Chapter 19 - Old Memories

The Prime Minister of Tawa – 19

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Veseem and Vanamola had come down to play with Heather. Urushambo dropped them off in his car and went off, promising to return in a couple of hours. They played on the swing for a while, each of them taking turns on it. When they grew tired of it, Vanamola suggested that they play House. Veseem was not too keen on playing House and did not really enter into the spirit of things. It was not really his fault. Vanamola decided that she would be the father, Heather the mother and Veseem the baby. However, Veseem was not used to obeying orders from Vanamola or anyone else of Vanamola’s age. And so, when it was bedtime for the baby and Heather and Vanamola tried to put the baby to sleep, the baby insisted on staying awake. When the father went off to the market to buy groceries for the mother to cook, the baby insisted on accompanying the father.

Thankfully, the housekeeper called them inside to have some milk and cakes and matters did not end in a serious quarrel. But when they went back to their game, things became tense once more. Heather felt that it would be easier for Veseem to be a young boy rather than a baby. Veseem got promoted to childhood and he happily went off to school and sat in a corner and then came home from school after a few minutes.

‘Heather, where are you?’ Mash called as soon as he got home. He had stayed on at the TFP office until the polling stations closed. Polling had been peaceful except for an incident in one of the northern districts where a few drunken TFP activists threw stones at a busload of PDA supporters who had come to vote. PDA activists had come to the defence of their supporters and one TFP activist sustained a stab injury. A few TFP and PDA activists had been arrested.

Mash walked over to the bungalow’s backyard where the children were playing. Heather ran up to her father. ‘We are playing House,’ she told her father before he could ask.

‘Go on then. But come inside the house when it gets dark.’ It was almost half-past six in the evening and the sun would set soon.

Mash went into the house. ‘Judy!’ he called. ‘Where’s Judy?’ he asked the housekeeper.  He found Judy in the bedroom painting her nails. She looked at Mash’s face and realised that something was wrong.

‘What’s the matter Mash?’

‘Nothing. Nothing at all.’

‘Something is wrong.’

‘We’ll have to move out of here soon, you know. To the Residency.’

‘Oh! You’ve been thinking of that again. We knew that didn’t we, when we came here?’

‘Yeah, but it’s still something I have to come to terms with.’

‘Hmmm. And I thought you were worried about the pain of shifting house.’ Judy smiled and waited for Mash to laugh at her joke. She still had to come to terms with the fact that there were servants to do every tiny chore for her, and that they would do them in a very imperfect and sloppy manner.

Mash remained silent, a frown on his face.

‘Honey, I know that you’ve been thinking about this. You woke me up yesterday night as well.’

‘I’m sorry,’ Mash mumbled.

‘No, you don’t have to be sorry. You’ve been having your nightmare a lot more frequently after we came here. What would you rather do? Go back to Watford? We could, you know.’

‘No. No way. I can handle this.’

‘Of course, honey, you can handle this. You just tell yourself that you are strong enough to live with the memory of what happened.’

You’ll never fully understand. That’s the house I grew up in. That’s where my Dad lived. That’s where he was when the soldiers surrounded him and took him off to jail. And he never returned. I don’t really want to go there, you know.’

‘Oh darling! I do understand. But why don’t you think of it as a victory for your Dad? That evil General stole what was rightfully yours. Your Dad’s and yours. And now you are getting it all back. All this is your legacy. The people want you here. That’s why they are voting for you. They would rather have you, Seleem Zoloda’s son, than anyone else.’

‘I know. I know.’

‘It’s all work out my sweet.’ Judy put her arms around Mash and held him as if he were a little boy.

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More by :  Vinod Joseph

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