RUBY IYER IS just another scared, screwed-up teenager growing up in Bombay, until the despotic Dr Kamini Braganza kidnaps her best friend. Now, Ruby will do anything to rescue him. Anything, including taking the help of the reticent Vikram Roy, a cop on a mission to save Bombay. The city needs all the help it can get, and these two are the only thing standing between its total destruction by Dr Braganza’s teen army. As Bombay falls apart around them, will Ruby be able to save her friend and the city? Will she finally discover her place in a city where she has never managed to fit in? And what about her growing feelings for Vikram.
Ruby wrote almost daily in her diary from the age of ten, till she left home at sixteen-and-a-half. It is from here I picked scenes from her early life. They have been chosen in chronological sequence but are in no specific order of importance.
Diary entry – 1
THE SOUNDS TRAVEL through the layers surrounding me. I am snug in my warm, little world. I am ready to go.
Impatient, I kick out, only to slam into a barrier. Trapped! I throw out my fists.
I long to be free.
Then, a voice soothes. Music filters through. Lush, solemn and gentle it pushes away my thoughts, replacing the chaos with white. I quieten.
I am drowsy, but can’t sleep.
Ma’s misery wraps me in swathes of grief.
Lonely, she is so lonely. Adrift in a world where she does not belong anymore. As if she has been pushed against her will. Is it possible to feel such unhappiness? It’s dark enough to cloud the spotless silver of my mind. I can scarcely move. What is it that disturbs her so much?
When I tell her about this, my first awake memory, she dismisses it. “No one remembers what it is like to be in the womb, I can tell you how it was to carry you though,” she continues. Once she gets going, there is no stopping Ma. She is like a fireman’s water hose – unplugged, out of control. Nothing can withstand her frustrations. “You were the most violent baby ever. So restless I thought you were going to tear your way out. Not like your brother. The calmest child he was.”
Just another day, when I have disappointed her.
There really is no way to make Ma happy. It’s going to be many years before I realise that. Perhaps I never will.
Right now, I am a ten-year-old trying to figure out the ways of this world. A place, where grown ups tower over me. Where if I don’t do as I am told I ampunished.
I am always being told to share. Today is when I decide I simply don’t want to share my home with another kid.
He is an adorable little doll like creature, my brother. He crawls all over following me, wanting to sleep in my bed, to play with my dolls. He wants to imitate me.
I guess I should be flattered.
He slithers towards the balcony, and standing up holds onto the grill. Above the parapet is vacant space. Opting to keep the flat stylish, Ma’s decided not to have any grills put on the bannister. Sanjay places his chubby little hands on the railing, looking through the grills. I lift him up. He is a heavy baby. Little Mr. Pleased-with-himself he is.
I started life much like him. But the weight just slipped off in my third year. Its probably the stress of having to take care of Dad while Ma is away on another of her social engagements. That was until little bro—Sanjay came along. The child that almost never happened. The boy she had always wanted. Ma didn’t have time for me earlier.
I kiss Sanjay on his cheek. He smells of baby powder. My lips touch his pale, pink cheeks and my tongue comes away with the taste of fresh cheese. I am enveloped in a white, sugary rush of affection.
Ma says he smells like himself but also like her.
I heave him up at eye level with the railing. So tempting… It will be easy to simply push him just that little bit over the edge.
I turn away still holding him in my hands. The baby wails, attracting the attention of both Ma and the nanny she’s hired for Sanjay. But Sarita keeps me company instead. For, Ma will not let her darling out of sight. Surprise, surprise, she is the first to reach me: Ma covers the length of the room, in a single leap. I have never seen her move so fast. Ever. She snatches up her precious son.
She has no idea how close she came to losing him.