“Thumbi… are you ready yet? They will be here any minute.” her mother’s anxiety could not be contained. From the moment the guy’s parents had confirmed the date of the ‘pennu kaanal’ or the girl seeing ceremony, she had not slept properly.
“Amma, are you going to call me Thumbi even when they are here?” the daughter taunted her mother for calling her a dragonfly. Her mother had loved those tiny creatures with shiny wings and used to call her daughter thumbi at home. Though Tamanna was her name in the official records, Thumbi too secretly loved the name her mother called her.
“Yes yes I will call you that only. If they don’t like anything about my baby, let them find a bride for their son from somewhere else. I won’t give my child to them.”
An uninvited drop of tear formed in Thumbi’s eyes and threatened to jump out any moment. She did not want to display any emotions that she hid very adeptly. Getting up, she asked her mother how she looked. Lata appraised her and was happy about everything. She knew her daughter was a good human being and she deserved the best. She was adamant about doing the best for her only child.
Lata had told Thumbi not to be afraid or be shy. “Be who you are dear.” that is what her mother had told her last night. This was what was different about Lata. All the other mothers she knew would ask their daughters to behave well and to be coy when talking to the boy who came to see them.
Thumbi got up to check herself in the mirror. She was happy with what she saw in there. A bit of tradition and many bits of modernity made up the young Tamanna and she prided herself in being so.
The noise of the tyres on the gravel announced that the visitors had finally arrived. As was the custom, the girl who would be ‘seen’ remained inside whilst her mother and Lata’s mother-in-law went out to receive them.
Her father and her grandfather had both passed away in a freak accident when the bus they were traveling in, felt into a ravine. The loss had been unbearable for the family and her grandmother was on the brink of depression. She showed abnormal behaviour and would be rude to Lata, her only daughter-in-law. Lata on the other hand, understood that she was still struggling to come to terms with the reality that she had lost all the male members of her family – her husband and her only son. “Granny needs love Thumbi. That’s all there is that she needs.” her mother had told her when Thumbi questioned her mother as to what had happened to her grandmother.
“Come in please…” Thumbi heard her mother’s voices float in to her room, carried by the strong winds that hinted at the impending rains. If there was one thing she did not like about her mother, it was that she was too humble; even in situations where she need not be, she would speak in a low kind voice. Thumbi fought with her mother for this very reason, she wanted her mother to show who was the authority in the situation, but she always got the same reason, “If you can be kind and get the work done, what is the need to be harsh?”
Her mother handed her the tray, asked her to take a deep breath and go serve the tea to everyone.
“How’s the tea? My child made it especially for you…” her granny did not believe in wasting any time in such matters and spoke directly to the boy. Thumbi almost opened her mouth to deny the statement, but was stopped in the nick of time by her mother who indicated with her eyes to let it be.
Just for the sake of her mother, she kept mum. Once they had all taken their tea cups from the tray she offered, Tamanna, as her mother introduced her to them, sat down next to her grandmother and looked at the guy.
She could not think of any reason why she should look down at her feet or draw patterns with her toes or wind and unwind the corner of her dupatta as they described in the movies. Instead, she looked straight at the guy, wondering what his thoughts might be, wondering if he was shy or if he would look at her…..
My friend Leo and I are writing on the same theme for the AtoZ2015. The word for the alphabet T that we've chosen is Tea.