Ija pounced on me like a tigress. Holding me by the ear she threw me to the ground. “I am going to teach you a lesson. Getting too bold as you grow…” she said, with two kicks on my back. Kaka was ecstatic. “Make sure you beat him properly,” he said.
Ija dragged me out of the house as if I were a dead mouse and shoved me into the bichchoo bushes. “No, Ija, nooo…”
The last strand of affection snapped then.
The thorns of the bichchoo bush still pricked me and tears welled up in my eyes as I sat on the wall at half-time — seeing blurred images of children playing. My elbows were grazed, my hair was full of mud. I had bathed that day, but there was no fragrance about me.
I felt like crying loudly. I wanted to get up and go. Leave the place for good. Go where Pinti lived. Where people were different. Where there was no hatred, no senseless oppression.
I made up my mind to seize the first opportunity to run off to the kasba. I would catch a bus from there for some distant place. And never return. Never.
The idea took root over time. I picked out the clothes I would carry with me, and a bag for them. I stashed away some walnuts and found out where to get the money. All I needed was an opportunity.
Then it happened. I was taking a bath. I always bathed, even if it was freezing. I did not realise that Kaka was waiting in ambush. As soon as I put the Sabun away he pounced on me like a cat. I was trapped. Kaka’s hand went out to grab the Sabun. He would have picked it up but it slipped and fell. I swung the heavy bronze lota at him with all my might.
A muted cry escaped from Kaka’s lips as he slowly sank to the ground, his hands clutching his head. By then I had retrieved the Sabun and was ready with my lota. But Kaka did not move. My legs started to tremble. “Kaka, Kaka,” I shouted as I tried to shake him.
Continued next week
Excerpted from Lukose’s Church & Other Stories
Illustrations: Suman Choudhury