I’m home.

As soon as we reach, I run inside to see my grandmother, and with her, I am greeted by the general mob of aunts and cousins. I get kisses, cuddles, and blessings. I look out for my uncles and cousins and find them sitting on the porch, mildly oblivious to their youngest sister coming home. My mother, mildly furious by this, begins to emotionally blackmail them, only for their sons to rescue them, with fresh tender coconuts.

During the days to come, we will attend several baptisms, communions, and engagements. This is one of the perks of belonging to large families. Unlimited, extremely delicious, catered food.

But, it wasn’t the food that I wanted. It was to spend time with Neil. Neil’s family attended most of the events we did. He was tall, smart and warm. When it came to him, I was always greeted with a warm hug that smelled of happiness and chocolate hidden in pockets, just for me.  When with him, my mother would know that I have eaten well, had a good time, and was generally taken care off. I would make my way to him at the beginning of most of the events, and stay with him to the end. Many people in Mangalore gossip about such things, but never about me. I wondered why. Maybe because they knew, that when I would be old enough, we would be married. Days passed, and events went by. No Neil. When I asked my mother where he was, she said that he was a little busy nowadays. What I wanted to know was what could possibly be more important than my being in Mangalore.

And then, I found out. Neil was to be wed to a girl named Samantha. Saying that I was crushed was an underestimation. All that time that we spent together, meant nothing to him. All the games we played, all the secrets we shared, none of it mattered to him. I didn’t want to attend his engagement. I didn’t see why I should. But mother reasoned with me, and I did. I put on a brave face, and fighting the tears, sat through it all. Besides, we were going back home tomorrow, after a month long vacation, and I would ways to distract myself.

Neil was twenty-seven, and I was eleven.

We make the perfect meal

You are tall, coffee and pork steaks with mashed potatoes in the afternoon,

And I’m tiny, wheat and a scoop of chocolate ice cream with freshly baked blondies.

She was magic

I’ve always loved listening to stories. Stories of witches and wizards, ghosts that haunt people’s lives, killers with no mercy, the lands of the mystical, and the land of the unknown. What I always find myself fascinated with was, however, the women living in swaps making concoctions that saved lives, shamans, witches that helped instead of destroying, and spirits of the past that help from a better now.

My little obsession led me to make mystical concoctions out the leaves, flowers, and twigs that I would on my aunt’s estate.  My purple portion would cure stomach aches, made from leaves and flowers, and just a pinch of sand. The green portion would make you taller. It required basil flowers, guava leaves and the skin of a jackfruit, ground with a stone from the river, in a coconut shell.  The yellow one came from coconut flesh, ripe guavas, unripe guavas, and little yellow flowers that aimed to be sunflowers but could do so. It could make you strong and brave. The red one came from the near blooming roses, little buds that wanted to see the light of day, but never quite got around to it. It also contained little bits of red guavas and the flesh of the much recommended Aloe Vera. It made all your fears go away. It could cure PTSD.

I’d mix anything I could find, and walk around curing and helping things that needed my services. I would make little potions that could make them grow, big and strong. Potions that made their roots go deep into the ground, finding water in springs we didn’t know existed. I would swing like Tarzan from tree to tree, in the little jungle that grew near our home, searching for the rarer herbs and spices that I would need. This jungle was said to be home to the dangerous Moova- a snake who would haunt your dreams if he was ever disturbed. I used the yellow portion when I when I went in there. I never met him though. If I did, I’d like to think we’d be friends. I would do the same if I was in his place After all, who likes being woken from a nap?

When I saw two animals who wouldn’t get along, I would give them my pink potion. Made from purple and yellow chrysanthemums, white lotuses and red lilies, my potion would make then fall in love almost instantly. I once used them when two of our cats didn’t get along. We had kitten three months later.

I could make a bird with broken wings fly again. I would use wet mud, the feather of a well-chased chicken, and the flower of a banana plant to make a paste which I would then put on the little birdie, and bind with the leaf of a papaya tree. The little birdie would fly soon enough, because one day, they would just disappear.

My Potions helped, cured and improved. You see, they were magic.

All that glitters isn’t gold

An obsession is an idea or feeling that completely occupies the mind.

Although a dog person, and canine in most of my ways, I have always had a rather feline disposition towards shiny or sparkly objects. They could be chains, earrings, mirrors, firecrackers or the more obscure- golden or silver curtains, objects reflecting light, plates, glasses, and cutlery or my childhood obsession, dad’s glasses of whiskey.

Children usually find themselves attracted to objects because they’re pretty or make funny noises. I don’t really know what actually got me running behind those glasses. I do suppose, however, that it was the color of the golden liquid, rich in its smell and taste, with oil-like swirls swimming at the top, sometimes with little ice-cubes bobbing up and down in them. How many children can one find, that actually like the bitter liquid? How many children. Like the burning sensation, it brings to their throats? We were often told to stay away from alcohol. Because it was “medicine”, and because it tasted bad.  Did I really drink some of it?
Did I really drink some of it?

