His Favourite Yellow T-Shirt Had Red Stains On It
His Favourite Yellow T-Shirt Had Red Stains On It7 mins 149 7 mins 149
“Help. Somebody help. PLEASE!!!”
“Kaya- no ones going to listen to you.”
My mind’s contradicting thoughts screeched internally.
The answer, already known to me, echoed through parts of my brain that I didn’t even know existed. And although I’ve come across this same answer numerous times, in numerous different situations, I still have to try to change it, because if I don’t, I might just become the reason everyone dies.
(5 hours earlier...)
“Ma, I’m going to take a look at the store for hiding N Seek Biscuits.” I, the daughter of the family, yelled out to my busy mother on a Saturday morning.
Hi there. I’m Kaya, your average (or slightly below when it comes to math) 13-year-old girl, I live in the small town of Thoothukudi. My family (ma, pa, and Amo, my little brother) run a tiny grocery store, located near our even tinier home. A store where one could only find the most necessary of necessary resources to get through life. “Pavanjal Groceries”, we so dearly named it.
“Get a packet of dal too okay!” My mother hastily shouted back to me as she suddenly remembered the list of nutritional needs for the week.
I skipped into the humid air of the shop, where I found Amo, my younger brother, playing with his newly bought toy contraption of some sort, seated near pa, who was lazily sifting through some chocolate wrappers on the counter.
“I see you ate 3 today, pa.”
“We don’t tell ma okay? I’ve still got that matka you broke to blackmail you with.” Cheerful pa mumbled with a sneaky smirk on his face.
I ignored my father’s sugar addiction and continued to skip through the well-kept aisles of the shop until I came across my absolute favorite aisle of all! The row of biscuits. Though I try to deny with all my heart, I did somewhat inherit my father’s addiction to sweets.
As I carefully took out my favorite brand of biscuits from the countless rows of sweet snacks, pa announced out loud for both Amo and me to hear,
“Starting 2 days from now, we’ll have to close up shop before 6 pm for the next 2 weeks, because of some government issue. I’m not going to get into details here, but there will be police officers roaming around town to ensure that everyone is abiding by this rule and if we aren’t, they’ll write us up. So, this is gonna be great for business!” Pa sarcastically exclaimed.
“Kaya, remember to tell your ma when you get back to the house.”
“Yep, will do,” I said with a muffled tone as a biscuit was sandwiched into my mouth.
As I walked back and entered the house, I saw ma, rolling out our rotis for lunch.
“Ma, pa told me to tell you that because of some government issue we’ll have to close the shop at 6 pm for the next 2 weeks, starting this coming Monday.”
“Ah okay, I see.” Ma carelessly mumbled while shaping the rotis with every fiber of her being and focus, drowning in her own body’s perspiration.
“It’d sure be nice if I could free her from all this work one day.” I thought to myself.
“Did you get the dal?” For this inquiry, the woman made stern eye contact with me.
“Oh… the dal… I… I’ll go get it right now, give me one minute!”
“Kaya I told you-!” Ma yelled out with a clearly annoyed expression, but her voice was cut off as I ran off towards the store.
(2 hours earlier...)
“Why is it so bloody hot today?”
“It’s always this hot in Thoothukudi, ma,” I responded with a naive smirk on my face.
“Idiot bacha- I know. It was a rhetorical question.” Ma snapped back.
“Where’s your pa?”
“Is that rhetorical too or…”
“Kaya.” Ma’s tone deepened with an alarming seriousness towards me. She wasn’t in the mood for jokes.
“Okay okay, sorry- I don’t know, but where else would Amo and he be apart from the store?”
“I know, it’s just that it’s going to be lunch soon. Go call them.”
“Yes ma’am.” This young girl drowsily replied back.
(At the store...)
“Pa, Amo! We have lunch now. Pa!? Hello?!”
Not at the counter, nor at the biscuit aisle. Something felt off.
“Pa?! Where the heck is-”
I swiftly jumped back, hiding behind the bread aisle, as I stared off into the scene playing in front of my eyes, outside of the shop’s back door.
Too shocked to even believe- to even accept- that what was going in front of my very own eyes, was real.
After 2 minutes of being frozen in paralyzing fear, I snapped back into reality and sprinted my fastest towards mother, in the house.
“MA! MA!!! Pa and Amo! Police! Police!”
“Kaya, what happened? I can’t understand when you scream like that!”
With thick tears welling up in my eyes and a big lump at the back of my throat, choking my voice, I managed to spit out some words,
“Ma, police, they’re doing something to pa and Amo.”
Now, I’m well aware of what the police were doing back there, but saying it out loud- I didn’t want to. Almost as if my mouth wouldn’t dare let me speak the truth.
“Oh god.” With these 2 syllables, ma got up and rushed towards the shop. Her quick yet tiny strides, with one hand picking up the hem of her sari, alas, brought her to her destination.
I, naturally worried about what was going to happen next, stealthily followed mom back into the store, and hid to watch the commotion that was currently taking place.
“Ma, no don’t go!” I timidly shouted out to ma.
What started off as rough shoving, intense shouting and kicking the shop’s cargo, had eventually become a lot more physical. As if bare hands weren’t enough, iron sticks were practically the main characters at this moment.
“Am I selfish?” As my tears developed into waterfalls, and my calloused hands gripped tighter and tighter around the shelf’s edge, I couldn’t feel my voice to shout out for help, as in this very moment, all I could think about was,
“Why were they even here? Why did they… how could they, of all people, do this? We broke no rule! So why!? We did nothing wrong! But this doesn’t matter right now. I need to help. I have to help. I must… They’re going to die if I don’t do anything! Look at them Kaya! Your younger brother is on the ground gasping for air, pa is bleeding buckets from god knows how many body parts and ma?... I think they broke some of her bones. I think they broke a few of all of their bones. They weren’t even giving them a chance to talk! They weren’t being fair at all! Either way Kaya… What are you doing here, safe, hiding behind this shelf of bread? You’re the only one who has the privilege to do something about this! So why aren’t you doing anything, you idiot!?”
With that last thought and a fierce battle against myself, I began to race outside of the shop, into the streets, and go anywhere, everywhere, that I thought I could find someone to help.
The police? Of course not.
This man riding his bike? I’m chasing after him, begging with my palms glued to each other, but he’s got places to be.
This woman selling vegetables on the street? Apparently, either I buy something or I better “get out of her sight”. She’s “busy”.
Ah, what about this young, healthy-looking man buying fruit from the vendor?
Let’s give him a try.
“Sir, sir please, something happened to my family, they’re in bad condition, they’re at my shop, please help, PLEASE.” Gasping for air and words, I barely managed to string by an explanation.
“Um… I’m sorry but I have to take these back right now or my mom will kill me. Why don’t you contact the local police? They’re supposed to help with this stuff, no?”
And with that, with those last two sentences, something struck me.
I went quiet- I froze.
Still thinking about those last two lines that this young man sent piercing through my soul, I, shying away, looked up to the sky. The burning sun, blinding me. It was an extra hot day today, indeed.
As I attempted to cover my eyes with my hand, detailed visuals of today’s traumatic event started to spin around me.
And they wouldn’t stop.
“Amo’s favorite yellow t-shirt... it had red stains on it. I need to wash it when I get... back…”
I got drowsier with each thought.
“Ah, I’ve fainted. They must be dead by now.”
“I’m so pathetic.”