So Shainaz retreated. Shaad Ali just shook his head. He wish Shainaz learnt soon enough to not question Abba – never question Abba. Shabnam saw her Ammi sweeping the floor and picking up the pieces. She went up to her to pick some pieces of the cup she was never allowed to touch when it was whole. She saw her Ammi’s eyes and began putting pieces together – of the cup and more.
Abba does not like it when someone asks him a question. Just the way he does not question anyone in his tailor shop and goes about with his stitching he expects no one else to question him at home. Shabnam remembers being small and sitting on the floor playing with Shainaz. They had eaten dinner and Abba was not home yet. Ammi had kept food on the stone near the stove. She had not eaten yet and she kept glancing at the door. Abba walked in after a while when Chachu had already slept. Shabnam remembers being sleepy but awake playing with animal blocks. Ammi rushed with a lota of water and asked why he was so late, Abba without a pause pushed the lota away and the clank woke Chachu, Shainaz, Shaad and everyone else up. But no one stirred. Abba grunted and pinched Ammi on her arm so hard that it turned purple. Shabnam saw all of this and wish she could pretend to sleep like everyone else.
Ammi never spoke about it the next day and neither did anyone else. Shabnam knew it was not something you ask about. But Shabnam started sitting a little farther away from Abba and more closer to Ammi. Shainaz obviously did not notice the subtle change that had come over, neither did she give much thought to what had happened.
One day Abba came back with a box game for Shaad Ali. Shaad was just back from school and was watching TV. Shabnam was watching TV as well while helping Ammi with filling water in different vessels. Shaad saw the box and his eyes widened. Before Abba could give it to him, Shaad excitedly asked Abba if Abba had more such box games for Shah Rukh and Javed as well. Abba got really angry. He threw the box at Shaad and then pulled him over by his ear to beat him with the stick. The box game never came home again. Shabnam never spoke to Shaad about it. Neither did Shah Rukh or Javed. They all knew it was not something you spoke about. But Shabnam started sitting a little farther away from Abba and more closer to Ammi. Abba did not notice, Shainaz did not notice, Shaad did not notice – Ammi did.
Ammi tried telling Shabnam about how Abba worked so hard, how it was hard for him since Chachu did not work, how he loves everyone and every Abba in every house gets angry but naturally.
Shabnam believed Ammi but did not understand.
But she did learn sooner than anyone else – never question Abba.