The bell rang and the bus hit the brakes. The peanut man got on the bus and started chanting his ritual, “Peanuts! Peanuts! Baked peanuts! 100 rupees per bag! Only 100 rupees!”. Some old ladies delightfully bought them. I nonchalantly looked away and closed my eyes. They flew open as I heard Thaththa’s voice call out, “One bag please.”. I jolted up from my relaxed position and stared at him. Thankfully he didn’t notice. As I looked on, he opened the bag of peanuts and started cracking them and munching on them ever so gleefully. As if he has done this all his life. As if he always bought peanuts from the peanut man on the bus. As if he wasn’t disgusted by the peanut man’s attire and black hands. As if he never claimed that these peanut men were unhygienic. Suddenly, tears pricked my eyes. I quickly looked away and stared out the window. Thaththa’s munching sounds were painfully echoing in my ears. I tried to drown them out but failed. Finally, I decided to put on my earphones and go to sleep. As the music shut out everything, I could not help but steal one more glance at my father, happily munching on his bag of peanuts. A bitter smile took over my lips as he looked at me. He smiled back. A genuine smile. One that was rich with glee.
The bell rang and the bus hit the brakes. The peanut man got on the bus and started chanting his ritual, “Peanuts! Peanuts! Baked peanuts! 100 rupees per bag! Only 100 rupees!”. Some old ladies delightfully bought them. I looked at Thaththa and begged him to get me a bag. He strictly refused. “What that man does is unhygienic. You might get sick if you eat those peanuts. If you want peanuts, I will buy them for you, just not these.” Naturally, I sulked all the way home, yet true to his words, Thaththa bought me a big bag of peanuts from the supermarket.
The bus raced, past trees and houses. Then the bus passed the sea. On any other day, I would have been excited to stare at the sea and breathe in the salty air as we passed. Not today. Today was different. Today, I realized the true nature of our status. Today, my picky, strict, careful, and proud Thaththa ate peanuts from the peanut man on the bus. Today, Thaththa was happy to eat the dry, flavorless, burnt peanuts. Today, my Thaththa who used to go to expensive restaurants, buy us foreign clothes and perfumes, never eat anything from street vendors or bus vendors, and always needed the air-con, disappeared. The person I saw in front of me was Thaththa, but not Thaththa. The countless times I offered him my peanut bag that I got from the peanut man on the bus, and the countless times he refused, played over my mind. Something inside me snapped and I wailed from within, growing a newfound yet deep hatred towards the small green, orange and brown papers that had the power to do this to my Thaththa.
Rtr. Sayuri Wijesinghe
Share this content: