Inspiration: Roddy Doyle’s Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha
A candle was lit. The candle was exactly ten centimeters in length and the radius about half a centimeter. My mother had bought it from the grocery store in the Southern Avenue market. Pink ribbon wrapped around it. Tana had decorated the candle for his arts examination.
I had teased Tana for using a pink ribbon.
-Girl! Girl! Girl! I love pink. Girls love pink so I love pink. I am a girl.
Tana had started crying and made to run to tell ma. I had run after him and pulled his hair for ages till he promised not to tell.
-Ma what will you do with the candle?
Ma gave her goodnight smile. She gave the candle another look, picked it up and walked steadily towards the large window on the east wall of the master bedroom. Our house had windows on three of the four walls of each bedroom. Each bathroom had a huge window. When I asked ma why so many windows were needed, ma said they were for better ventilation. I do not know who designed the house or who built it, but I know that whoever it was, he or she was not aware of the cold draughts that come through the windows or through the cracks of shut windows. I hate bathing especially the ones ma gives us before we go to bed. The hot water from the geyser and the cold hissing wind seeping in through the window cracks, made me shiver and Tana chatter.
Tana is nine and I am ten. Once we lay down on our beds…Tana’s bed is across the room…about a meter from mine…ma kisses us goodnight while we lie cold under the blankets which take ages to warm. The baths kill us.
The sun never rises at least for a long time. We have clouds all the time. The windows drive in the rain. Me and Tana help ma keep the rooms dry. We run about screaming with the mops in our hands. Once I was at Yash’s place when it started raining and Yash’s elder brother opened the windows and let the rain come in. Yash said his brother was a bit thick.
-Thick! Thick! Thick!
But thankfully Yash’s ma and papa were not at home and the rain stopped coming in some while. But his elder brother did give him a tight smack on his face. He killed him. Yeah! I wanted to be like Yash’s brother.
It took us ages to dry the floors from the rains but there was usually a treat awaiting us after the chore. We were each given a five but I took one rupee from Tana to make it more fair. I was elder and I deserved more money. Ma didn’t understand this nor did papa. Tana never told ma about it or I would kick him hard and not let him play with my friends. I hated Tana. He was always crying, scraping his knees and getting all the kisses from ma. I was elder so I didn’t need or want ma’s kisses but I didn’t like it that he got so many of them.
This time, however, the problem was not the rains or the cold draught. It was a beehive. A beehive just outside the window on the east wall of ma’s and papa’s bedroom. Mas and papas always took the biggest rooms. Yash’s ma and papa also had the biggest room in their house. The beehive wasn’t very big but ma said it had potential. Tana wanted the beehive. They had learnt in school that bees give honey. I didn’t like honey but even I wanted the beehive. Beehive meant bees. I could trap these bees in bottles and sell them to Yash’s brother and torture them and burn them. But seeing the whole beehive burn would be fun too. I wish Yash’s brother could see me do something so cool. I bet he had never seen a whole beehive burn.
The beehive burnt for ages. It didn’t seem to house many bees. No bee came scampering out…the way we had seen in Tom and Jerry. I had thought ma would be attacked by the swarm of buzzing bees. The burnt beehive let out a lot of smoke and left the wall black. I prayed ma would tell me to paint the wall but she just wiped it clean with a mop.
Tana and I lingered longer in the front garden near the beehive window looking for some traces of a bee. We found one at last. Alive. Buzzing.
-Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
I took out my shoe and smashed the bee dead on the window pane.
-Don’t kill it.
But I had already smashed it. The fluids and juices out of his body made a pattern on the glass.
-I am going to tell ma.
-Tattler! Tattler! Tattler! Oooh I am a girl…I’ll tell my mammy.
He made as if to run. I knew he was crying.