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Showing posts from June, 2005

A quick tale 41


“I was just about to call you”, he’d say whenever she rang. Even if he hadn’t called in days. And she’d have been sleeping next to the phone. Just in case.

A quick tale 40

A conversation

There are two friends. Let’s call them A and B.
A tells B, “You won’t guess what he bought me for my birthday”
“Go on, tell, tell”, coaxed B.
“A diamond ring”
“Cannot be bigger than the one my man got me for our anniversary.”
“Was it this big?” asked A, keeping her fingers apart some two inches.
“Bigger. And this year I know it’ll be better.”
“Aren’t we lucky?” A exclaimed.
They both nodded dreamily. It was their turn to get off the bus. And back to a dusty old home and children with runny noses.

A quick tale 39

Nick name

She had a secret name for the men in her office. Based on how they sneezed. The head clerk was horse. Senior accountant was chihuahua (that’s the sound he made). Manager was wolf. Deputy manager sloth. Honestly, she had no clue how sloths sneezed. He was such a slob, that’s why.

A quick tale 38

Where the heart is

They built houses, had children and became citizens of this new country. But home was still an old place where mosquitoes bred in abundance and children slept next to their mothers

A quick tale 37


"What do you want to be when you grow up?", they asked her.
She looked around. Amma carrying a pan of sand on her head. Appa hammering away at rocks. Her younger sister playing in filthy mud dangerously close to the building that her parents were helping build.
What did she want to be when she grew up? Not this. Definitely.

A quick tale 36

A weekly chat

“Hello, it’s me. What time is it over there now? Must be lunchtime. What did you cook? Did the little one eat? Don’t give him chunky vegetables. He’s too young to chew. Mash it well. Your grandmother used to mash food with her fingers before feeding you both. Amma is fine. Yes, she takes her medicines regularly. Her arthritis is less painful. Don't worry, her blood pressure is under control also. I’ve started going for morning walks now. Doctor says it is good for health. You know how I like to keep myself busy. I stop by at the temple on my way back. I only pray to God that He keep all my children happy. And now I’ve started praying for my grandson also. Is that him crying? Why is he crying? You better attend to him first. We’ll talk next Sunday. Take care, my child.”

For Appa.

A quick tale 35

Age concern

She was one of the girls that looked older than her age. At 13, she was mistaken for a 20-year old. At 25, they asked her if she was 30. At 38, they thought she was her son’s grandmother.
One day while filling up a form, she lied about her age. Said she was 58 instead of the actual 43. The clerk looked up and exclaimed how young she looked.

A quick tale 34


She looks at photos taken ten years ago and exclaims how young she looked back then. How soft and uncreased, her skin. No sign of worry and how carefree!
And she will look again, many years from now, at a photo taken today and say the same thing.

A quick tale 33


This is a story about a girl who wrote stories. Her tales were full of quirky people who lead dramatic lives. Those who read them had wonderful things to say about her words. Then one day she wrote about herself. And no one had much to say. Her life was not that interesting anyway.

A quick tale 32

A question of love

All her friends fell in love and married their lovers. Her parents found her a match. For a while she wondered why no one had ever loved her enough to ask her to marry him. But soon got over it. The man she married made a good husband. They had children and grew old together. This must be love then, she told herself.

A quick tale 31


It was her father’s favourite time of the week - Sunday mornings. He would open the paper, skim through the news and skip straight to the matrimonial columns. He’d sit in the front verandah, sifting through every single advertisement, circling suitable ones for future reference. Once he’d read all the ads, he would retreat to his room to write letters to the earmarked advertisers. He would place a carbon sheet under a paper, draw a tiny ‘2’ on top – a salutation to Lord Ganesha and begin writing. All his letters began the same way - ‘Dear Sir, With reference to your advertisement in the Hindu dated…’

Once finished, he would remove his copy and place it in a file marked ‘Marriage correspondence’. He would then dab turmeric stains on all four corners of the original, fold it in two, attach his daughter’s horoscope and place both sheets of paper on the altar where his mother’s photo would be hanging. Later, he would take the envelopes to the city main post office – the only one ope…


The trousers are outgrown, the bed’s too small, old photos talk of a time when he was just a baby. I just don’t remember when he grew up.

A quick tale 29


She spotted it on a regular morning inspection of her face. It was perched quietly on her nose like a mischievous child. The longer she stared at it the bigger it grew. Soon it had become so big that it was taking over the face. So when she looked in the mirror, she didn’t notice the beguiling eyes, dimpled cheek, lips that curled up, smooth fall of a chin. Only the bump stood out.

And when she stepped out into the world, everyone seemed to be looking at it. Every whisper was a taunt, every look a stare. She didn’t realise they each had their pimples to think about.

A quick tale 27


She had her mother’s eyes, father’s forehead, an aunt’s liking for pickles, grandfather’s temper, youngest uncle’s charm and a third cousin’s talent for turning eyelids inside out. Her bad luck, however, was her own.

A quick tale 26


“Place a brinjal under each armpit and pull out three strands of hair from your head. After some months, you’ll have a baby.”
Many years later she would remember her cousin's sagely answer to her question on procreation. How she wished things were as simple now.