Skip to main content

A quick tale 154


It all started when Prakash Rao was at the doctor's clinic. He was standing with his back to the wall and a young nurse, perched on a chair next to him was marking his height on the wall. Prakash was there to get a doctor's certificate, necessary for a life insurance policy. His blood pressure was a normal 120 over 80, his weight a satisfactory 63 kilos and barring a mild case of halitosis, Prakash was his very good health for his 34 years of age. He was pleasantly distracted by the nurse's bosoms which were brushing against his face when he heard her call out, "five feet eight inches."

That can't be right. "Five feet eight inches", repeated the doctor as he wrote it down on his letter pad. Prakash stepped back to look at the faint marking on the wall and the nurse was right. It was a whisper short of five feet eight inch mark on the height chart stuck to the wall. Surely something must be wrong with the chart, he thought. With all these imperial and metric measurements and conversions, Prakash was convinced that they had got it wrong. How else do you explain his height coming down a massive three inches!

For as long as he could remember, Prakash had been five feet eleven inches tall. His passport said so. His tailor would say so too, if he didn't just bother with measuring Prakash's legs. In fact, he remembered once when his newly-wed wife Hema had described him to a friend on the phone. "Nearly six feet tall", he had heard her say and he had walked around on his toes all afternoon.

A man cannot just lose three inches of his height. It was like waking up one morning and finding your arm gone. Or finding that the face in the mirror is not one you recognise. Prakash was getting used to the new reality of his life that he drove home from the clinic distracted. He had barely stepped into the house when Hema demanded, "Did you remember to buy coconut? I knew you would forget it. Lalli athai's daughter Jalaja will be here any moment and I will not have finished cooking. Would you do this if this was one of your relatives?"

Prakash pleaded headache and went straight to his room clutching his head. Could he be shrinking? Had his old age already begun? What next? Would he start losing hair and teeth and memory soon? Would he have to start buying insoles? He would certainly have to stop Hema wearing those high heels. For he can't be shorter than his wife!

The afternoon passed by in a blur. Jalaja and her husband Sarvesh were saying something about buying a flat and the difficulty in getting school admission for their daughter. Prakash discreetly checked out Sarvesh's height as they got up to leave. Sarvesh was a good inch or two shorter than him and Prakash liked him instantly.

He decided that from then on, he would divide the world into those who were taller than him and those he liked. He was still making up his mind when heard Hema call out, "Listen! Can you help me get the plastic box from the top almirah? I want to pack some sweets for Jalaja."

He stopped frowning for a moment. A smile spread across his face as he raised himself on his toes and called out, "Coming dear".


rohit said…
This creeps me out. All this while I thought I was 5'11'' and I couldn't beleive it when the nurse announced that I was 5'9'' when I went for the physical last week.
ggop said…
Sweet story. I saw a movie where the lead actor had a similar complex called Main meri patni or woh.
dogmatix said…
ggop said it. U HAVE to watch that movie. It is absa F****ing lutely hillarious. Reminded me of some of the good old Hrishikesh Mukherjee (RIP) movies.
Banana said…
This wasn't a short one ammani? Rather a tall one :-)
Dadoji said…
I think Prakash's 3 inches were annexed by Ammani's quick tale. ;-)
Oh men and their issues with height!I keep telling my husband he's shorter than one of my friends and till date he hasn't agreed with me :)
apu said…
Ammani, how do you think of these tall tales :))
Anonymous said…
you fuckin bitch... I hate you.
Shyam said…
heh, I like Prakash Rao - at least he's honest! I like that he makes a conscious decision to divide people into those he likes and those who're taller tham him! :) Usually that sort of instant dislike is attributed to "gut instinct" by people who are unaware of their subconscious reason (or who are unwilling to give the real reason).
Prakash Rao said…
Ok, I give up. How did Ammani do this? Maybe somebody can help me out there. Otherwise, this is too freaky.

I have seen webpages that display your name automatically based on your Windows login and such. I thought maybe this story uses my blogger id to figure out my name and age. So I log out from, but the name and age remained the same.

I even went to a different PC (where I have never logged onto my blogger account), but the name and age are still the same!

-Prakash Rao, Age 34, Height (I claim 5'10", health checks usually peg me at 5'11"!)

P.S: Looked at the comments section. I see dadoji mention just 'Prakash'. If the short story really uses blogger id, how did it automatically truncate at my first name?
:) as a vertically challenged person i loved this!

And hey anonymous - suck an egg moron.
noon said…
Goodvone Ammani! Nanna irundhudhakam! I too like to round of my height to the next higher number! :) As you can tell am in the shorty club!
Hip Grandma said…
"Did you remember to buy coconut? I knew you would forget it. Lalli athai's daughter Jalaja will be here any moment and I will not have finished cooking. Would you do this if this was one of your relatives."

Famous one liner.has been around for generations!Ha!Ha!HA!
nice story.
prakash said…
Ammani really picked my name, and correct age! And almost my correct height and weight too! Doesn't like the QT used my blogger id, as I initially suspected.

How weird is that ...
Shumit said…
Did post a comment on your marathon post...join us for our next run.
Gayathri said…
I fail to comprehend, to this day, why men are so obssessed about their heights. A friend of mine claims to be 1 inch taller than me. In reality, he's just 5'4"!!! But, I find some men taller than they actually are. Maybe because of their springy hair ;-)
Madura said…
Strangely I am reminded of my weight and its expansion and the after moods of its measurement! :) I definitely like my husband's relatives who are fatter than me. Man I realized it now! :) ... Is that too bad?
itchingtowrite said…
they do say that tall men & slim women have an advantage on the job front. hence the obsessions!! & yes I do say people don't make fun of those who are fat
harry said…
Hi All,

For all you folks in the US, here is a new option for
getting the cheapest fares to fly back to India for
your visits.Its a new technology online fare
consolidator called Cfares -

I signed up for their platinum membership, and it’s an awesome deal!!! I traveled from NYC to New Delhi.. and compared to my regular travel agent, I saved $584!! Compare that to my old rate of $1,394.. I paid just over $800 for my ticket!!
Ask everyone to register using this URL… the platinum membership is paid, but for what you’ll want to sign up..


