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Family
School
Her Lady Tigress
Writer Miss Anderson
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  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • R: Restricted
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#2
Sweet Chariot
Miss Anderson
Apr 14, 2018
0
0
38
7 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!0kgknDtcNhAtbV5ErE5wposted on PENANA

"Swing looow, sweet charioot, coming for to carry me hoomeee..."copyright protection38PENANAUux52WgZJL

That's the song I hear whenever she is in the kitchen. The sweet melody is sung from Emaye's (amharic for mommy) beautiful sihlouette in the hotel kitchen---a big-boned thirty-seven year old Ethiopian woman with deep brown skin and thick black curls held up in a frizzy bun. She flips sourdough flatbread and seasons the vegetables. Skirting around the staff, she grabs two plates from the cupboard. copyright protection38PENANAkJ6B4uexG2

"Mou, how was your day at school?"copyright protection38PENANAPhw0cBEEfK

"Good."copyright protection38PENANAbaeIggFwgo

"Put these on the table for me."copyright protection38PENANAhB8nccRrKy

As I set down my backpack, she hands me the two plates and gives another one to my sister when she comes through the door. "We have company?"copyright protection38PENANAtzPZA2BeGR

"Bapi is coming." Emaye does not turn to us as she adds another sourdough pancake on the skillet.copyright protection38PENANAZR2dziueOL

Without a word, Nandita clinches her jaw and sets the table beside me.copyright protection38PENANAD6mLtzYl0I

"Does he have company?" I ask.copyright protection38PENANATuhIuRL56r

"He is bringing his eldest son and daughter, so you know the rules."copyright protection38PENANAX6jZjThO86

Nandita slams the plate on the table, and I literally see a crack form through the middle before the whole thing shatters into about ten pieces---like in a cartoon.copyright protection38PENANAzLcWxFwv1x

Emaye whips around. "PICK IT UP, Nandita," she growls through gritted teeth.copyright protection38PENANAdV1vDwnpCu

Nandita scrambles to pick up the pieces, and I place the trash can next to her. "Why does he have to come, Emaye? He is going to ruin our whole end of the semester. Why can't he wait til summer, like usual?" She shoves long black ripples of hair over her shoulder. "It's Mou's last year before she goes to college."copyright protection38PENANAQzAazT3QIb

Emaye deposits veggies on all the plates around one of the tables in the empty dining hall---so different from the scattered hotel guests checking out this morning. "He has a business meeting tonight. His family will be flying in tomorrow to join us for dinner, which means you are expected to be on your best behavior."copyright protection38PENANAXiX9fuPLZQ

We continue setting the table quietly. copyright protection38PENANAidLkIpQ5Os

"Am I understood?"copyright protection38PENANAzF29QB3TsM

"Yes, Emaye," we answer in unison.copyright protection38PENANA5p43zjxo4x

As I place Bapi's dish in front of his chair at head of the table, I catch sight of his white limo out the window. Bapi steps out in a bronze suit with a plain yellow tie and sporty sunglasses to match. Our father is anything but traditional. For one, like us, he was raised under integrated cultures. His father was a rich Ethiopian man, and Bapi's mother was a Bengali girl that was sold to his father at 15. In the end, she ended up falling in love with him, and she quickly became his favorite wife of three. He allowed to her go back to India to continue her studies and paid for her to go to the nicest institutions. While she raised their children--2 boys and a girl---she resided here in America. copyright protection38PENANAfnK0Htqyyf

Bapi is the eldest and the heir to his father's estate. He is every bit just like the grandfather Nandita and I have never met but have heard of. He studied business in school, where he met his best friend. Together, they opened a fairly successful local hotel here in Atlanta and several bed and breakfasts throughout the country: The Regalia's.  copyright protection38PENANA08V3iMEmF7

Bapi is accompanied by one of his prized Rampur greyhounds, Gigi, with her giant yellow sunflower collar to match his tie and sunglasses. copyright protection38PENANA8LwcO5wmuB

"Be good," Emaye reminds as the bell-hop opens the door.copyright protection38PENANATJYEKG7beF

The staff lines up in front of the counter. "Good afternoon, Mr. Gupta."copyright protection38PENANAqfOmi68XtO

"Good afternoon, everyone. Relax." He smiles to my mother. Despite having a wife to whom he was betrothed and seven other children, I have never seen him look at her like he looks at Emaye. "Hello, beautiful." He kisses her fingers gingerly, then glances at us. "My girls, how you have grown since I saw you this winter. Madhuri, you are such a beautiful young woman---a noble Rajakumari. Nandita---a stunning and dauntless as ever, I see." copyright protection38PENANA4BABOoGkLa

"Thank you, Bapi."copyright protection38PENANAVEUTiEApPO

Nandita smiles, unable to keep her grimace for long. copyright protection38PENANA5g4UCn0Lku

"Why the distance?" He laughs. "Come give your Bapi a hug."copyright protection38PENANAzp5a0TyGek

Despite our irritation, we are genuinely happy to see Bapi. Needless to say, our family is dysfunctional, but that does not mean it doesn't work sometimes.copyright protection38PENANAR9YM3hqDHg

"I have gifts," he replies, motioning to Robert to deliver two gift bags. copyright protection38PENANAsNwxH9UIUf

Digging through the paper decor, I reveal a beautiful exotic looking bag with swirling indigo patterns.copyright protection38PENANAcuEhEEbdlp

"Handmade banjara backpacks---they are one of the latest styles. I bought them from a nice old woman on my visit to one of the other locations. Do you like them?"copyright protection38PENANAxdzwZCOpgv

