She wished she wasn’t so nice. Why was she so nice? From where did this need to please arise from? Good girl. If you’re a good girl I’ll give you this chocolate. This new dress, this new jewellery set, a good name in the family. The last was the most useless of all things she had been offered in return for her goodness. She hated the way her head nodded involuntarily in agreement to every request, statement and command. Of course I’ll make bajjis for everyone. Yes, yes I agree, she shouldn’t be wearing such revealing clothes at her age. She was a cow she decided. A boom boom maadu that shook its gaily painted horns at one and all.
She envied the women in the mega serials she watched every evening. Not the stupid innocent daughter-in-laws, fat and well fed on curd rice and naiveté, draped in printed nylon saris and round bindis who got duped and tricked by everyone. Oh no. While others tsked and gasped at their machinations, she secretly cheered on the mother-in-laws, sister-in laws and mistresses. The villis. The vamps. She yearned to be more like them in their garish embroidered saris, matching jewellery sets, barely there blouses and bindis that spread across their foreheads like poisonous trees. Yes yes, poison your husband. Push your sister over the edge of the balcony. Steal that baby. She spent her afternoons formulating cutting, witty repartees that she would throw in the faces of those who mocked her. She had plotted ways of wreaking revenge on the Periamma who called her fat and the cousin who won over others with her charming ways and flouncy hair. Yes, today would be the day she broke free of her need to please. She would do as she liked. She would leave her hair open after 6 in the evening, not wear a petticoat beneath her nightie and insist on having onion sambhar next ammavasya. Yes, as soon as she finished her niece’s science project she would learn to say no.