My mother suspects, that I set on my path of becoming an “alcoholic” at the tender age of two.  I was first told about my queer taste when I was going through an old album contacting pictures from my childhood. One particular picture, taken at our old, rented house in Austin-town, showed my father sitting on the floor, next to the washing machine, a tool box behind him and nuts, bolts, and spanners strewed all around, with a glass of whiskey in hand, with a rather stern expression on his face, waving a finger at me. I was about a foot away from him, bawling my eyes out. I found it rather curious, that my family chose to take a picture of me getting yelled at and weeping, over comforting me.

I ran to my mother with the picture, curious about what was happening in it. I was used to pictures with dad and his glass of whiskey, and I didn’t really know what he was up to. I suspected that I might have stopped him from fixing the machine, or I might have tried eating a nut or maybe I simply refused to stop pestering him.  I showed my mother the picture, where I sat in a little pink dress bawling my eyes out, and my father, in his lungi and T-shirt, was giving me a good talking-to. One look a the picture, and she burst into laughter. After what seemed to me simply too long a time to laugh at a picture, she told me about my queer little taste.

Evers since I learned to walk and climb efficiently, I’d put my best efforts to get the glasses that my daddy would drink from, often managing to take a sip or two out before I’d get caught. I would climb on to the sofas, or the coffee tables, I’d try to get at the dining table and essentially always find a way to sniff out the glass- no matter where dad hid it. My mother then went on to tell me about this one time my dad had a glass behind his feet and under the sofa. I somehow managed to steal away from my hawk-eyed mother, and crawled under the sofa, slowly getting to the glass with the glorious golden exilir. My family spent about twenty minutes searching for me, finding me under the sofa, with my mouth over the glass, without a trace of guilt in my twinkling, mischievous eyes.

Ever since my mother revealed my shenanigans, the “Liquor thief” story frequents at our family gatherings and dinner with our family friends. It’s the first thing she brings up when I’m offered any, and the last story she will ever forget.

Now, I know why daddy always locks his liquor cabinet, and he’s always so careful with his whiskey. At least I taught him to lock things up and make sure no one gets at them. Right?

 I don’t know how my mother broke this habit, and I don’t even know if she actually tried breaking my habit. I don’t even know if it affects the way I drink now. I’m not really a whiskey person, and I don’t know if this old, broken obsession of mine has something to do with it. And that is the story of the obsession that completely occupied my mind.

Image: Huffington Post


Where it begins to feel like home

I understand area a lot better when I walk around in them. Walking is how I understood the grid-like pattern that Koramangala follows, the area that I live in, and the various nooks and crannies in Commercial Street that sell some of the most marvelous things at disturbingly cheap prices. I say disturbing because they showed me how I was being ripped off.  Walking is also my way of remembering.

When I last went to Mangalore, my hometown, to our ancestral home on Bishop Victor Road, this became pleasantly clear to me. Our home is a short walk away from Crave, the one café that sells annoyingly delicious pastries at refreshingly cheap prices- the pastries that I crave for, during each trip to Mangalore. The café that I make a point to visit, every single time. The walk from my home to Crave is about two and a half kilometers. The funny thing about walking in Mangalore is that every place feels far away. The various ups and downs that the terrain provides make walking for such distances seem like a tedious feat, even though the same distance in Bangalore, would be a cinch. It’s a lot like the walk from the front of the Humanities block, where the flat areas provided between the consecutive staircases makes going up to the third floor a tolerable task, whereas taking the staircase at the other end of the building, feels much like climbing a mountain.

My walk begins, with me going out of our quiet little neighborhood and towards the Main Road. The first time I was allowed to walk out by myself, I was fifteen. The first time I was allowed to travel around Mangalore alone. I went out to meet my cousin and was asked to catch an auto as soon as I saw one, and not to walk past the main. If I couldn’t find an auto there, my cousin would have to come and pick me up. In Bangalore, I’m trusted alone. My parents know that as long as I’m comfortable in an area, I’ll be fine. However, our constant use of the car led to a sense of over-protectiveness in Mangalore. Every time I leave home, I think about that first time (it was about time too), when I found my way out and got to see a bit of the little city by myself. Stressed out about finding appropriate jewelry for my cousin’s wedding, and excited about being let out to travel by myself, I made my way out, without anything but a few basic directions given to me.