Nandita's bag is pink and gold. "AYYYEEE. Bapi!!!! It is beautiful!"copyright protection38PENANAFJicgZlaHg

He laughs. "I thought you would, Abhi." Loosening his tie, he pulls out Emaye's seat for her. "Konjit, thank you for preparing this marvelous luncheon."copyright protection38PENANApTL3bqInD3

"I thought maybe you deserve it, Workneh Gupta."copyright protection38PENANAMbglIfYwFe

Nandita and I stand aside, waiting for him to pull out our seats. As we begin our meal, Gigi lounges between us with hopeful brown eyes. Last time we saw her, she was a little biddy puppy. I drop a piece of toast, and Nandita drops a piece of turkey meat.copyright protection38PENANA1lYkxejTp1

"So, Konnie, how are the numbers looking this off-season?"copyright protection38PENANA9PVVT7lBuZ

"Not bad, but they should pick up soon with the summer rush." Emaye stirs her eggs and sips her goat's milk.copyright protection38PENANAEgbVCTbBpQ

Nandita kicks me under the table, and when I glare at her, she mouthes, "Are you gonna ask?"copyright protection38PENANAQrbOMJ26Cs

When I shake my head, she kicks me again. Fine, I mouth through gritted teeth and a mouthful of vegetables; my sister smirks with satisfaction. Swallowing hard, I drop another piece of toast to Gigi before wiping my hands and mouth. copyright protection38PENANA7Mh3Iaa3ME

A deep breath---"Bapi, I have been chosen to go to Italy for the summer. Working at a conservation center---with the opportunity to write about my research and experience at the end of the summer. I could even be published." I fiddle with my napkin. "I entered my writing into a school contest, and I won. I am one of ten people chosen to go in the whole country. I will get to work with tigers."copyright protection38PENANA2rVdmy7x9x

He mixes vegetables on his sour dough platform. "Learn about research with tigers, eh?"copyright protection38PENANAoZZAOLjRRW

"Yes, and they are BENGAL tigers, if that makes it better." Even as the words flow out of my mouth with ease, I feel butterflies of uncontrollable anticipation on the inside.copyright protection38PENANAjZJA2rLcux

"And you would like to go?"copyright protection38PENANARxYMLllSTu

"Bapi, I think I've made that pretty clear---with all of my heart---yes, I would like to go!"copyright protection38PENANAqhupSiac91

"Oh, Bapi, please let her go! I will do all of her chores ALL summer long!" Nandita puts in.copyright protection38PENANA8s1S33jPfO

Emaye gives a side-smile. "Abhi, with that offer, we couldn't refuse, but be that here nor there, I already talked to Ms. Richardson and approved."copyright protection38PENANAm7mlU8Gf0z

Bapi frowns at her. "Without talking to me."copyright protection38PENANAJqRdQJw0VF

Emaye waves her hand dismissively. "Aye, Workneh, do you really think I need your approval for anything to do with my daughters?" She clucks her tongue against her teeth. "I just need you to give me my money. I have raised our girls strong up to this point."copyright protection38PENANA2483Wc6g1m

His wife wouldn't dream of talking to him like that. After all, she also comes from a rich family and was trained from a young age that ladies are seen, not heard---certainly nothing like Emaye, who is loud and outspoken and merry most of the time. Maybe, that is why Bapi looks at her the way he does.  copyright protection38PENANA5ousJoAqDA

Bapi cocks his eyesbrows at us, clearing his throat. "Nandita, you will be attending summer classes at the university in the hopes of earning a scholarship, but I suppose you can fit an extra chore or two in there." He winks at her bemusedly. "Madhuri, enjoy your summer. You are guaranteed to get into an Ivy League college, and you have worked hard ahead of you. The path to medical school will not be easy, and I expect you home the middle of July so that you can prepare. You mother told me you also got accepted for the hospital internship you applied for---are you sure this is what you want, Mou?"copyright protection38PENANA0m1RASA6Sw

"Yes, Bapi, I'm absolutely positive."copyright protection38PENANAMVAUYx65N8

"And have no doubt you will behave yourself?"copyright protection38PENANAsTwWlgkVGX

"As long as people don't act stupid, when have I ever given you any problems, Bapi?"copyright protection38PENANAwGkyyVq91j

"That mouth of yours, that's the problem. You get it from your mother." He shakes his head. "Did you talk to Jayanand about this? Remember---betrothal comes with responsibilities of its own. He is going to be---"copyright protection38PENANAFNegIdNPiB

"My partner in life..." I smirk. "I will talk to him at school."copyright protection38PENANAXLvtHQJ2Mq

"Hmmm...speaking of school..." Emaye nods her head toward the stairs. "Get to your homework."copyright protection38PENANA0i7kQFfhPh

Wrapping the last half of my sourdough in a napkin, I jog upstairs followed by Nandita and Gigi. copyright protection38PENANAAv5OLO1zDk

Nothing can ruin this news! Not even the fact that when Bapi's daughters join us we will have to pretend we do not exist as Bapi's children...because his family knows nothing about us. They live their lives in Ethiopia as princesses.copyright protection38PENANAbA5H4NxNQj

Oh, and did I mention I am betrothed to the son of Bapi's best friend? It is Bapi's way of ensuring we will inherit part of his estate because he knows I will, without a doubt, share with my younger sister as well as take care of my mother. This story only gets evermore unpredictable. copyright protection38PENANAeQClbt1rKQ

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