“Which story do you want tonight?”
“The one with three fairies?”
“But I told you that story yesterday!”
“Don’t you want a different story tonight?”
“Ok, then I want the one in which fritters rain from sky.”
“Aren’t you a smart ass? It’s the same story with three fairies in which fritters rain from sky.”
“Fine, I want the one from the time when you were a small girl and tried to milk a goat.”
My cheeks flared red and Ma burst out laughing, hugging me tight, and gathering cool white sheets around us, on beds placed strategically under the moon. There was never a time when Ma didn’t know my favorite stories. Neither was there a time when my great grandma stopped smiling at me from moon. The nights when my great grandma on moon hid her face in the blanket of big, grey cotton balls, there were always rabbits, birds, bears, and babies of the same cotton balls to keep me company.
The universe came together with Ma to put me to sleep.
A strange sleep it was, full of dreams, finding parts of me that were still shaking with fear that the fairies felt when threatened with being eaten alive by a man, parts of me that were shaking with anger and wanted to kill the man who wanted to kill fairies, and parts of me that wanted to save myself. Sleep came when I found parts of me that flew away with the fairies somehow knowing that those beautiful, pink wings were meant to make me fly.
Sometimes Ma’s stories found me on the other side of the spectrum, with the greed of the man who wanted more things to devour, and could eat fairies too.
I was her stories, her stories were me, and they were everything I ever dreamt of, hoped for, wanted but also wanted to run away from.
The nights when there were no stories, I would watch the teary twinkles of what Ma called Dhruv, the star on moon’s tail. It was the star closest to moon, yet a little to the side, surviving in moon’s love and hatred, yet never hugging it, neither fighting it.
In winters when we didn’t sleep on the terrace, Ma always found rays of light peering through window curtains and we would catch it in our eyes and then keep our eyes shut to keep ghosts of the darkness away throughout the night.
Ma’s winter stories were the same as summer stories, but they seemed warmer and softer. Eyes shut, corners of our quilts on top of each other to make a longer quilt, my arm around a big, soft belly and leg on top of her legs. Sometimes a drop of water would fall on my face, especially when the fairies in Ma’s stories would fly away to escape the monsters in the shape and form of men.
And so I dreamt on when I learnt to dream, of a world where no boys would hit me, tease me, or not want me to serve them when we all came home tired from school. They all wanted to kill fairies, they were all bad.
Ma’s monsters eventually became mine.
And Ma and I?
I betray her with my love for the enemy. I eventually betray every enemy with my love for Ma.
I stay away from Ma and the enemy but then around them, close to them but never together.
I am my Ma’s Dhruv.