“I am Deepa studying in class six and wish to narrate an incident on Mother’s Day.
It was around 7pm one day and my dad was due anytime. I was cleaning vessels to help my mom who was giving finishing touches to the dinner she had cooked. We wished to finish the kitchen work before he came. She gets stressed around this time though not without a reason. My dad is an alcoholic, violent when drunk as he is always in the evenings and beats my mother blue for no reason. He would let out on her all his frustrations suffered outside the home during the day and leave her on the floor bruised all over the body mouthing profanities nonstop. He would gulp his food laid on the table like a glutton and spread himself on the couch to fall asleep and snore loudly. It was a disgusting daily ritual that we hated but could do little to avoid. To my pleadings to my mother that we move away from him, her constant refrain was, “He is a good man when sober. He doesn’t know what he is doing when intoxicated.”
I heard the sound of his vehicle and soon he was banging the door impatiently even as mom hurried to open. I hid myself behind the door of the kitchen afraid of his mad fury. I hated him intensely.
I heard a hard slap followed by his shouting,” You slut, why do you keep me standing outside. Didn’t you hear the loud knocks on the door? Are you deaf or what?”
“Could you not wait for a few moments. I was in the kitchen making rasam(soup) and waiting for it to froth,” mom was pleading in defense with her hand on her burning cheek. She knew he was fully drunk and was in dread of his rage.
“How dare you backchat today?” he shouted even as he pulled out his belt and mercilessly lashed at her. She cringed in pain and was begging him to stop hurting her. He kicked her finally before he tottered to the sofa.
I waited for him to doze off and then tiptoed towards mother. She was sobbing more hurt by his inhuman behaviour than pain. I caressed her and requested her to come to her bedroom.
“He has fallen asleep without taking his dinner. You go to your room. I will join you soon. Do not worry. This is no new thing,” my mom whispered.
“Don’t you have self-respect? Why do you demean yourself? Who cares whether he eats or not?” I said in anger.
She patted my cheeks with a trace of smile and signalled me to go to my room. I could not sleep for a long time thinking how this harsh routine could be changed. It was my mother’s birthday tomorrow and happily it was Mother’s day too. I wanted that day to be a happy day with no harsh word spoken to her. Let me confess that somedays when he was cruel to my mom I wished in my hate that he were dead.
The next day at the school I was standing alone not playing with my classmates thinking about my mom. I wished to buy her a gift for her but had no money. Someone ran her hand on my head from behind and I turned to see Swarna madam smiling at me.” Why are you not playing with others? Why the sad face?” she asked.
Did I tell you that I love my teacher Swarna madam? She knows about my family as I confide in her when things became worse at home.
“Ma’am, today is my mom’s birthday and happens to be Mother’s day too. I have nothing to gift her but I want it to be a happy one for her free from the daily scolding and beating. I shudder at the thought of a drunken monster coming home in the evening and hitting her,” I told her
“No Deepa, you should not speak of your dad like that. I do not like it at all. Did you say today is your mom’s birthday? Do not worry. I hope he comes home sober and is kind to your mom. Meet me before you go home. Hurry now to the class, the bell is ringing.”
When I met her after the evening bell, Swarna madam hugged me and said, “Do not worry. Your dad will nice to your mom. Here is a small bouquet, a token gift from you and me for your mom. Tell her my regards and good wishes.”
It was only 6. 30pm.The house was clean and the air was filled with fragrance from the incense stick lighted in the puja place. There was smell of elaichi and saffron from the kheer she had prepared. Mom looked charming in her silk sari. My dad was not expected before 7pm. Still my mom was pacing to and fro to the front door looking for him.
It was then I heard a gentle tap on the door. Who could be at this hour, I wondered. My mom hastened to open the door as was her wont. Her face beamed as dad entered singing ‘Happy birthday’ tune much to her delight and surprise. He was followed by a person of his age in police uniform. “Meet my college mate Asokan who I learnt today is the Inspector of police in our city. He surprisingly met me at my office when I was about to leave and insisted that he would come with me. I could not shake him off for my usual haunt,” he said with a sheepish smile.
He looked around and asked, “Where is the little girl, Deepa?” I ran up to him from the corner not believing whether it was real.
“Deepa, I haven’t forgotten today is your mom’s birthday. I got the hint from the banner “Happy birthday, my dear mom’ you had stuck at the dining hall,” he said with a loud guffaw. He proffered the two packets in his hands to mom, one I could see surely contained a cake from the famous bakery’s name on it and the content of other remained a secret.
“Do you want to know how this buddy of mine found me out?” he asked me with a glint in his eyes. It seems his sister is working at your school and got to know from her that I am living here. He even got to know from his sister that today is your mom’s birthday. It seems you are tom tomming every little thing at the house to your teacher.”
“No appa, I do not gossip with anyone. I talk only to my class teacher and answer the questions she asks,” I said.
“Is Swarna your class teacher,” asked dad’s friend. I nodded in affirmative.
I ran inside in joy to set the table with the cake and the candles. Suddenly the thought of Swarna ma’am telling me once that her brother was in city police occurred to me. I could immediately surmise her effort behind her brother’s surprise meeting my dad unaware till then that he happened to be his college buddy. I brought out the bouquet I had kept hidden to put it on the empty vase setting the mood for celebration of my mom’s birthday and Mother’s day.