“A for?” I prompted again.
She kept jiggling her feet, apparently interested on the burn mark on the tablecloth.
“What’s this burn, Mamma?” she suddenly asked.
Taken aback, I quickly tried to think of something, “Er…Nothing baby, just Mamma being careless with the candle."
“What’s careless, Mamma?”
She was curious these days.
“Not watching closely what you’re doing,” I reluctantly replied.
“Is Papa careless whenever he beats you?’
And she is growing out to be bright.
“Clara? A for?” I said sternly.
At once, her brows tightened, “A-V-O-C-A-D-O!” she said.
Gosh. Where did she learn this word?
“What about apple?” I asked, picking up her notebook, murmuring to myself, “Haven’t I…?”
Instantly, I remembered another evening. ‘A for ant,' I had written and my step-father had reminded me, “Ants grow wings just before their fall”. He twisted my little wrist twice so that I never forget ‘A is for Apple’ and nobody changes that.
It seems nothing has changed. It’s just that my step-father has now been replaced by my husband. I unknowingly caressed the fresh burn mark Clara’s father had given me when I had to slap him to stop him from hitting me. My fault - too much salt in the food.
Talons as usual seared on me to clip my wings or maybe my wings have already being clipped but I am not going to let the same thing happen to my daughter.
“Mamma? Are you being careless now?” Clara’s voice brought me back to the present.
I looked at her notebook, the next word was ‘B’, it read ‘B for Buterfly’.
Later, I taught Clara ‘F for Freedom’ and ‘W for Wings’, determined to raise a would-be-buterfly; a 'butterfly' with double ‘t’.
Written by: Swatilekha Roy