All the Thoughts Swirling Through Your Head
At the age of six, Roma has been left home alone while her parents are off somewhere "fixing things".
She'd always thought to fix something meant that it was broken and needed to be put back together with tape. Like, for example, a month ago, her favorite doll's head fell off due to excessive catfights between her and the other dolls, and then her father fixed it, giving her the doll back with a smile and a pat to her head. She also thought that "things" meant people didn't want to tell you want those things were.
But she thinks she knows.
Her parents have been arguing on-and-off for the last few months horribly. And this month, it has only become more frequent.
So those are the things.
However, Roma also knows one thing that it seemed nobody else did: nothing can be fixed - not fully anyway. The tape isn't ever strong enough. Her doll had fallen apart and had been thrown away just yesterday.
She sits in her room, holding the remains of her doll, trying once again to push the head back on permanently. A knock comes on the door, and when Roma doesn't respond, ten-year-old Ramesh steps in. It seems like he is back early from wherever he's been.
Wordlessly, he sits down next to Roma and wraps his arms around his little sister. After a while, she leans back into him, comforted by his presence.
That comfort quickly evaporates an hour later, when policemen at the door tell her that her parents are no longer alive.
Ramesh is crying silently on the couch, but Roma just clutches her second-best doll until this one falls apart as well.
At the age of fifteen, Roma watches Ramesh come home every night after midnight, at the very least. She watches his drug-addict friends drive away each time.
She always pretends that she's fallen asleep on the couch while doing homework, but she knows he's never fallen for it. But both of them have yet to say anything, so it doesn't matter. Except, of course, it does.
She tells herself that it is just a phase. He'll get over it. Because, despite it all, he is still her loving, perfect older brother.
Until the one night he never comes back.
She stays up, watching at the window again until a car pulls up at six in the morning.
But this time, instead of secondhand motocycles, it is a much sleeker and faster car which slowly rolls to a stop in front of the building, despite the fact that Roma is devotedly wishing under her breath that it won't, that it will roll smoothly on.
She hopes until she sees Ramesh come out of the passenger seat.
And then she runs to her room, for once planning to lose sleep in her own bed.
At the age of nineteen, Roma looks on happily as boisterous Kamini, the tutor who'd forced a friend out of her, finally coerces Ramesh into talking to a girl besides herself.
And for once, she sees a smile and a blush spread across his face as Kamini asks him if it would be too bold of her to ask him out.
That joy she's gained for the first time in years quickly disintegrates later that night as she sees Ramesh dialing an all-too-familiar number.
Later that night, while going through Ramesh's phone, she finds out his name.
At the age of twenty, Roma watches as all her classmates apply and get accepted to colleges and universities.
When asked, she says she's given up on college, that it doesn't hold the least attraction for her. Ramesh argues with her over it for months on end. It's not like they don't have the money. It's just that Roma would rather die than use that money.
Only Kamini understands.
Roma hates what's happened to Kamini. She's become too sober, her eyes too dull. She wishes that Ramesh would man up and leave it all romantically for Kamini and that they'll finally get their well-deserved happily ever after.
But things can never go easy for them, now can they?
To escape her classmates's smug looks and Kamini's haunted eyes, Roma goes to the gym. Every single day. She learns every martial art she possibly can through library books and observing the trainers, and she takes out all her frustration on the punching bags.
Because if there's one thing she's learned, it is to be prepared for anything at all.
At the age of twenty-three, Roma watches Ramesh slip that ring onto Kamini's slender finger and finally cries.
She's proud to say that the first time she's cried since she was a baby is out of happiness. At the gym, a week later, Kamini calls with the best news Roma's ever gotten in her life.
Ramesh is leaving his job with Don.
On her twenty-fourth birthday, Roma is sitting on the stairs inside Ramesh's house, tears falling down her cheeks for what she vows will be the last time.
Ramesh is dead. Kamini is dead.
And it's all his fault.
And Roma has finally found something worth living for - revenge.