The first part deals with the narrator describing the relationship between Ashley and her mother.
Becca was standing in front of the gas stove, waiting for the milk to boil. The short needle of the round shaped clock sitting on the window in the kitchen, pointed toward six and the long needle pointed toward fifteen. Becca gazed at the way the branches of the tree which stood in front of the kitchen window, swayed from side to side with the breeze. The dark clouds blanketed the sky. The air smelt of wet mud and the road was still wet from the shower which took place sometime ago. Becca immediately switched off the gas when the milk began to rise in the vessel in which it was poured into, for boiling. She used the tongs to remove the vessel from the gas stove and covered the vessel with a lid, leaving it slightly open.
After having a hot shower, Becca pulled down the sides of glass of her bathroom window and sat on the commode, smoking her first cigarette of the day. She never missed this morning ritual. The ritual calmed her down. Suddenly, she heard the sound of the flush, coming from her mother’s bathroom. She got up instantly from the commode and put away her cigarette in the white bowl on the bathroom window. She got out of the bathroom and ran into her room, with the towel wrapped around her body.
Her mother was standing at the counter, reading the newspaper while waiting for the water to finish boiling. Becca silently walked into the kitchen, filled a bowl with cornflakes and poured the boiled milk into the cornflakes. She ate her breakfast standing at the counter, gazing at the view in front of her eyes. The tress still swayed in the breeze, the same manner that they were, before she had gone for her bath. The smell of cigarettes, alcohol and her cologne fused together, producing an unpleasant fragrance. She knew that her mother returned home late, last night. She knew that her mother wasn’t at the office. She was some place, else. But she didn’t know where exactly. Becca’s phone started vibrating in her pants pocket. She removed her phone and saw Aretha’s name flash on the screen. Hey, Aretha. I’m almost done with breakfast. Give me 5 minutes. I’ll meet you at the train station. After ending the call, Becca filled her bottle of water. She was about to walk out of the kitchen but she suddenly stopped when she remembered that she had to tell her mother something.
I’ve boiled an egg for you, for breakfast. There’s bread. You can have the egg with bread or whatever. She said this without turning back to look at her. And next time when you’re late, you need to tell me. I won’t bother worrying about you. Her mother was almost about to say something but Becca walked out as soon as was done telling her mother what she had to.
Becca was born out of wedlock. Her mother had her when she was twenty three years old. Her parents knew each other from college. It had only been a year into their relationship when Becca’s mother conceived her. Her parents ran away to Bombay when they got to know that her mother was pregnant with her. They knew that their respective parents would never accept their relationship and the illegitimate child that they had created. Becca was lucky to have him around for a while. But when she was 12 years old, he left Becca and her mother all alone. He went to work one day and never returned back. Her mother grew bitter after he left them. Her relationship with Becca had also begun to change. Becca reminded her, of him. She reminded her of what he’d done and that is what created a crack in the mother-daughter relationship. The memories which Becca had, of her parents together, were only happy memories. They were in love with each other. Becca never understood why he left. He never tried contacting them, to find out if they were doing okay. They couldn’t contact him either. They didn’t have a number to contact him on.
Aretha was waiting below Becca’s building with Stanley. When Becca’s eyes fell on Stanley, everything around him was a blur, including Aretha. Becca, Aretha and Stanley were friends since they were in primary school. Aretha had moved out of Bombay to shift with her parents to the States before she could complete her school. But she came to Bombay every few years because most of her family and all of her friends were in Bombay. The three of them managed to remain the best of friends even after Aretha moved away. Becca had shared with Aretha about her feeling for Stanley.
Her romantic feelings toward Stanley came into existence about a year ago. But she never got the courage to express how she really felt for him, for fear of losing her best friend.
What Becca didn’t know however, was that Stanley had been harboring the very same romantic feelings for Becca for about the same time as her. Stanley never expressed his feelings as well, for fear of losing his best friend. But finally about a month ago when they were together, all to themselves, Stanley confessed how he really felt for Becca and she did the same.
After college got over that day, Stanley and Becca decided to hang out together at her place. Aretha couldn’t make it because she had to be somewhere else, with her parents. Stanley and Becca went to the same college but had enrolled in different courses. Stanley was doing his Bachelors’ in Science while Becca was doing her Bachelors’ in Arts. Becca detested sunlight entering her room because lots of it rested in her room. So she shut the curtains of her room. They were sitting on her bed watching a movie and eating whatever little they could find in the kitchen. After watching the movie they laid on her bed. She rested her legs on his. They were face to face and close enough that she could his breath on her face.
I’ve been buying a carton of cigarettes every week, for the past one and half year and my mother has no idea. And they are lying in the shelf in my bathroom. I bet she knows and probably steals from me, occasionally.
Possibly. Or maybe, she is so consumed with her own life that she doesn’t really care about you.
That was painful but could very easily be the truth.
Does she have even the slightest clue that I’ve been taking tuition classes for a year now, to earn some pocket money? He remained silent. It is crazy isn’t it? We live under the same roof but we do not know what is happening in each other’s lives. Not even a little. Unlike her, I do want to know what is happening in her life. It has been six years since my father left us. I’ve been more a mother than she has.
Do you miss her?
I don’t know. I know that I used to. But I’m not sure whether I do anymore.
Why is it that?
You know, when Aretha told us that she was leaving for America, I was extremely sad. At the time, I knew you were feeling the same, so I didn’t know whether it was fair to come burden you with whatever I was going through. I used to share a lot with my mother and in that moment, I wanted to share what I was going through, with her. But she was never around. Especially, when I needed her. In these six years, I’ve done so much by myself that it almost feels like I don’t have parents. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to because there’s nothing that he would say that could change what I was feeling.