Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chapter 11 - Back To Square One

“Congratulations, Mr and Mrs Michael Kuttiparambil. Magnificently manipulated.” She had walked into her parents’ room after her father came home from the office.

“What are you talking about, Shikha”, asked her mother.

“Don’t worry, my dear parents”, said Shikha in a deadly calm voice that scared Michael and Rani. “Siddharth has called it off. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with rotten people like you and your family”

Her parents said nothing.

“And you know something? I too don’t want to have anything to do with you or your God forsaken family. I’ll suffer you because you raised me. I’ll remember my duties as the only daughter of selfish parents who care more for their image than their daughter’s happiness. But don’t ever expect me to come with you visiting family and relatives. Don’t ever expect me to play the charming hostess when your snobbish relatives come here. It’s over. My honeymoon with Kuttiparambil family is over. I’ve had enough of this suriani and aristocracy bullshit”. Shikha was surprised at her own eloquence, but the words were spontaneous. She had to get them out.

She didn’t bring up the issue after that. She hardly spoke to her parents during the second year of her masters. Rani’s efforts to break the ice met with icy silence. Michael’s efforts at conversation were met with monosyllabic replies.

When Georgekutty, papa’s favourite nephew and Shikha’s cousin from both her parents’ sides, came to Chennai before he left for the USA to join the company which had recruited him for a fancy salary, she refused to speak with him or sit at the dining table during dinner. Rani pleaded with her. “No mama, I meant what I said. I want to have nothing to do with our aristocratic family”, she said, her voice heavy with sarcasm. “ I know that Georgekutty organized the intimidation drama. He and his noble, upper class cousins were all there when that poor man was summoned to appear before grand father Kuttiparambil. And I thought Georgekutty was a gentleman”, she said with a disgusted laugh. “I would have expected this twenty first century youngster to support me instead of behaving like an outlandish suriani aristocrat. Sick guy”.

Rani did not miss the sneer whenever Shikha uttered the word aristocrat. “Not all people think like you, Shikha”.

“Oh yes, I agree with you there”, said Shikha with vehemence.

The iron control under which Rani had been keeping herself snapped for a moment and she asked sharply, “Hey, young lady, who do you think you are? Remember we have lived several decades more than you. Credit us with the wisdom of that atleast”

“And what sort of existence is it that you had more than me? Cocooned in the suriani catholic sense of superiority and high moral grounds! You people feel that just because you give your ten percent to the church and charity, you have acquired 10 cents of land up there in heaven, which gives you the license to flout every other commandment.” Shikha got a malicious pleasure giving vent to her thoughts which she had been turning over and over in her mind ever since Siddharth dropped the bombshell that shattered her dreams and life. “There is no greater sin than arrogance, mama, and arrogance was what the Kuttiparambans showed when they summoned a man to the house and insulted him just because he was born poor. Tell me mama, what did you do or papa or that Kuttiparambil grand old man do to be born rich? Tell me! Get down on your knees and thank the almighty for the blessings he has given you instead of using them as muscles to beat up the less fortunate.”

Rani wished she had not started this argument. Shikha’s voice was rising and Rani was afraid Georgekutty would hear through the closed door. But Shikha was unstoppable.

“Break free from that suriani cocoon, you and papa, and find out for yourself that world outside is not what you think it is”.

Rani’s eyes filled with tears. Her daughter seemed to have transformed into someone she did not recognize anymore. Seeing her mother’s distress, Shikha flung the book she had in her hand across the room and slammed herself into the chair.

Georgekutty did not even try to say goodbye to her before he left.

Good, thought Shikha. The bloody blood bond. I can do without it.