The Dream Of A Three Year Old
21 January, 2013
Little Asna smiled a lot that day – 31st December 2012. Because her mother was with her all the time, carrying her in her frail arms but with love and care. She did not mind being a bit hungry and thirsty that day because Amma was with her. She saw many people, all of whom were smiling and laughing, trying to hold her and talking to her in languages new to her. But she understood that they all were loving people with kind hearts like her mother and Periyamma. What more would 3 year old Asna want in her life to smile?
As the day darkened, her Amma brought many friends home. She made her special masala tea with the aroma of ginger and cardamom. She had made the tasty and crisp Achappam the previous day. Though Asna’s teeth were not so strong, she tasted the still warm bits that Amma gave her first. She liked the way her mother carried her while she cooked in the kitchen, muttering to herself about how much condiments to add, sometimes ordering her sister Labika to clean onions or cut some ginger. Amma had also made the batter for making Paniyaram, the sweet and soft delicacy to be fried in oil with care. Asna knew it is a special day when her Amma or elder sister Labisha starts grinding not for idlis but paniyaram. Asna smiled throughout the evening as so many people came home and everyone stayed there and did not go away. Asna did not like anyone going away. Unlike her 4 year old brother who would cry each time someone left, Asna would stay quiet, her smile fading away. Her mother would ask her sisters Labika or Labisha to hold her.She liked to be carried around the village by her sister Labika who would tell her many things and show her trees and birds. Sometimes a dog would chase them or they would see the big rats. Sometimes they would watch the passing cobbler repair school bags or slippers. At times they would visit baby Ashwin’s house where Asna would play with him. On some days, they would run to the road with the coloured plastic pots to collect water from the trailer vehicle. Amma would have left the money or her brother Laron would give it to them – 5-6 pots of fresh water. Even little Asna knew that water is very precious in the village. At times she can hear the horn of the cycle which brings salt for sale. Her brother’s friend brings eggs for sale which Amma buys to hard boil and give them.Her sister dips it in salt and pepper before popping into her mouth. Asna laughs loud to see her face then. There is so much happening all around.
When friends came, her brother Lavin would swing from the window and shout Venda venda Anu ulai venda, Moodu moodu Anu ulai moodu. Little Asna would also gather all the strength in her tiny lungs and shout the same.It made her happy to see her mother laugh so much when she did that. Asna liked to make her mother happy. Sometimes at night she would wake up to hear her parents whisper about the Anu uali and what they would do if it started. They would talk about how close the house is to the anu ulai and whether it is safe to live there with the children. It made Asna scared to go away. Her little mind liked this sea shore village, the Church, the school and the houses where she lived. She liked the short walk to her elder sister’s house where 2 month old baby Udaya had started smiling and recognizing people. She loved it when her mother would carry her to the Samara pandal on some days when many people would gather and shout slogans and hear speeches. Asna knew that she had to be patient and not cry or fuss as her mother was very happy to be there. She liked the cool Pandal and sand where she would play and watch the pictures and people. It has been many days since her mother and all her friends have been going to the Pandal. Her mother’s elder sister Mary Periyamma sleeps in the Pandal every day.She takes her little grandson there too.Asna wished her mother would take her too at night to sleep there. But they sleep in the sand at the doorstep of their house. Now it gets cold in the mornings and many days she is woken up by her mother carrying her inside at dawn and covering her with a thick sheet. By the time she wakes up, her mother would have made breakfast and her sisters would be ready to go to school with bags packed. She likes the days when Labika decides not to go to school.Then she can play and walk around the Tsunami Colony where they stay.
On Pongal day there was a lot of dancing and walking. Little Asna did not like it so much because she woke up in an empty house.Her mother had left early to cook Pongal with other women in the Samara Pandal.But she came back in her bright new saree to take Asna and Lavin for the celebrations. The walk around the village with the bedecked bullock cart and Karakattom was fun inspite of the heat and dust. Whenever her mother wanted to dance, Asna would find herself in her sister Labisha’s hands. She watched with surprise her mother dancing and laughing like a young girl.Asna liked to see her mother happy and near her. Labisha and friends too danced with arms and legs swinging. She liked the warm and sweet Pongal. She heard the shouting that day too- Venda, venda Anu Ulai venda…On Dec 31st midnite, she along with her mother lighted candles and walked to the beach. How they all shouted for the Anu ulai to be stopped. Asna shouted too loudly, holding the frills of the new dress she got for her birthday. Yes, she wanted the Anu ulai to be stopped too. Because she knows that it made her mother and father unhappy and kept them from sleeping. She knew that her sisters Labisha,Labika and friends Ignesh, Shobana, Pinochio and many others have been traveling to many places and talking about this. Her aunts Mary, Leela and Malar had also gone far to tell the world that this anu ulai should not come to this place. She has heard her fisherman brother Laron talk to his friends about what might happen to the fishes. So little Asna too would shout loud and clear VENDA VENDA ANU ULAI VENDA. She would never cry if her mother goes away to Samara pandal because she is going to participate in meetings that would help stop the Anu ulai.
Anitha.S in conversation with Tamilarasu, mother of Asna, one of the youngest participants of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy resisting the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. 21.01.2013.
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