|Source: Write Tribe|
It was my 12th year birthday and I was standing along with my friends, playing ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ game. I was laughing merrily as I watched my best friend trying to pin the tail on the donkey’s mouth. Our house was decorated with balloons, colored crepe papers and large cut outs of cartoon characters. My family had come from different cities to celebrate my birthday. It was after a long time that I was meeting my cousins and I was having a great time. My father was welcoming the guests who were still trickling in through the front door.
My eyes searched for a lone, frail figure but I couldn’t see her anywhere. My friends pulled me aside and I was forced to participate in a musical chair game. I forgot about her as I happily ran around and scampered to find a chair when the music stopped.
Then my uncle brought the cake and all the kids screamed with joy as they saw the magnificent cake. They were waiting for me to cut the cake but I wouldn’t celebrate my birthday without her presence. My eyes finally found the familiar silhouette standing away from the crowd and looking at the festive surroundings with a yearning in her eyes. My heart went out to her yet again, like it had every time I saw her, desperate for acceptance and aching for the love that she never received in our house.
I looked at her dirty, torn dress and her little feet that were cracked due to walking barefoot on the cold, hard floor. I looked down at my own feet, clad in the new shining shoes that my father had bought for me. They looked so good on my feet, that I had been excited and happy seeing it. But now the guilt came to bite me hard. I wanted to remove the shoes and throw them at the person who had bought it.
Suddenly she turned and our eyes met. A glint of happiness and joy lit in her otherwise downcast eyes. She was my younger sister, but our lives couldn’t have been different. While I had the best of everything I wanted, she worked hard to survive. While I went to school and received love, care and attention she was shoved around the house and ignored despite her obvious attempts to please my family. Although she was just 4 years old, she was precociously mature. She knew that she was the unwanted child, the cursed one, the bad omen who had brought doom to our family. But nothing could have been farther from the truth. The bitter truth that only I knew. The truth that I had carried on my back as an unbearable burden for so long. But today something broke within me. I had to stand up for her, she was my sister and she deserved as much love, if not more, from everyone as I did.
I walked to her, took her hands and guided her to the table where the cake was kept.
“What are you doing Nimit? Why did you get her? Don’t you know she is a bad omen?” my aunt stopped me, dragging Nimmi by her hand and taking her outside.
But I obstinately blocked her path.
“She is not bad omen. She is my sister.”
“What sister? She killed your mother. Did you forget it? She only brings tragedy wherever she goes.”
“No she didn’t kill Amma. She was just a couple of months old when my mom died. And she is not to be blamed for that. If there is anyone to blame then it should be him.” I cried pointing my finger at my father.
My father rushed towards to me and slapped me.
“What nonsense are you speaking? Have you lost your mind, boy?” My father’s eyes were burning with rage and temper but I looked at him bravely.
I had seen this face of his many times before, when my mother was at the receiving end of his wrath.
“Why Appa? Have you forgotten that night when Amma died? Have you forgotten how you slapped her, how you hit her that night in the balcony. Yes I saw it all.”
I was aware of my relatives gasping at the truth. I was shaking like a leaf, terrified as the memory of that nightmare came rushing back to me.
“You hit her again and again, even when she pleaded you to stop. She lost her balance and she fell from the balcony. My sister didn’t kill Amma. You did, your anger did. I was there, although you didn’t know it. And I was terrified. I was scared to tell the truth to anyone. All these years I was silent even though I knew that Nimmi was never the reason for Amma’s death. You allowed your own daughter to take the blame, even when people called her a bad omen you didn’t admit anything. Enough is enough, Appa. I won’t allow Nimmi’s life to be harmed for a fault of yours.”
Nimmi came and hugged me, scared of all the yelling that was going on.
“Sssh Nimmi. It’s ok. Everything is going to be ok.” I comforted her as I saw my father drop his head down and crumble on the floor. Some of my relatives came to hug Nimmi but some were still looking on with disdain and hate at my Appa.
I did not know what the future held for me and Nimmi. But I knew that from now onwards I would be Nimmi’s father, mother and brother. I would shower so much love, care and affection on her that she would never ever feel lonely or neglected.
This post is written for Write Tribe Wednesday Prompt