A collection of Short Stories on my Grandfathers

In this short story, my grandfather, as a young boy, is tortured by the thought of having to drink a particular oil during his holidays. It takes place in Malaysia, in the year 1946.
This is a story which I have written for my Personal Project at school. I will be writing a total of 13 different stories about my grandfathers and this is the first one! I would appreciate any feedback!


6. Sterilized Needles


It was a cool Monday morning and Aachie, in her white cotton sari and her hair tied into a bun the size of a baby’s fist, was sweeping the floor of the porch with a broom stall. She forcefully swept off the fire ants that were crawling and clinging to the water tap and the drain into the grass, and then used a small pink ladle to splash water around the area.

                “Quickly, all of you get ready!” Aachie shouted as she slid off her shoes and moseyed into the living area and then into the kitchen. She leaned the broom stall against the corner of the wall and turned around. She found herself looking at three Pyrex pots that were laid out neatly with covers slightly open, so that steam rose from it.  “Come, come, come, we must go now, the shop closes at noon!”

                In a bedroom, Malini, a petite girl of age 5, sat on the bed as her mother brushed her silky raven black hair and then pushed it behind her ears. Rajeswari gently rubbed her earlobes. They smiled at each other as they walked out of the room. Malini wore a baby blue dress and Rajeswari wore a yellow and brown, baggy Batik dress. 

                In the living room, her father sat on the easy chair with both hands on the hand rest and his head resting against the strings of plastic that went back and forth.  As he heard her trod towards him, he sat up straight, held is hands out and beamed at her. Across from them, Chinnapu flipped through the newspapers while humming a joyful tune.

                “You ready to go?” He asked her.

                Malini nodded her head at her uncle.

                At the end of the chair sat Batu Cave mamee. She was stitching a maroon button onto a pink lace dress and her eyes were fixed onto the needle she had between her fingers. In and out and in and out, the needle went. She created a knot and cut the string; the dress was finished.

                “Malini, see?  Your dress is complete, now you can use it for your birthday.” She told her niece.

                “Ok, everybody is ready? Let’s go.” Aachie walked towards the wall behind the TV and turned off the switch for the fan.

                Chinnapu drove the car into the porch and everybody entered. He drove into the town center and then parked in front of a road side, goldsmiths shop.

                They walked into the run-down shop; bright yellow paint was peeling off the walls, two rows of glass shelves containing gold necklaces, earrings and bracelet stood parallel to each other and sitting on a red plastic stool was an aged Indian man in his shorts and white singlet. He fidgeted with two stones until he finally placed them into an earring and then looked up to find them standing before him.

                “Hello, it’s been a long time since I have seen all of you!” He said as he recognized the faces and took his circular brown eyeglasses off. He turned off the small lamp which sat on the wooden table and walked towards them.

                “Vadiveloo Patter. How are you? Your job is going ok?” Aachie asked him. Her hands brushed against the glass cases and she took glimpses at the jewelry. Next to her were her three children and behind them came Rajaratnam and Malini, whose hands scrunched the end of her father’s shirt and held tight to it as they walked into the goldsmiths shop.  

                “Fine, everything is good. What can I do for all of you?” Vadiveloo Patter asked.

                “My daughter, Malini, has just turned 5, can you pierce her ear?” Rajeswari said.

                “Of course, where is she?”  Vadiveloo Patter looked around, as he could not see the little girl that was clinging to her father and observing the glistening gold that shone from their cases.

                “Come here!” Batu Cave Mamee waved at Malini to stand beside her and her bangles clashed into each other as she did so. Malini reluctantly let go of the polo shirt, shyly walked towards her and then slowly moved her doll like eyes to meet those of the old man.

                “No problem. Come into this room.” Vadiveloo Patter’s yellowish fingernail pointed to the green door behind him. He then turned the rusty and corroded nob and entered the dark room.

                “Ready, to get your earring?” Rajeswari asked her daughter.

                Malini nodded her head, and her silky, raven black hair bobbed up and down, as she took quiet steps back to her father and leaned against his right leg. Her delicate fingers reach up to his, and wrapped themselves in his warm and cozy palm, and in between his wrinkly fingers. She was delighted at the thought of having earrings, yet utterly unaware of the pain which she was about to endure.

