Saturday, March 22, 2008
She watches him swab the floor of the house. Tall, slender and long limbed he might have been a ballet dancer in another life. Or, from the way he scuttles across the floor with his rag and bucket of soap water - a spider. He calls her papa. She is thirty and has two children. But then her mother 'is the only Amma of the house'. She has nightmares that she is fifty and still called papa, a member of the coterie of women with silly names – Birdie Athai, Papa Chitti, Hyma Mami. (the last name always making her blush). She has tried to get him to call her Akka. But he will not. ‘No, you will always be papa to me’ he says with an almost toothless smile and cackle. Sitting on the divan she watches him go by with his grey rag and imagines his spidery limbs fractured beneath her slippered foot.