Chapter 9 (February 10th, 2011)

I spent the whole day curled up on the window seat with that new Danielle Steel book. Didn't get around to much reading because I was so caught up in my tattoo. Stroking it over and over, reliving the prickling pain of the needle across my ankle.

Raju called in at 12:30 and brought some Chinese Chop Suey with him, bought from our usual Indian-Chinese haunt. It was steaming, fragrant and full of vegetables. The crispy noodles crunched as we bit into them. We watched some inane Hindi sitcom as we ate.

Then my mother called, so he left so I could talk so her 'in peace'. Conversations with my mother were never peaceful because she didn't approve of my decision to leave London. More like 'fraught with disapproval'. Still, I appreciated Raju's efforts.

"So?" she asked by way of a greeting.

"I'm not married yet," I told her flatly. She hung up on me.

Two minutes later, she called back. This time, she demanded, "Have you been eating?"

Yes, Ma, I told her. Took a bite of noodles and crunched them loudly to prove it.

She said that Anmol had been asking after me. I couldn't even muster up a shred of care. Anmol, as far as I was concerned, so far in my past that he should be included in ancient history books.

But I dutifully passed on a message via Mom Direct.

This time in India has been good for me. I'll be back soon.

It was short, curt, and Ma was not satisfied. It was also a lie, but what Ma didn't know wouldn't kill her.

I made some excuse about the doorbell ringing. Then I hung up. I continued stroking my tattoo, wondering what my mother would say if she saw it.

At that point, I realised I actually didn't care. It was my tattoo. No one else would ever have one like it. I had made a conscious decision to get tattooed and no one - no one could deny that it had been good for me.