                “Let’s go and quickly get it over with.” Aachie smiled at her granddaughter and patted her back.

                “Don’t worry, ok? Go quickly and come back.” Rajaratnam told Malini nervously.

                “Huh? Aren’t you coming in as well?” Rajeswari asked.

                “No, no, no. It’s okay; I will just stand here and wait.” Rajaratnam shook his head and walked outside. He had no intention of going inside the room with everybody else, as he didn’t want to witness his daughter going through pain and he couldn’t bear the thought of seeing her cry. He felt it’d be better for him to wait here.  

                As he stood against the windows of the shop and observed the yellow taxis and the children that played around the trees, Chinnapu, Batu Cave mamee and Rajeswari chuckled behind him.

                “Aya, come lets go.” Chinnapu laughed as he took his shades off.

                All four entered the green room; inside they saw a small red chair beside a table on which four sterilized needles were kept neatly on top of a spotless white towel. The cap of a green glass bottle filled with thick liquid was slightly open and Vadiveloo Patter was searching through a box for a pair of earrings.

                “Okay come. You can sit right here.”  Vadiveloo Patter firmly held the arm rests of the chair and waited for Malini to be carried onto it. “Are these earrings ok?” He asked her. They were a pair of golden studs, each with a small circular stone shining in the middle. When Malini saw them glistening she smiled instantly and nodded her head. “Ok, first I will put a little bit of medicine onto the ear, it will help with the pain.” He tightened the lid on the green bottle and shook it above his head until the substance had bubbled up slightly. After small balls of cotton were splashed with the yellow liquid, he rubbed them against the smooth and soft surface of Malini’s ear.

                Malini sat still on the small chair, her legs dangling in the air, and watched as the elderly man marked a small black dot on each ear with a marker pen.  One of her sweaty hands squeezed her mothers, while the other held a firm grip around the hand rest. She felt her stomach flipping and butterflies fluttering about. Tears rose up and were prepared to come flushing out, as her eyes locked onto the five centimeter long needle that was being carried by Vadiveloo Patter towards her ear.

                The moment she felt the sharp, flesh cutting needle pierce into her ear she led out a high pitched scream filled with terror and complete pain. Her hand unwrapped around the hand rest and ran up the arm of her mother. Her fingernails sunk into Rajeswari’s skin, nostrils flared up and her face grew longer with every sob. Tears fell down her rosy cheeks and neck, and they continued to fall until the needle was successfully put through and the earring was placed in.

                Outside, Rajaratnam sat on the red plastic stool with one leg crossed over the other. His right hand was messaging the other; crushing the fingers together, applying pressure onto the palm and bending all the fingers behind and then in front. He could hear his daughters shrilling cry for him, and when she cried so would he.  Something you should know about this grandfather is that tears are at the tip of his eyes, and they are waiting to fall. He felt terrible that a small girl like her had to be going through pain, and he wanted it to stop.

                He got up from the chair, dug into his pocket for his blue and white handkerchief and then used it to wipe his tears away. He didn’t want them to see him crying. Unfortunately, his nose was still pink-ish, the edges of his eyeballs were still slightly dilated and the skin around his eyes was pink-ish red. As you can probably imagine, when he knocked on the door and Batu Cave mamee opened it, everyone instantly knew that he had been crying.

                “Is it finished?” Rajaratnam asked.

                “No, he just finished with the first ear.” Batu Cave mamee said as she tried to hide the smirk on her face and Chinnapu and Rajeswari giggled in the background.

                “Is she ok?” He asked when he saw her sniffing continuously.

                “She’s fine. You don’t need to worry!”

                Rajaratnam walked away from the door and slouched back to the red plastic chair. He gulped down saliva and buried his head inside his hands as he heard another thunderous scream blasting through the walls. More tears began to fall. He sobbed quietly and occasionally used the handkerchief to blow his running nose.

                When she finally came out, he carried her up high and wiped the small puddles of tears that formed underneath her eyes.  He was relieved that she was now out of that room and his only concern was that she was ok. Throughout the ride he asked her if she was experiencing any pain and this continued until the next morning.


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