Monday, February 22, 2016

Indelible Scars ....

Evenings were busy as always till Appa arrived. Little Kannan has his own ways of spending time, at times it would be carving a writing chalk, writing or sometimes painting. Kitchen used to be the bustle of activities where Amma was preparing the evening snacks and dinner. That was the time Pachai, Kannan's elder sister would always be with Amma sharing her day. That evening Kannan was busy with his work in his room when Akka was sharing the day with Amma. From everything that happened since she left in the morning. Kannan heard Akka cry to Amma and that caught his attention. He slowly walked towards the kitchen door without making much noise. He stood there at the door listening to them without being seen. 

"And she was mocking me and asked me what the mark was in my hand ..." Akka was talking to Amma with tears rolling down her cheeks and pointing at the red scratch mark in her right hand. 

"Its ok" said Amma... calmly dropping the next puri into the hot oil

The sizzle of the dough in oil was more silent than the sobs of Akka. Kannan was scared what might happen next as the marks on akkas hands were the result of the fight that happened the previous evening. It was a silly fight over mixing up the books on her table, tearing a piece of her notebook for paper and those are things which she would never like. Fights were usual between Kannan and Akka and he was equipped with nails to fight the age of his elder sister. The nails had left a scratch on the white pale skin of akka, which was the topic of discussion in the kitchen.

"Will Amma scold me or would it reach Appa" Kannan thought to himself, and continued to listen to the discussion inside the kitchen.

"But Amma ... I did not tell her that Kannan and me had a fight..." Akka continued with tears rolling down in cascade..." I told her that the pet cat had scratched me while I tried to lift him"

"Don’t worry ... Amma said calmly, he is a small boy... you are elder to him and you should take care of him. You go wash your face and study ... go dear" 

Kannan felt choked in his throat. 

"What have I done...? I shouldn't have" Kannan thought.

He slowly walked away to his room sad. And sat there with his books and crafts around him. Nothing seemed to excite him as the grief was overwhelming that he was wrong and put her sister to such a situation. It was the realization that his actions put his beloved sister to shame and insult that made him more withdrawn. It was nothing big, but for the small mind to fathom the lightness of the situation, it was really difficult. He did not get out of his room for coffee that evening. The evening was silent without the usual fights or pranks. 

"Kanna..." he heard his Akkas sweet voice "Come for dinner... quick"

There was love and affection in her voice. She seemed to have forgotten the incident after the discussion with Amma. A silent dinner, the night’s sleep and the morning sun changed the little Kannan for sure. He was determined not to physically hurt his sister anymore.

Years passed and the incident was just a lost note in the huge library of memories they shared. Kannan was on an official trip to the US. He finished his meetings and reached the Children's Hospital of Pittsburg, UPMC. The busy sidewalks and the parking were as stereo typed as any other busy city.  He closely looked at the boards which read "Main Entrance, Mid Campus Garrage, Penn Garrage, Research Centre and a few others. He walked through the sliding glass doors of the main entrance. The air had the clean and sterile scent of medicines and disinfectants. He went to the reception and asked for Dr. Pachanayaki. He was meeting her after many years.

"The third room on the right" said the old staff on the reception who was busy attending to a whole lot of patients at the same time directing them to the respective doctors.

Each step towards the room, Kannan was reminded of the discussion Akka had with Amma in the kitchen. He saw the board at a distance. The years of studies and work, he was proud of his Akka. She has lived all her life spent in studies and more studies alone. He remembered the days when he used to drop her to the college on his bike. The time they spent singing while the power went off. The small pleasures and times of togetherness and the silly fights they had.

"Dr. Pachanayaki A, MD - Paedeatric Endocrinologist"

And it seemed to move farther as he walked closer. He saw a familiar face walk out of the room... the spectacles and the doctor’s coat, the steth in her hand and the same sweet smile. For a moment he saw the sister in her teens with the two braids of long hair and in her school uniform standing next to amma in the kitchen. The incident which changed him. The silly fight and the scar. The images of the discussion in the kitchen flashed his mind again and again.

"Ah... Kanna... how was your day, you said you would be coming home ..." Akka said in her same sweet voice.

Time seemed to have made her voice more mature. He stood there smiling and not saying anything. 

"Oh well... it was hectic, couldn’t make it" he said with his much earned life's maturity.

Though they rarely talked over the phone owing to the mundane work and life they had, the talk seemed to start from where they had left years back before her marriage and relocation to the US. Pachai looked at his brother. He has grown so much. Looks much older. She thought to herself.

They walked to the cafe nearby while talking about many things that they had missed due to busy schedules and took the coffee to the typical round table with cozy couches around it. They sat down and sipped the coffee. She removed the long sleeved coat and put it carelessly on the back rest of the seat and placed the steth on the table. The red knitwear and the jeans never made her look elder to Kannan. She pushed the sleeve of her sweatshirt and sat down. Kannan looked at the pale white right hand of his Akka and saw no marks there... but his heart still had the scars left by the small scuffle between the little brother and her sister. He never discussed the hurt and kept it to himself. 

He was calm outwardly with his heavy heart still telling him "I shouldn’t have hurt her. She is my only sister. Akka might have forgotten it by now. So silly of me" Kannan thought to himself. 

Someday the scar in the mind would be gone too. The bond was still there between them shared with a smile. The kid brother and sister still fight in dreams but love each other as long as time stands. In their hearts they are still the same... the two braids with the white ribbon with the school uniform, the red shorts and the loose T shirt. Kannan and Pachai will be kids forever in the beautiful minds with no scars in the love they shared for each other.

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