If you’re wondering what Aniska is, then firstly, it’s not a what. It’s a where. Great. So now you’re wondering where Aniska is, right?
Well according to my oldest cousin brother, Dravid, it’s “a little island town blown off the coast of Mumbai”. His words, not mine. I honestly don’t know how a coast or even a main-land can blow off an island....Or maybe he meant the other kind of blown off-y’know? Like explode?
Ok, I have to stop. Y’all probably thinking this kid’s nuts and you’ll probably put the book down and never even try to read it ever again because I-OK,Vandita! Hold it right there! You really should stop.
That’s right. I just told you my name-It’s Vandita. And incase you were wondering, I’m an ten-year-old girl who has long curlyblack hair that comes till the end of my back. Amma puts it into two braids every day-two seriously oily braids. I have black eyes too. I’m proud to say that I have a a gorgeous tan which glows in the sun-which every pukka Indian family disapproves of- for what reason I don’t know! Amma and Appa don’t care though. I used to care before, but they helped me realise that people who judge you for what you look like and for the colour of your skin are soooore LOOOSERSSS! Those are my words, not theirs.
They said in a much less interesting way, but that’s actually kinda supposed to be India’s main philosophy- aham brahmasmi- it’s a Sanskrit phrase meaning ‘I am the spirit soul’. The philosophy says that we are not the body made of bones and flesh but the person inside who is far more valuable. The rest of my family don’t seem to get it though. It’s so annoying especially when Vishaka Athe keeps squeaking, “You’ll never get married if you have dark skin.”
Well, excuse your family genes for giving me my gorgeous dark skin. And besides, that was just mean. And do you know when she said that? I was freaking seven! Way to make a little kid feel bad!
Anyways, back to Aniska...Pretty up-beat in the modern standard. What did you expect? It’s close to Mumbai- that’s like the west of the east! Literally!
And I don’t care whether you were wondering about this or not because I need to get this fact in place to get on with the story and have you folks not listen to my bizarre thoughts all day- I’ve been stuck in this boring metallic junk that the driver calls a cab for the past four hours. My everywhere hurts and I need the toilet soooooo bad! I am squished up by my little cousin brother-Arush- who is squished up my Amma, who is squished up by Vishaka Athe.
Yup! You can only imagine what a joyful ride it was for me! I was actually being sarcastic back there, but actually, now, considering that all the old folks are asleep, it is actually quite enjoyable. I turn my head to Appa who’s snoring with his mouth wide open and his head hanging off his neck. I honestly fear that it will fall off one day. I smirk as I gently straightened his head so that it leanined on the back-rest. As I glanced at Athe, I found her in the same situation as Appa. I resisted the temptation to laugh and Nope! I was not going to fix that. This view was the next best thing to the view on my other side-the view of Aniska, fast-track.
“Like siblings?” Dravid laughed at his mother and uncle.
I shook my head with an annoyed smile. But then the word siblings caught up to me and my face went dark and I looked down trying not to even remember.
“I’m sorry.” he said hurriedly. He was probably beating himself up with a hot iron whip on the inside-typical Dravid-he’s such a goody two shoes! He always blamed himself when other people around him felt bad for their own stupid mistakes.
“It’s fine, Anna(older brother)” I’ll be fine. I squeezed out a smile to let him know I was okay.
It was a miracle that I wasn’t crying and sour, in the opinion of the oldies. After Subhadra left, the hole in my soul was gnawing me alive but I had enough warm sappy hugs. They weren’t comforting. I had managed to calm myself down, once I was alone, but I couldn’t be alone for long. My father always sent someone after me. He thought I needed the company. So I just shut up into monotone most of the time instead of trying to explain that I needed to be alone and be pegged as rude.
But the drive in the car and maybe the nice beach wind had made me forget about my monotone and I began to think about random things instead and become really bugged because of the cramped space.
“So, new place, new school, new friends...” Dravid started uncertainly.
“Yeah, sure.” I grunted, “What do you want me to do about it?”
He sighed as though I was a troubled kid and he was a counsellor.
“You know we’re here for you, right?” He said it more like a statement that a question.
“Mhmm.” I nodded before looking outside the window.
“Remember, how you used to say it would be cool to live here one day minus my mom.” he said, trying to lighten up my mood.
I smiled at that memory. It was the first time I had been to India and the first of the annoying four hour drives I would take from the Chatrapti Shivaji terminal to Aniska. When I arrived, I was thrilled and surprised at the lush green in India. Dravid’s Appa- Mathur Mama- had a little garden where he grew all of his favourite trees that became my favourites too. He taught me how to climb a tree and I adapted it to climbing fences and anything else. It was where I discovered the true me-a tomboy wild and crazy like my very own brain whose thoughts you were acquainted with in the paragraphs above.
And like my cousin had quoted, I fell in love with everything minus Vishaka Athe.
“Who knew it would really happen, right?” I offered trying to divert my mind.
“Weelll..., minus minus my mom.” he said before laughing.
“You can’t always have everything.” I shrugged, as I joined him.
But who knows, maybe my brother was right- A new place might be a new start....somewhere that could maybe be more quiet because no one knew me and known would ever know-especially about Subhadra....