Where Life Started to Get F**k*d Up
I am more than sure that the first time I realized that things were changing was when Deta threatened to beat me if he did find something I swore wasn’t in my closet. I must have been a little older than five, ‘cause I blamed Dad’s changed countenance on the existence of my newly-arrived baby sister. He didn’t find it anyway, so I didn’t get beaten- but this isn’t what I remember. I just revisit the inner shock at hearing Dad’s “Jodi iate pau”, he said, “maar khaba kintu.” (“If I get it her, you will be beaten”)But things were changing, I just didn’t perceive it then, things are always changing. Only when I saw that I myself was changing, did I perceive others had always been changing too.
Somehow, when the baby was being expected, I convinced myself that she would grow up to be exactly my age in less than two years and be the assistant I always needed in playing House. And that she’d have Barbie Golden hair. She fulfilled neither of her obligations to my deepest indignation. She was who she was, crying and cribbing and vomiting and pooping as she pleased. And everyone adored her.
My upbringing taught me it was for the slummers to feel bad things like jealousy and hatred, so I never accept that those were my feelings for her- but I certainly didn’t adore an ugly puke-smelling dumb baby who couldn’t play House. I played by myself, screaming off trespassers who offered to help me build the complicated kitchen.
The only thing I actually was satisfied in with her was the naming- Patistha, but she’d be called Mickey at home, at my suggestion. ‘Patistha’ too had my support, it was an uncommon name (though not uniquely new), just like mine…Maybe more so, I’ve met other Stutis, but never any other Patistha. Also, the name, as I explained six years later to her, was a combination of the two word ‘Potty’ and ‘sthan’ (place) and that her name basically meant a latrine. And then she went crying to Maa, who told her that her name actually meant ‘clever’. And also that if I ever tortured her again, I’d be beaten. Though the threat didn’t make me love her, I learnt the art of separating thoughts and actions.
But blaming all of my childhood hurts on my sister are parents would be, of course, wrong. They did what they could, but with two nagging kids and two nagging parents, and their two nagging jobs, and other nagging worries like relatives, the sensex, taxes and the tacit inter-neighbor competition… I learnt to feel sorry for my parents.