Living Alone I
Teeeeeee!!! Teeeeeeee!!! Saleena! Teeeeeee!!! Mother was screaming, banging the bathroom door. I rushed out with partly rinsed hair, water dripping all over on the black tiled floor of Mamma’s kitchen – I would do anything to stop her from screaming ‘tea’ every morning. I had even forgotten to wrap myself with something. Mamma did not seem to notice, my sister Rati did. She was sitting at the dining table sipping her tea with a smug mother’s pet look about her.
“Mamma, Didi forgot to wear her undies. Tee hee hee hee!” She grinned showing her teeth smeared with Mamma’s homemade apple jam.
Mamma was not listening. She was all hassled up and grumbling about something as usual. She slammed my mug on the table, spilling half its content, “Finish your tea and be off!” She said without looking. “Mind you I won’t have it if you’re late again. That Rai boy's coming this evening. I shudder to think how you’ll manage a married life! A girl your age should know what is proper and what is not… You can’t be waking up this late, roaming around like a hooligan …
Teeeeeeeeeee!!! I sat up on my bed. Mother was indeed calling for tea.
“Coming Mamma!” I shouted rushing into the bath room.
I had brushed, showered combed and changed in five minutes. It was impossible, I know, but the sound ‘Teeeeee!’ did that to me.
“Hello Mamma” I greeted her with sluggish smile padding towards the window where my orchids were dancing to soft breeze. Mamma didn’t seem to mind me greeting her in English anymore. I finally found in her the friend I’d been looking for. I could tell her anything! Even about that boy in a red car, who drove by me everyday while I waited for bus. He started looking my way, and then smiling. I smiled back. I didn’t mean to. It just happened.
I realized after meeting him that my eyes were windows to fascinating secrets, and that in the gentle rise and falls of my body, there hid chest full of treasure he loved to discover. The Christian boy in the red car who’s name was Alex, became my boyfriend. I allowed his hands all over my body. Mamma seemed thrilled to hear that. I allowed him to do more, but thought she should get used to the name 'Alex' first.
I fed left over water from last night’s supper to the orchids, and then poured myself some tea. The Japanese stainless steel tea-pot with a timer shone as I tipped it over my mug; dropped a slice of bread in the toaster, put two teaspoonfuls of sugar, and stirred until the bread popped out. I then sat down with yesterday morning’s newspaper that was picked up from the stationary across the road last night; a day old news being free. I was scanning through the headlines when someone knocked…
A rare occurrence – I had no milkman or a friendly neighbor, apart from that chap next door, who gave me the orchids. Loved the Orchids by the way, but can’t say the same about him. He was plain weird. I’d never heard him talk or seen him with anyone.
So, practically new here, although it had been over one year since I moved.
It could be a salesman I thought when the knocking became impatient. Often wondered why they never found my door. It was as if they knew I had no money to spend on whatever it was they wanted to sell. The day being Saturday however, I was in no mood to entertain a salesman. Couldn’t be rude, couldn’t afford to be generous. What could I do, but wait for whoever it was, to go away, so I could go to the zoo and watch the animals. I had been looking forward to do that. I had some shopping to do after that.
Shopping…rarely got to use that word since I left home. I therefore used it even if it was just a pair of flip flops and a swimming costume that needed to be bought. And then, got to enroll for swimming classes. It wasn't fun not to know that art when the whole office team was having a splash at the pool party. When my friend Ritu dragged me, told her I had my period. She handed me a white long thing. That thing was a Tampon – I discovered later. Escaped the party saying I had the most unbearable cramps. When I actually had my period, I Google searched and learned the way to insert a Tampon, and did not like it – it felt like a tiny penis stuck inside me that could not perform.