An Excerpt from the ENVY Chapter of Vices of Eden
In the twenty years that John was in Abu Dhabi, besides acquiring lands, a large two-storey house with a garden in the heart of Cochin, a partnership in a coffee plantation and a cupboard full of gold jewellery and coins, Rosa had transformed herself from a housewife to an agony aunt. People sought her advice, assuming she’d had a hand in her husband’s growing fortunes and flourishing career abroad, by not only sacrificing her marital bliss, but also by dispensing invaluable career advice to him.
In her teens, Aldora watched her mother with revulsion. Within no time, Rosa became Mother Rosa, much to Aldora’s embarrassment. She cringed when Rosa joined the Leftist party of their locality and went for political meetings and protests. Daily, when Aldora returned home from school, there was Rosa acting as a self-appointed counsellor for people sending their children to The Gulf. Rosa’s generous dispersion of precious insights about life in The Gulf was nearly always accompanied by an offset printed Rule Book in Malayalam and English, something she had put together herself.
The Leftist comrades sent a steady stream of people, ignoring the general ‘days of the week’ rule. Even on Sundays they appeared, as if visiting a place of worship. Besides the strangers, Angel Villa was also filled with ambitious, distant, cousins and impoverished aunts, greedy uncles and unmarried nieces, and harried friends of unknown neighbours. Aldora resigned herself to the incessant siege. She consoled herself thinking Rosa had found a new hobby and would have less time to badger her about school work and routine.
On Easter Day, amidst the bonhomie of Rosa’s elaborate lunch feast attended by a hundred people including party workers, Aldora’s perception of her mother’s love altered irreversibly, forever.
Peter, Rosa’s third cousin, twice removed, a young man of twenty-four, was visiting them. His imminent departure for Abu Dhabi to join the electronics company where John worked was being celebrated alongside Easter. In the din of chattering voices and hearty laughter, gossip and serious discussions, Aldora slipped away, desperate to get away from the crowd. At thirteen, she had begun to love her own company much more than others’. Her mind was preoccupied with the music tapes she wanted to buy. She darted a look at Rosa who was sitting like a queen amidst adoring subjects, regaling stories of her youth.
Aldora’s eye twitched. An irrational sense of foreboding clutched her heart. She clamped a hand quickly over her eye, and without thinking, escaped into the sanctuary of her mother’s bedroom. A strong scent of jasmine and lavender assaulted her. Aldora walked to the bureau on which she found an array of perfume bottles, part of the annual gifts from Achan and a delicate, purple, silk money pouch. Her heart beat rapidly as she reached for it, felt the cream beads adorning its surface with her forefinger and unzipped it slowly. Inside were several hundreds of rupees in bills of hundred and a few coins. She gripped the purse tightly into one hand and left the room. Within seconds, she reached her bedroom on the second level, breathless with guilt and
When Peter accosted her, Aldora was taking out a couple of hundreds from Rosa’s pouch. She was standing with her back to the door, unaware of Peter. She didn’t know he had walked in and shut the door behind. He advanced towards her stealthily, stood behind her and watched her pilfer. Suddenly, Aldora heard a loud, clucking sound. Before she could react, Peter’s hands grabbed her breasts from behind; he pulled her back, slamming her body into his. He crooned softly into her ear, bad Dora, as she struggled with shock and fear. Aldora dropped the pouch and the money, and tried to free herself from Peter’s grip. She barely managed to extricate herself, when Peter rounded her, grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her down on the bed.
Aldora screamed. ‘Amma!’
Peter clamped a hand over her mouth and with the other, ripped off the buttons of her blouse. She scrambled to cover herself, but Peter was quicker. Within seconds, Aldora was buck naked, quivering and sobbing aloud. He towered over her with a gleam of satisfaction in his eyes. Quickly, he unzipped his jeans and stripped off his teeshirt. Aldora watched wide-eyed, her panic solidified and lodged like a block of stone in her throat. She was unable to make another sound as he forced her legs apart and entered her, his hand clamping down her mouth.
(An Excerpt from the ENVY Chapter of Vices of Eden)