She’s sweating bucketfuls even though the air conditioning in this shopping mall is blasting arctic air through the vents. One hand holds four shopping bags, there’s three more on the floor sandwiched between her legs, while her other hand barely manages to hold down her four-year-old – a slippery baby eel eyeing the gigantic teddy bear sitting invitingly in a toy-store window display. It doesn’t matter that she’s just had a Happy Meal and two hours in the play area. She wants more. Always does.
“Hold still, please, Arya. Mumma has to withdraw money… and no, you don’t need that teddy bear. We’re going home now.”
She forgot her reading glasses at home. Crap! She’s squinting at the ATM machine’s grainy screen hoping she’s punching the right buttons.
The thirty-something bloke waiting behind her is tapping his polished shoe impatiently. She shoots him an apologetic glance. His eyes do a 360-degree roll in his sockets.
Little Arya’s hand punches in a wrong number just when she’s about to hit enter, for the third time.
She loses it and hisses like a cornered snake at Arya, “Why can’t you behave yourself for two minutes?!”
Arya starts to wail uncontrollably. The man behind them is going tch, tch, tch. She finishes her transaction somehow, scoops up her bags and her sobbing child in her arms and starts walking away when she hears the man mutter, “What a terrible mother”.
Copyright ©2018 Pradita Kapahi.
All rights reserved.