3 February

Etcetra is flinging her clothes around, in a choreographed fit of hysteria. She knows of course that I will pick them all up later, fold them, and put them away into the right shelves in her cupboard. I have given up even trying to think about why I do these things for her. And of course that entitles her to subject our room to her bouts of anger, as and when she pleases.

Dodo has announced this morning that he will leave sometime next week. Etcetra had smiled as he said it, as if she felt nothing but pride at his medical sojourn to the rural hinterlands. And Dodo had felt pleased at her support, and of course, a little put off by my own unenthusiastic response.

Of course, Etcetra who prides herself on being frank and fearless with Ogre and me, is always sweet and docile with Dodo. And of course he wonders why Ogre and I are always complaining about her temper. He thinks I get angry more than Etcetra does, as I had this morning.

Dodo: “Appi, your face seems to be getting permanently ‘scowly’. Why must you always make me feel guilty about leaving?”

I had shrugged.

Me: “As if that is going to stop you from going.”

Ogre: “Appi! What’s wrong with you? If you can’t stop him from going, then at least be gracious about it.”

Me: “Sure. Why not? Since everyone else is. OK, Dodo, I’m so..o glad you are going away.”

Dodo had laughed.

Dodo: “At least you’ve started showing some spirit, girl. I like it.”

I had scowled some more and walked away. Etcetra, still smiling, had followed me in. Soon after which the flinging-clothes-around-session began. I hug my knees on my bed, and watch her.

Me: “Why were you smiling so stupidly in front of Dodo, then? Why don’t you dare to tell him how wrong it is of him to keep going away like this? What’s the use of hiding in here, and taking out your anger in front of me?”

Etcetra: “Because it is not wrong of him to go. He is doing something great, Appi. And I don’t know why you refuse to see that.”

Me: “Then, why this tantrum?”
Etcetra: “Because … oh, you’ll never understand, Appi. You are so used to seeing everything in black-and-white. Just like the boring saris you wear at work.”

I ignore the fact that it is Family Sunday and walk out of the house. I wander around the street below our house for some time, desultorily, feeling quite lonely. Wanting it to be Monday. At least at Neem I know where and what I am.


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