Lost teas / November 2012 (Issue 19)


Nooh

by Anubha Yadav

This is my Anne Frank's diary. My name is Nooh. Ratna di thinks I don't know but I know.

I was taught at my school that Anne wrote her diary when she was thirteen. I am thirteen too. I have not read Anne's diary, so I don't know what she wrote. But we are a little same.

I am living in Ratna di's store. It is under the ground. This store also has a black iron grill in the front and has a small rectangle-window near the ceiling. Even the window has grills. I watch people's ankles, shoes and slippers on the road through the window. I have begun to recognise some of these people by their footwear—the pink sandals of the morning are always late for somewhere, the white torn sneaker of the afternoon is always angry with someone and the vegetable hawker wears sewn muddy plastic shoes.

The store has lots of cloth rolls. Big, big rolls. I sleep on the blue one, as I like flying kites. On Saturday, I slept on the white one, as it was my mom's birthday and white is her favourite colour.

Ratna di says that I should be careful during the day. My house is in front of the grill. I like to see it, but Ratna di starts crying if she sees me watching my house. So I sit behind the big cloth rolls the whole day. I sleep most of the time.

I wish I could draw this for you. I don't know if you can paint all this through your eyes.

At night when uncle goes to sleep, Ratna di comes down with food. I told Ratna di her store has fat rats. She said it will be "OK" in some time. Rats too make her cry. I miss ammi all the time, but when I have food, I want to cry badly; you would know why if you had tasted my ammi's chicken curry.

Ratna di is nice. She makes sweet vegetable curry a lot. I don't like it. She thinks I love it. I think she works in the kitchen the whole day, as her dupatta smells like Aini appa's dupatta, who also worked in our kitchen. I like that smell.

At night, I can come out of the cloth rolls to see my house. Our clothes are still there on the wall. Ammi's stones on the clothes are not there now, but the clothes have not flown away. Abu's white shirt, Aini appa's dupatta, my school knickers, Sami's school knickers. I like seeing them. Sometimes at night they make shapes. As if they have come alive and become ghosts. When a wind blows, Abu's shirt looks like an Ambassador car. Appa's dupatta becomes a flying carpet. My knickers and Sami's knickers together look like a black train. I can't talk about trains too. Ratna di does not like trains. They too make her cry. Her brother died in a train fire. I should sleep. It is morning.

(First published in Epic India on 20/10/2011)

 
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