Thursday, December 08, 2005

To the kid who always got into trouble

I never really did get down to saying sorry.
You will probably say it isn’t important now. And perhaps you’re right. But I’d really like to go with impulse this once.

Did you know then, that I’d been watching you that day? I was hiding behind the curtain, you couldn’t see me. But I saw you, working assiduously, every nerve and tendon concentrated upon the task at hand, as you scribbled furiously. I remember that tiny 3-foot-nothing, bright yellow-chaddi clad, black skinned frame with its back to me, working on the television screen with Amma’s lipstick. And do you know something? Secretly, I was thrilled – I was to be the harbinger of this event. I’d get you in trouble. Perhaps I’d be rewarded. I’d gloat.

Squeeler, Gloater, Reporter of all your nefarious deeds. The good child. Me.

There you were now, your plump bottoms trembled as your fingers pressed and scratched upon the screen infront of you. You had eyes and ears for nothing else, all attention was rivetted on that stick of red, now broken in two, in your hands, and the screen in front of you. So you didn’t hear me as I crept up noiselessly behind. I watched you as you opened the fine control section and plastered it with sticky red. You’d still not noticed.
And I smiled. There was no getting out of this one, boy. I tiptoed out as silently as I’d entered.


Amma was horrified. There was lipstick everywhere – the screen had it, the speakers, the inside of the fine-tuning section, even the remote control. So yeah, you’d pretty much ruined our brand new television. The television that Acha hadn’t yet finished paying installments for. Our 25-inch, colour, wide-screen, pride and joy.
You spun around as rapidly as if it were reflexive, the moment you heard her voice. Your eyes swimming with horror as you looked from me to her to me again. I remember your eyes – wide with fear, rounded, goggly black discs darting madly in white. They lingered on at me for just a moment longer than I’d have liked them to.

Betrayer, Deliverer into enemy hands, Wolf who had no need of sheep’s clothing. Me.

She watched, horrified and silent for a long while.

“ come . here . you . little . devil .”

Her voice was just audible – I’d never heard her this angry. And her face. Her face had many colours – all those hues that make up what they call Rage.

I knew the moment your eyes darted around the room. I was ready. You made a desperate attempt at flight from under her arms and around me. But I’d sealed the entrance already. I wasn’t going to let you go. No way. That’s what you’d done the last time, do you remember? You’d run after scribbling on the Kashmiri carpet with your crayons, upstairs to Granny’s room. Your ever-safe haven.
Not this time. I grabbed hold of your bright-yellow chaddis and yanked you back with both hands and all the might in my 7 year old body, while you kicked, pummeled and bit my arm. And I handed you to Amma, squashing all your hopes of clemency. No clemency for you, boy.
Do you know how much I hated all that you used to get away with? I hated it - always being the kid who did everything right. While you just did what you felt like. Every time. And never got punished enough. There was always a neighbour, an aunt or a grandmother coming to your rescue. And yet, all your antics notwithstanding, you were still the 'delightful bundle of wits' whose imagination while carrying out the systematic destruction of expensive household items made people laugh.
Of course, I was appreciated for being the ‘responsible one’, the more ‘sensible’ older kid, but that just didn’t seem enough now. Defectors must be punished. Especially when defecting was so much fun.

Catcher of escaping boys, Preventer of clemency through grandmothers, Ensurer of adequate punishment to TV ruiners. Me.

I knew what would happen next. You’d be locked in the study till Acha came back and then you’d be caned 3 times on each leg. Thinking of that made me happy. And why shouldn’t I be happy? It took a great deal of effort to be the good child. But what would you know about that?

You’d been locked up for 2 and a half hours when Acha came back from office.
And now, here’s what you don’t know. You don’t know, do you, that I did feel sorry. The moment Acha took his cane down after Amma had told him. I thought maybe locking you up in the study without a fan for 2 hours and a half hours was enough. Maybe you’d get hurt more than I wanted you to, if he caned you. Maybe you’d never speak to me again.
Oh. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want you never to speak to me again. All I wanted was you to be punished just enough so you’d mend your ways. And cross over, perhaps, to my side.

So I went to him. “Acha”, I began. “Let Mon go. He’s sorry and won’t do it again”.
But he wouldn’t listen. He was even angrier than Amma had been. I didn’t like him at all. After all, I’d caught you. Who was he to decide I didn’t have anything to say in what was going to be done to you?

So you did get caned, in the end. I heard you cry, saying you were sorry and that you’d never do it again. Trust me, if I could have rescued you then, I would have.

Me. The wicked elder sister. I was sorry too.