Ruksana the beauty"This story will appeal to people who feel strongly about child labour, gender equality and pure love. It is an extract from the memoirs of a 9 year old boy who lived in a small town called Marthandam in kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu, India."
My name is Jay and I am 9 years old. I study in the 4th standard at the Good Shepherd Matriculation Higher secondary School in Marthandam. I am a very good boy and a good student and everybody knows it. I do not study very hard, but I hate getting beatings and other punishment at school. I like reading, listening to music, drawing, painting- poster colour, making houses with cardboard, riding my bicycle, Atlas Rambler-It has seat large enough for me and my brother. I also like to play with my old toy cars although I do not tell this to my friends because they laugh at me for being childish.
When I grow up I want to become a driver and drive fast, very fast, super fast. I want to have many cars, bikes, vans and buses. I will have taxi stand also. I will be like appa when I grow up. People call my appa, ‘periya saar’ (Big Boss) and all people in his office are scared of him.
We don’t have TV at home because I am scared of watching it. We had a Solidaire colour TV and I used to get scared when I saw fight scenes and snakes and car accidents. Appa then sold it. Now I am a big boy and am not scared of those things now.
I do not like food other than snacks. I hate breakfast the most. I eat a lot in marriage parties, restaurants and other houses. My amma hates me when I do that. I like banana chips and mixture from Lakshmi Vilas bakery. I also like lacto King toffee. That is my favourite and I like it more than the fivestar. It is thirty paisa and I always go for a shop in the Vetuvenni junction to buy it. My amma always buys four of them for 1 rupee twenty paisa. Amma says not to buy 5 paisa sweets from other local shops as they have no cover and can cause cholera. I always wished I had the whole packet of lacto king, 100 of them for myself. That should be great.
We live in a big house but my friend Jobin has a bigger house. Our house looks beautiful. We have many neighbours and all of them like us. Recently a joint family full of Muslims have come to live in the big tiled house next to ours. There are many children, at least 6 belonging to three uncles and aunties. There are some babies also and the big children study in my school. I know them as Ismail, Jaffer, Thahira, Murshida and Shaheena. They are very fair in complexion as they are Muslims.
There is another girl in the house. Her name is Ruksana. She does not come to school. Jaffer says Ruksana is poor and is his servant. His servant is my most favourite member in his family. I like Ruksana.
Ruksana is strong and brave girl. She goes to a local shop down the road to buy bananas for Jaffer in the morning all alone. She also goes to buy milk. She always wears a pavadai and chattai (Skirt and shirt). She takes care of the babies and carries them around. She does not smile. I have not heard her sound yet. She is always in the family but does not go out in the car with them. She does not go to school. I want to talk and play with her but I cannot because she is poor and is a servant. I cannot talk to her because she is Ruksana. I like Ruksana. I wish she was my friend.
I like to read. I like to read story books, comics, Reader’s Digest, newspaper –Indian Express and Dinamalar and weekly magazines. I also like seeing pictures in Hotelier and Caterer. This magazine shows very costly hotels from foreign countries. I don’t understand everything that I read but I still read. Off late I have started reading newspapers as I have finished all the books in our library at home. I have read from Fairy tales, fables, classics, Tamil poetry and interior decoration. Dad is not buying new books. So, I am reading Tamil and English newspaper and the associated magazines.
I do not understand many articles but I still read as I didn’t have anything to do in the weekend. I noticed the word ‘Kaadhal’ (love) in many articles and asked my amma what it meant. She told me not to ask such questions again but I asked again as this word was found everywhere in the magazines. She told me that Kaadhal means love and that it is a bad thing to do. I said okay and thought to myself not to do love.
I also came across another word ‘sex’ in many articles. I asked my amma what it meant. She went into the kitchen saying that she had work. My appa stopped buying Indian Express next week and he said he does not have money to buy it.
I also like reading comics and ‘Mayawi’ (Phantom) is my favourite. I know Mayawi is strong but I am sure my appa is stronger than him. I will now tell you a secret. I don’t know why but I sometimes like to see Mayawi’s wife Diana. I sometimes keep seeing her picture where she was wearing a swimsuit. It made me feel good.
I kept thinking about love. I wonder why it is wrong to do love. I then think about Ruksana. I did not know if what I did with Ruksana is love. I didn’t want to ask anyone.
To be continued