Tripin 2017 - 2018 - page 83

‘Call me sudu duwa, like you normally do,’ I say.
Technically ‘sudu duwa’ means white daughter, but I am
not all that fair. Maybe it is what they wanted of me.
Maybe, since they think it is a good thing to not be dark,
my father called me that as a term of affection.
‘Push, duwa,’ he says. ‘Don’t waste the contractions.’
As I scream, my mother pokes her head through the
door. ‘Keep it down.’
I push and push until I cannot open my eyes but
when I do, you are in the eighty-year-old nurse’s arms.
Cleaned, but not clean. My mother nowhere to be seen.
My father’s spotless raincoat, boots and goggles strewn
on the red cement floor.
The fourteen-year-old maid has tears in her eyes. She
touches my forehead and it feels nice.
Now you are on my chest. Feeding.
My sudu putha.
It doesn’t feel real because it is so familiar. So like I
knew it would be, for some reason.
This is love.
You have been assigned a fake surname on your birth
certificate, but I am allowed to give you a first name.
I am not sure if this is the one act of compassion my
mother could muster, or if she could not be bothered to
research the numerology herself.
I name you Sidhara.
In numerology the name has the birth path 6 and its
meaning is connected to self-confidence and excellence.
Your life purpose will be to reconcile your ideals with
reality, and to accept the world as it is. As if you ever
had a choice.
My father’s always been too busy being pampered by
younger nurses to notice babies. He delivers them like
he would a package for DHL. But my mother? I want
her to see you, perhaps then she will change her mind.
I know she cannot show affection. I know she hates to
touch or hold or kiss. But she loves me. She loves you.
She has a heart.
More importantly to her, she has fair skin, a Kandyan
name, money, marriage to a doctor, kids. She has respect
and she creates fear for people who have none of these
things. No way could she have a seventeen-year-old
unmarried daughter with a baby. No way could that
baby be given a Kandyan name.
It doesn’t make a difference that I was raped. It is still
my shame. Still the family’s shame.
We keep you for two months. Enough time for me to
breastfeed. Enough time, my mother says, for me to get
back into shape so I can be seen again. So I can get ready
for my official return from the UK where she claims I
have been when I was actually hiding my bump.
A Buddhist monk arrives by trishaw. He has no
creases in his robes and I wonder how a man living a
simple life irons his clothes. That is a distraction. Me
conning myself. I know why he is here.
I scream and say, ‘If they take him, I will tell the
whole of Colombo the truth. I will tell them I had a
baby and you gave him away. I will tell them who the
father is.’
And I feel the cold edge of a kitchen knife to my
throat. My own mother with a blade to my neck, her
hand shaking with rage, spit dribbling from her mouth.
‘You will do no such thing.’
She smiles to remind me that I do not have the
power to upset her. She drops the knife to the floor.
That damn knife I hate, its rusted blade ten years past
its life expectancy. The knife I was fined for breaking
even though it cost twenty-eight rupees new and fifty-six
rupees to mend.
Upal and Tharanga drag me away. They need their
jobs. I am locked in the upstairs bathroom, standing on
the faded green bidet and looking through the gaps in
the window frame where the wood has warped. I see
the fourteen-year-old maid breaking down on the front
lawn. Crying for me. Crying for herself. I don’t even
know her name.
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