Monday, April 04, 2011

[ Memories of my daughter.]

I had taken a creative writing class where the last week's assignment was non-fiction and we were supposed to in as vivid detail as possible capture some local, historical newsworthy event. So I wrote about when we were in Quilon and driving thru mill workers had a stone get thrown on the car. Thought it was exciting enuff to write abt.

Some edits are required, but no time....God, give me patience...BUT HURRY!
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It was yet another strike by the union members. Hundreds of textile mill workers were protesting against a decree, which withheld a part of their wage that had already been paid to them in the form of advances –over and above their yearly bonuses. In Kerala – a state in Southern India – where the Communist party is always in power, such strikes are a common occurrence and always garner media attention. In fact, on many occasions, I had noticed these strikes from a safe distance while playing in the balcony that overlooked a huge courtyard, where at the farthest end, adjacent to the main office, the workers usually gathered and voiced their protests. This morning, however, was different. The strike had begun very early and I had to be dropped off to school. To reach the school, one had to travel on a well-paved road that wrapped around a huge courtyard and then ran off for about half a mile till it reached a massive iron gate. Beyond the gate and the walls that enclosed the textile mills and the General Manager’s residence, was the main road. I would not call it a highway, as it would denote something orderly and methodical. On this street or main road, as it is called in India, lorries, rickshaws, ox carts, street peddlers, who often cruised it, ensured it was noisy and busy from morning till night. On entering the main road one proceeded to make an immediate right only to face another huge gate, which was the entrance to St. Paul’s High School. Though the distance from the mills to the school was nothing more than a mile, I was still driven to school every day, since being the General Manager’s daughter came with its privileges.

So, on this particular day, owing to the strike, I was to be accompanied my dad, mom, the math tuition teacher, Miss Millu, and the driver who had the unfortunate job of driving the group safely and securely, through the throngs on angry men. My dad and mom were in the backseat and I was ensconced between them. I was in my usual white uniform, my hair in side-ponytails – each held together by a white ribbon. Miss Millu was in the front seat next to the driver. The tension was palpable in the car that day. What was a routine and dull exercise of driving from within the walls of the compound for a mile outside where the school lay was now tinged with delightful possibilities and excitement for me. My parents were normally concerned, but not overtly worried. Miss Millu, however, was something else. She clutched her bag and the sides of the car and as frail as she was, though always attired in a matronly stiff cotton sari, she looked like she had seen death hanging from the edge of a cliff. As the car drove towards the crowd, I could see some familiar faces. All of them were raising their fists up and down and crying slogans of justice in MalMalayalamthe local language. By now the car was in the midst of the mob and from the back seat, I could see poor Miss Millu completely overcome with fear, cowering in the front seat. The driver assured her that there was no cause for concern and my father was just wondering the soundness of his decision to install Miss Millu in the front seat, when I saw a large jagged object the size of a fist come flying out of the crowd and land straight on the windshield directly in front of Miss Millu, who screamed so loudly that the driver gasped just as loudly, and no one paid attention to the mob or heard their cries for a few seconds. The only other sound that I paid attention to at that moment was the glass shattering and the beat of my heart.
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Best,
Dishaa

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