11 DecemberPosted: October 18, 2010
The house smells of freshly baked chocolate walnut cake. Ogre beams at the door.
Me: “Etcetra is home early today?”
Ogre nods, “Go freshen up. I’ll make some tea. Ask Etcetra to come out when you do.”
For a moment, I think: “I come home early every day. Ogre never makes cake for me.”
But then, I laugh. When I was taken in to see Etcetra in the hospital where she was born, an ugly, red, screwed up little thing, I felt a jumble of things all at once:
1. I wanted to touch her puckered cheek.
2. I wanted to stroke the thin wisps of hair on her almost bald forehead.
3. I wanted to pinch her arm and make her cry.
Ever since then, being jealous of Etcetra is a part of who I am. When she came home from the hospital, for the first few years, I didn’t really want her to disappear, but I wished she would go away for at least a few days, a few hours, so that I would get The Beautiful One to myself for some time. But Etcetra never went away. She was always there. Even when The Beautiful One went away, Etcetra remained.
And yet, when she was 13 and began to go out more and more with her friends, not hang around me all the time, I began to miss her when she was not there.
But in the last 2 years, she has hardly been around at all. Out of the house first thing in the morning, comes home just in time for dinner because Ogre insists. Rarely speaks to Ogre without fighting, rarely speaks to me at all.
Etcetra is in her Burrow. One night, The Beautiful One was reading a story to me. Etcetra disappeared under her blue mulmul quilt (made from The Beautiful One’s softest, oldest saris).
The Beautiful One laughed: “Why have you burrowed yourself, you rabbit?”
Etcetra hardly ever cries, but when she is unhappy, she disappears under her quilt, and the only thing that can bring her out before she wants to, is a good, healthy dose of tickling. Of course, you can tickle Etcetra only at the risk of getting a good, healthy dose of kicking from her.
Which I don’t fancy right now. So,
Me: “Ogre’s made cake for you. Your favourite.”
Which means: “I don’t care. Leave me alone.”
So I do. Ogre and I sit down to yet another silent dinner without Etcetra. Ogre smiles nervously and says as if to placate me in lieu of Etcetra, “I’ll get some vanilla ice cream. She loves chocolate cake with ice cream. She’ll have it after dinner.”
Which means: “I don’t care. Leave me alone. I don’t even like chocolate cake. And I don’t like vanilla ice cream.”
Sometimes, I forget to laugh at myself when I feel jealous of Etcetra. Sometimes, I am just miserable.