Writer and journalist Krupa Ge invites readers to a world of motherly affection in his short story Amma
The sea can be a cruel mistress, and a mother’s love can be blind. In her short story, writer and journalist Krupa Ge invites readers to a world of motherly affection and a marriage made in the wrong kind of paradise.
1. Mary woke up with the biggest smiles this morning.
2. If you know Mary, you will know why Laranse is wary of her smile.
Marie had spent all her childhood dreaming of getting the hell out of the little big fishing village, the one that housed the oldest inhabitants of the island. Its proud men and women wore it as a badge of honor, their property of both land and sea. No other people could claim what they could, they could circumvent the laws of a nation of the greatest. powerful forces that had nothing less than nuclear weapons in their possession. They had done it. No coastal law intended for others applied to them; they had established the first claim on the seas and its sands, and the proud nation had put its tail between its legs and allowed them to claim it, although at times it looked away when the navy of the not-so-friendly neighboring nation pulled their men down for trespassing in the disputed waters.
Mary wanted to live as far from the water as possible, however; wanted to wash this wet trail from her skin, her hair, her very being. She was sure of one thing, she would not marry a man who sailed. She would marry a man with a regular employment. Any job that didn’t involve waking up before the sun and crashing into the waves. It didn’t mean one day never to come back from the ocean, swallowed up by the vast empty blue, as had happened to his father; the neighbor’s warship had crashed into his small mechanized craft and drowned him in pieces.
Laranse was the kind of man who wanted to be buried at sea. Not only was he proud of his profession, but he was also mind, body and soul, in love, in love, in love with the ocean. She was the only woman he bowed to, he said, he’d heard the cheesy dialogue in a dubbed movie. About death, like his father, he didn’t care, but when he did it was only to say: When I die, I want to be cremated, not buried. I want my ashes in the sea. So I can become one with the ocean. So I can become the ocean. His day began not when he opened his eyes in the morning, but when he pushed his boat, the wind whipping his almost naked body, his feet grainy with salt and sand. And it ended with a meal of the ocean in your mouth. Their was a match made in the wrong kind of heaven. When his mother came home to ask for Mary’s hand, she had said that her son would give up sailing altogether. She had also said that he had a big job coming up at the Electricity Commission.
You can move further inland to where my brother-in-law has a house, she lied.
You old bull-headed beast, liar, Mary has run into curses, looking north to the sky, every morning, hugging, kneeling on the ground. This poor woman had no choice but to lie for her son.
Laranse had returned home one night after seeing this angel of a young girl with the green nose hairpin on the shore. She was gracefully plump, draped in a half yellow sari, her hair in a single long braid, a few scattered strands framing her face. From a distance, standing on his boat, he had seen her. Like that Kanyakumari whose nose stud guided the lost to shore, Mary had brought Laranse home. He told his mother that he would not give him heirs if they did not come from Mary’s womb. After arranging the wedding as on order, her mother passed away, to join her husband and, according to Mary, watched the entertainment from afar as the fireworks unfolded in this tiny house.
Laranse paid the price for Mary’s disappointment the very day after her marriage. As she ran out, ignorant but also smirking at the insinuations made by the virginal and rowdy neighborhood girls – who had been lying awake all night listening to the sounds of their marital bliss – he stepped out behind. she, smoking a cigarette, looking smart, her tight t-shirt hugging her muscular chest and her shorts, a little shorter than she liked, enveloped her spectacular thighs. She had assumed that her new husband had come to see her and walked over to him to stop halfway as he rushed into the sea, pushing his boat inside.
It was then that she noticed the other men with Laranse. They had all filed together. Laranse looked happy, singing, talking to the ocean, as if she was the mistress he couldn’t wait to find again; this precious mistress, Mary wanted to cry, was sure to kill him one day, as she had done with other men. Cyclones could beat them to death as governments wrung their hands, unable even to return the bodies lost to the Gulf; that miserable black wall from the tsunami could happen even when everything seemed calm; let’s say they learned, as they had done for thousands of years, to bypass distant rains, winds and earthquakes as well, how could they ever predict the routes of bullets? The sea only made her anxious and over the years every happy memory had been replaced by thoughts of death, a morbid, cruel death that straddled the waves, furious like a truck without brakes.
his new husband ignoring his mother’s promises he had gone to work for the day and when he returned with his catch Mary refused to go out and sell. You lied to me. I will have my revenge when I die. You wait and see, she said looking north, kneeling, hugging, again and again. She wouldn’t show him her anger, she hadn’t yet figured out if he was the punching type, it was too soon. So she took refuge in these imaginary reprimands. Her mother wasn’t going to come back from the grave to defend herself anyway. Laranse did not come to the aid of his mother either. He was happy in a way that he didn’t have to deal with the mess she had made.
3. So you now know why Laranse is suspicious of his new wife’s new mirth. He didn’t even go out to sea. He sat all day by the boat, smoking and drinking toddy.
Could she? Would she have? he wondered. That damn oracle ruined my head, he kicked the sand.
He was alone by the shore one weekday, waiting for the clouds to pass. And there she was out of nowhere, this woman with a wand in her hand, her hair in a bun, a giant red dot on her forehead, her face shining golden yellow, as if she had bathed in rays. morning, draped in a dark red sari. To predict his future.
You are a good young man, you are. Amma tells me that you are a good husband. A faithful man, indeed. Amma also predicts that someone who hates you all day and all night is living nearby. Be careful… don’t believe her, yes, Amma tells me it’s a woman. Don’t trust your life with this woman. She is here to get
my boy, you can’t win with her. Stay out of danger, stay out of his way.
With that and two pimps as payment, she was gone.
Krupa Ge is a Madras-based writer. She is the author of What We Know About Her (Context), which was shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature 2021, and Rivers Remember (Context)