Tuesday, 5 June 2007


I was 4 or 5 when this happened.

"Wake up, go bathe (poyi kullike)."

It was still pitch black outside. It was the quietest I'd ever known, save for the noisy insects 'kee-ing' outside.

"I'll keep your clothes ironed on the ironing board (a table with extra layers of bed-sheets). You can go upstairs and take a shower. "

I liked taking a bath in the guest room upstairs. I sat up and manoeuvred myself out from between my cousins, wincing as my well-wrapped (pothachumoodi kiddanna) feet touched the cold mosaic floor.

The sole street-lamp cast its feeble white light, through the misted windows, casting contorted butterfly shadows of the window grill on the furniture in the living room. Amma was ironing rummaging through shelf (wardrobe). I trotted upstairs and into the bathroom.

Shivering cold. Where are my shirt and nickers (shorts)? I peeped out from the bathroom, and found the nickers. Amma must be ironing the shirt. I switched off the lights before leaving the room and navigated downstairs in the dark - I know my home like the back of my hand.

5 steps down. Landing. 9 steps down. 1big step and 1 small step.

The green polo shirt was laid out on the table. Amma is not there. Gingerly, I grasp the iron and laid it down on the shirt. I wanted to iron my shirt, it's satisfying to watch the creases disappear and making the surface as smooth as you can. I moved it up and down-

It's gone too far. I felt the rim slide across my chest held tight against the table.

It was hot. Very hot. VERY, very hot. I try to blow away the heat and the pain. I can't stand the pain, the burning pain. I can't make a sound. If I do, I'll get in trouble, big trouble for ironing without permission. I don't like getting scolded, especially in the morning, during the holidays. I was going to keep quiet no matter what.

Amma is coming back with some of her clothes. I slid my T-shirt on without letting it touch the raw burn. It's very hot. Luckily, I pulled off my nonchalant face and made it past her to the settee (sofa) where I could nurse my single horizontal tilaka branded on my chest. I blew on it. I dripped water on it. I opened the fridge and bared my chest to it - the freezer compartment was too high.

"Stop playing with the fridge. Drink the milk, it's on the table. "

I must have missed my prayers in the morning or did something bad. God is repaying me. It's going to be a long and tortuous train journey on the Venad.

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