Priya stretched her right hand to touch Saahil.
“Saahil“,she called him pulling his hair,”Saahil,calling bell;maid“.
He rolled over to the other side and snored.Priya patted him on his bum and got out of the bed.She yawned and tied her robe’s ribbon.When she opened the door,Akka stood there with a bag half-filled with vegetables. Akka’s forehead showed the daily frustration of waiting in front of the door.
“How many times have I told you to give me a spare key?“,Akka murmured and went to the kitchen.The noises of vessels falling into the sink released her irritation.
Priya went back to the bed and crawled inside the quilt.She hugged Saahil from behind and bit his left earlobe. Saahil chuckled and rolled on top of her. Priya laughed and Saahil passionately kissed her.
“Akka,all ready?“,Priya stood at the kitchen door and asked.
“Muaah! Bye“,Saahil kissed Priya on her cheeks and sipped the milk and rushed to the front door.
“Team lunch today“,the voice came out from somewhere down the staircase.
“Akka,tomorrow buy some chicken.It has been a while.“
“That guy owes Rs.20.He is an asshole.“
“That’s OK.No problem.“
“Please pack my lunch too Akka,I am already late.“
“Then who will wash the dishes?“
“Don’t shout.I will pack it.“
Priya went to the room and brought her hand bag.She took out a smelly lunchbox and smiled at Akka.
“Sorry,forgot to wash it.“
“Wait,why did you buy cabbage?Haven’t I told you not to buy cabbage?“
“Today,plantain was not there,so I thought I will buy cabbage and shred it.“
“Don’t ever buy cabbage.“
Priya said nothing.
“Akka,let’s go.I am already late to office.”
Akka came out holding the garbage bag in one hand and a cloth bag on the other.”Dish wash liquid is over.Mustard and jeera are over.“
“OK.You buy them tomorrow.Keep this.”,Priya stretched out a Hundred Rupee note.
After driving for a while,Priya stopped the car and breathed heavily.She opened the door and puked on the road.She searched for the bottle and gulped lots of water;but,again puked.She closed the door and turned on the air conditioner.She turned the blower on to her face and swallowed air.
5.30 AM.The alarm rang. Riya woke Priya up and went to the toilet.
“Riya! Did Priya wake up?“,Mom asked from the kitchen.
Priya dragged herself from the bed and leaned on the toilet door.
“I don’t want to go to school today.“
“As if I want to go.”
“It is because of our school bus.The class starts at 8.45 AM and for that we need to start from here at 5.30 AM.“
“What to do?“
“Why can’t you tell parents to send us in public bus?Then we need to start from home only at 8.15 AM.“
“We are too small.“
“You?Small?Aren’t you in 6th standard?“
“But,Parents will not agree.And,yeah at least today please don’t puke.“
“What will I do?They smoke up the bus with foul-smelling agarbathis and I feel suffocated.”
“Today also cabbage“,Riya opened the steel lid and smirked at Priya.
“I know but what can we do.There is no money.I will tell Dad to buy something else tonight.Few more months — once our new house is built then Dad will have money with him.“
“Amma,you don’t know anything.Rice and cabbage for breakfast,rice and cabbage for lunch and rice and cabbage for dinner.Do you know,I vomit daily in the bus?“
“Ayyo,what happened Priya?” “Riya,is it true?”
Riya said nothing and continued eating.
“Yes,Amma.I am telling the truth.I feel suffocated inside the school bus.The agarbathis smell churn my stomach.This cabbage never digests for me and I puke until I reach school.Two days back when I puked,rice and cabbage came out and boys made fun of me telling that I eat rice for breakfast.Friends always tease me saying Amma knows to cook only rice and cabbage.“
Amma said nothing.That day,an hour after getting inside the school bus,when Priya burped,smell of cabbage prevailed in the air surrounding her.And she knew,it is time to run to the door.The bus driver braked upon seeing her next to his seat.She ran to the nearby bushes and puked her soul out. Riya sat in her seat without acknowledging the happenings.
“Can’t you tell your parents to buy some medicine to stop vomiting?“,driver showed all his disliking in his voice.
“Are you pregnant?“,asked Vijay and his boys gang.There was a big laughter when Priya walked back to her seat.The taste of undigested half-cooked cabbage lingered inside her mouth for the entire day.
Priya flashed her ID card through the car window and drove off to the parking lot.That day when she opened one of her lunch boxes,she saw fried,yellow colored shredded cabbage.She smelled it once and then ran to washroom.