I walk through the streets that lead me out and make my way to the main road. The streets are filled with some of the most beautiful, ancient, gargantuan mansions I have ever come across, with their chain sometimes broken by equally colossal apartment blocks. The mansions have been lived in for many, many years, but somehow, still look new. Each of these gates bears the sign ‘Beware of Dogs’, beyond which is a vast veranda, outlined by various trees, shrubs and creepers. The houses also alternate between fancy cars, and well, not so fancy ones. So far, I’ve counted ten Mercedes’, five BMWs and three Beatles. I’ve also found Nanos, Maruthis and a few lower end Skoda and Ford models. These streets and homes, hold the secrets of my fear while trying to navigate around the neighborhood. The memories where my ex-boyfriend, or any male friends for that matter, had to drop me off a few houses away, to save me from the prying eyes of my overly conservative family, the way I ran away from an old, unkempt house, for fear the eerie feeling it gave me, or even the time my cousins and I laughed at my aunt, when she closely resembled a ghost as she walked home in the night, hair out open and arms stretched out wide with Mehendi on them. Beyond our little neighborhood, is Vas Lane. It ends with Vas Bakery, an ancient monument whose breads make the mouth water even today, and begins with Balmatta Road. Which leads to Crave. With its swarm of apartments and interlocked tiles for the path, Vas Lane had always fascinated me. I’ve never fully understood why though. It is a modern lane, in a city from a different era, but still manages fit in, like the perfect key to a lock. Through the years, it has given me a sense of comfort, closeness.

Vas Lane is how I find my way home from the Main Road. It’s distinguished pattern, allows me to find it easily, and is a route, that I will always enjoy taking. With its apartments and stray dogs and cats, it feels like a little piece of Bangalore managed to creep into this old, sleepy city. This lane, makes the area feel known, familiar. This is where it begins to feel like home.

The Older House

Some things I can’t forget, like when I first damaged someone’s property. Four of my neighbors cream colored flower pots kept on the compound wall that we shared. She called for my mother and somehow, they ended up becoming best friends. Rani Aunty, my mother’s new best friend introduced me to her daughter Tummi. I can never forget her name, it still makes me giggle like I did the first time I heard it. Tummi was a pretty little girl- with the chocolate brown skin, light brown eyes and thick, jet black hair, tied into two thick plaits. We were both five years old, and despite being different in many ways we jelled well. I liked playing with trains, bows, arrows, and slingshots (like the ones I used to break the flower pots), while she liked dolls and kitchen sets. We did, however, share a strong love for Mickey Mouse and Goofy. I remember sharing my toys with her, I even remember the background stories of few of the toys. There was the naked Barbie, an alien who was the queen of the whole house. She got beheaded and the head used to be kept in the bathroom. That is one the most disturbing background stories I can recall. There was also the Teddy bear doctor, who fixed everyone with a magical wand he stole from an evil witch. He used to be a man, but the witch cursed him. He ran away with her wand but never managed to break the curse. Now all I can remember about Tummi, was how she kept telling me how she loved my room in her Tamil accent.

My room in my old house was a unique place, one that I would often use to escape from the outside world. When I ever-so-slightly twist my wrist, hand clasped around the circular brass door knob that was adjoined to my delicately wood-stained door, I opened a passage to a completely different atmosphere- one that provided a sense of comfort and stability. On the eastern wall of my room, were polaroids from family vacations and trips. And right in front of the eastern wall, was a small couch on which lay my soft toys ones of Mickey Mouse and Goofy seated in pride. To the west was my favorite piece of furniture, my bed. I used to love my bed, with its Mickey Mouse bed spread, and Goofy pillow covers. On the southern side, stood my small wardrobe which had all the dresses I owned when I was small. It also had my other stuffed toys and all my pretty little shoes. I still remember the aroma of my room, vanilla with a hint of coconut.

Sometimes, I’d feel jealous of my brother because he had a bigger room, but then it was fine because mine was a lot prettier than his. I had a small story book shelf in my room, from which my mamma used to pick out a book, every night and read stories out to me.

We lived in a building with a black gate, an apartment of sorts, in Austin-town.  It was rented, and the landlady lived in the house on the top floor. The building had five floors, with two houses on each floor. We had a garden on the terrace, tended to by our landlady.

I remember the house having a cream-ish color. We had an old sofa set that was bought when my brother, who is eleven years old, was born. Water was a rare commodity, and my mother would often have to wait by the taps, filling water when it did come. We had a small kitchen that had just enough space for our stove, a few sets of china, the few pots, and pans, and our cutlery. It was a three bedroom house, but just barely. I remember crawling into my mother’s bed when I had nightmares, but don’t know how the room looked. I don’t remember our toilet either.

The rooms, although small, are a storehouse of memories. This is the house where my grandfather passed away. It is the house where I first saw my father cry. It is the house where I first learned to do my chores, the house where I first learned to make toast and scrambled eggs. This is the house that my first pet, a goldfish named Swim lived in. this is also the house where he passed away.

This is our small storehouse of memories.