Today. Today I’ll tell him, no matter what. He promised to be in a good mood today, so I don’t have to be scared.
I reassured myself, looking into the mirror. The pony is not looking good. Chunks of hair are bulging from here and there. How is it that Mamma used to tie it so perfectly in a matter of seconds? Maybe it’s something only Mammas can do. When I’ll be a Mamma, I might also learn to do it properly.
I put my hair down and put two tic-tac clips on both sides of the tidily middle-parted hair. Looks neater now. I reached for the eyeliner resting amidst Mamma’s jungle of other small fancy bottles of cosmetics whose names or uses I never know. But then, I decided against it. That school anniversary day when I tried it on, it looked like the semicircles I tried to draw on the Maths notebook when on the way to school in car- all zigzaggy and untidy. And when I cried that evening when Papa scolded me for wasting food, it got all the more messy. Like my windowsill in the first rains, when the raindrops get all black and dirty from the dust on the pane. It made him even angrier.
I sat on the couch near the front door. From here, I can hear when the elevator bell rings. Its not time yet for him to come. I could maybe get done with my homework by the time he comes. But. But I feel like there’s a small warm furry thing in my tummy. Like a small rabbit. I feel its rubbing against me inside my tummy that’s making me feel sick. It’d be gone once I tell Papa everything. And then I can do my homework properly.
He’ll be here when that small hand almost touches nine and long hand touches eight in the clock. The long hand is still at 3. It looks like its pointing towards the black and white picture of Mamma and Papa sitting right next to it on the teapoy. She looked prettier in the picture. I noticed creases on her forehead today morning when she dropped by to wish me happy birthday. But the smile is the same as before. Or is it? I don’t know for sure. But she smelled the same as before like the Yardley powder at her dressing table. Like a garden full of roses in a . . . .
* * * * * * * * * * *
“Where is my birthday girl . . Where is my lil bulbul . .”
I jolted up from the couch as he planted a kiss on my forehead and hugged me close. He stunk of the thing he drinks all the time. How could I have not heard the elevator bell or the door opening!
“Thank you Papa!”
His eyes are a little bit red too.
“Did my bulbul sleep off waiting for me? I’m sorry my bachcha. I couldn’t get here any earlier.”
“It’s okay Papa . . “ The long hand was close to touching 11.
“Here’s a gift for my lil pumpkin.” He handed me a long slender box which had a picture of a long-limbed doll girl on one side.
“And here’s for making my birthday girl wait.” A box of chocolates followed.
“Thank you so much Papa!” The little rabbit inside was becoming warmer and furrier.
“When did Vignesh sir leave bachcha?” He was already lying down on the couch with his white phone with a bitten apple picture on its back in hand.
“He left after sunset Papa.”
“Did he clear the maths problem you asked me today morning?”
“Mmm . . Yes”
“Did Aaya didi give him tea and snacks before she left?”
“Mmm . .”
He was dozing off already.
“Papa . .”
“Haan mera bulbul, bataao.”
“Did you eat the cake Mamma brought in the morning?”
“I’ll eat later mera bachcha.”
“Papa. . “
“Go and do your homework now and go to bed early jaan. Papa is tired today. And tomorrow you have class too na?”
“Mmm . .”
“I’ll take you to the park and have KFC day after tomorrow, okay? It’ll be a holiday for both of us then and can celebrate your birthday peacefully.”
“That’s okay Papa.”
“Now go do your work then bachcha, before Papa gets angry”
The lil rabbit has ballooned up in my tummy.
“Papa . .”
“Hmm . .” He is almost asleep. I can say that from the way his mouth is slightly open and his hand not holding the mobile is swaying lifelessly out of the edge of the couch. I walk back to my room quietly and opened my Maths textbook.
Maybe I can tell him day after tomorrow when we go to the park. I think it will be better than telling him now. There will be many people around us. So he won’t scold me loudly even if he gets angry. He will be angry at Aaya didi also for not bathing me properly. If she did, Vignesh sir won’t say that I smelled bad and bathe me again after she has left. Papa will be angry at me for letting a teacher bathe me, which is what Vignesh sir said, as teachers are next to Gods and should not be made to do such chores. He said he loved me so much and wanted me to smell good and that’s why he bathed me even though he is a teacher, but that Papa would still be angry at me if I told him. But if I don’t tell him, he’ll be angrier if Vignesh sir ever has to complain about me to him about this, if I smell bad every day.
But after he bathes me, he says he also gets dirty and asks me to put soap on him and rub him. He takes my hand to wherever I have to scrub him with soap. I don’t like doing it, but it is because I smell bad that he has to bathe me and get dirty himself. But Mamma had never said she got dirty after bathing me. Maybe that is also what only Mammas know, how to bathe others without getting dirty. When I’ll be a Mamma, I might also learn to do it properly.