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I wake up to the sound of big droplets of water splattering on my window. The sky is a dark grey outside and heavy rain is pouring down. I groggily look at my alarm clock and wake up with a start. Its half past 7 already and nobody bothered to wake me up. I have to take two tuition classes today and both in the exteriors of Vashi. I won’t even get an empty bus at this time and those stupid drains near the Corporation school must have also leaked out. So now I have to be stuck in the traffic for nearly an hour, inhale all the susu-potty the primary school kids did yesterday just to go teach students who have no interest in Hitler’s history and call him ‘chote moocho wale uncle’ instead. I should have listened to my amma and married the boy with the BMW. But on second thoughts even the idea of a fancy car does not make up for his extremely sexist views. Where is my early bird mother anyway? She usually glides in to the room every morning smelling of Mysore sandal soap and Cuticura talcum powder, complaining that Lalli aunty from the third floor came down again to fight for the newspaper. Somebody needs to explain to this Lalli woman that she is not the only subscriber to The Times. Her daily curses in a heavily accented Marathi wakes me up before my hello kitty alarm.
I suddenly realise that the house is unusually quiet. No annoying milk cooker sirens or washing machine noises. Even the TV is switched off. It looks like my father has for the first time in years missed out on his morning news with the half sleepy Mallu reporters. I cannot even hear our Lalita bai loudly humming a Dada Kondke number which she usually does while lazily sweeping the specked tiles. This feels creepy. Maybe I slept through a big storm and my whole family was washed away. Maybe when I open the door to my room, the strong currents will take me along as well. I can imagine my mother calling out to me for help, keeping afloat on our 10 year old woodpecker dining table.
Just when I am trying to convince myself that I must be hyperventilating and an extra hour of sleep is making me go crazy, a gush of water enters my room through the space below. Oh God!
‘Neetuuuuuu!’ my mother calls out.
My mother must be drowning and she does not even know how to swim.
‘Ammmmmaaa! ‘I scream.
She opens my door in one swift push.
‘Ae why are you screaming early in the morning?’ she asks irritated.
I check to see if her saree is wet and if there are any furniture floating behind her. But all I can see is Lalita bai squatting on the ground cleaning the floor, a big bucket of Dettol mixed water near her hand and an involuntary frown on her face. Okay I was clearly wrong but what in the world is going on here?
‘Lakshmii! There.. there. Look properly.’ My mother screams bending over bai’s gigantic cleavage, pointing at some non-existent spot of dust.
‘Amma! What is all this? Why did you not wake me up earlier? I butt in.
‘Oh, I did not want to wake you up so early and spoil your beauty sleep’
Which beauty sleep is she talking about? I just woke up to two black jamuns for eyes and a Lasith Malinga hairstyle.
‘Amma, I have two classes today and it’s also raining. How do I reach on time now?’
‘You are not going anywhere today. Call those people and cancel. Get out of the bed so that I can apply oil on your hair. Where is that pearl necklace Jia bought you from Singapore? It cost over 15,000, you know. So beautiful!’ she says rummaging through my wardrobe and giving side glances to the bai.
My mom has this weird habit. She drops in names of some of the most expensive items we possess along with their prices in her everyday conversations. Like for example ‘I have packed idly for your tiffin today. It almost slipped out of my hand; it was that soft you know. All because of that 30,000 ka butterfly grinder we bought last week.’
Lalita bai on the other hand, cranes her neck around in attention as soon as she hears any big amount because now; she has a hot new topic to discuss with the other maids who in turn feed it to their respective employers. So it’s no surprise to my mother when a day later Bindu aunty from Block B barges in demanding to taste the soft idlies. My mother just laughs and asks her how she knew. Oh amma!
‘What do you mean cancel? I can’t. Those kids have their exams in a months’ time and why are you taking out all my sarees Ammaaa! ‘I scream.