You Might Also Like

Voicing Silence 1

There is no nice way of saying this so I will say it as brutally and as unvarnished as it needs to be said. I was sexually assaulted when I was ten and a half years old. While I recall the precise details of what happened that night, much of what happened in the immediate aftermath, I have little memory of. In the days and months that followed, I became increasingly angry. I would smash things, kick people, yell, scream and throw a tantrum at the drop of a hat. I was labelled difficult and called names. Rakshasi was a regular epithet and it clung to me like an dirty scent.

There were so many incidents of rage from those years and most involved destruction of some sort. I once lost a card game and went about meticulously ripping up an entire pack of cards much to the amusement of the gathered extended family. There was some other minor provocation which ended in a lovely red dress which was a gift from abroad being shredded to pieces, again to a mute audience

Word got around that I wa…

Voicing Silence 7

(To get a background on this series, I suggest you start with the first post here and then scroll up)

Headphones recommended

(Click on image for link or click here)
Written and narrated by  Abhi Arumbakkam
Animation and edit  Lucy Lee
Sound Louise Brown
Music Nefeli Stammatogianopoulu & Stelios Koupetoris

Sivaji, Jayalaitha And Us

I first noticed it when Sivaji Ganesan passed away. As someone born in the 70s, much of my growing years was marked by the rituals of Sunday evening Tamizh cinema and Friday night Oliyum Oliyum. And Sivaji Ganesan was a permanent fixture in them. Anyone who was melodramatic was a 'Sivaji' and rhymes like 'Sivaji vayile jilebi' were very much part of our book of nonsense rhymes.

So much so, I remember being fourteen and being part of the school drama team enacting a popular scene from Sivaji's Thiruvilayadal. It was a plum role that we all vied to play. Sivaji played Lord Shiva in the movie and in our minds, he might as well have been immortal. So years later, when news broke that he had died, I was in utter shock. Heck, I was not even a fan. Apart from Motor Sundaram Pillai and more recently, Thevar Magan, in every one of his movies, I felt Sivaji had outacted the entire cast. As if to tell the producers, you've paid me a lot, so let me give you your money'…

Tide - 17

Part - 17 “Are you waiting for me, Kamakshi?”, asked Padmaja a little breathless from climbing the stair case. She had never been particularly slim. But lately, she had noticed a tightening of her blouses, particularly around her upper arm that she taken to using the stairs over the lift.
“Hmm? Everything okay? Why do you want me to keep quiet? What is the matter, Kamakshi?”, Padmaja reeled off questions with mounting alarm.
“It's nothing”, hissed Kamakshi between gritted teeth guiding her neighbour by the arm away from her own door. “Come in to my house. I need to tell you something, Padmaja”.
And once inside, Kamakshi's behaviour was even more erratic. She said something about a letter and answering and now meeting someone and the man waiting for her at home.
“Where?”, demanded Padmaja.
Kamakshi silently pointed her finger at her neighhour.
“Where? In my house?”
Kamakshi nodded.
“Have you gone mad, Kamakshi? I gave you the keys in case you don't see me for days a…

What Would You Do?

This afternoon, I went to our local leisure centre to use their steam room and sauna. I had an hour to kill before it was time to collect my son and the leisure centre is across the road and I couldn't think of a better way to spend a tenner and so I went. No sooner had I settled into a corner of the steam room than I heard a voice ask me, 'are you from India?'. Yes, I nodded before it struck me that if I couldn't see the person clearly neither could he. Yes, I said. To this he (by now I could make out a dim outline of a man) volunteered in a very heavy accent 'My country Bangladesh' and then went on to ask me if I lived locally and if I was living with my family (yes and yes, I answered) and told me that he worked in a local Indian restaurant as a chef and that I should visit them if I hadn't already.

Having exhausted his arsenal of polite questions to ask a rank stranger, he fell silent. Shortly, I left the steam room to take a shower before dipping into…

Tide - 7

Part 7

Dear Mrs,
With regards to your advertisement in last Sunday's Hindu. My name is Mr.S.G.Santhanam. I am 65 years old. I retired in 2007 after 40 years of service in the Indian Railways. My daughter and my son are both married and settled abroad. I am in good health except for slightly high blood pressure. Last year I have undergone an operation for a growth in my retina and now my eyesight is better than it has ever been. I follow a strict vegetarian diet (no oinions no garlic) and I have managed to bring down my cholestrol levels also. Recently I have suffered from pain in my hips and my doctor has adviced me to go for a hip replacement operation which I am due to have some time in the next month. So if you reply to my letter, I can arrange to meet you before I check in to the hospital as I will have to be in bed rest for 6 weeks after my operation. I have also attached a photo of myself with this letter. This was taken before I had my new set of teeth.
Your's sincere…

Voicing Silence 4

(To get a background to this series of posts, I suggest you read the first one here, the second one here and the third one here)

Some years ago, my mother mentioned to me that she had attended my sexual assaulter's Sashtiabdapoorthy and I was appalled. This filthy beast was a pillar of the society and had had the temerity to invite my parents to its (no human pronoun for it) birthday celebration. Suffice to say I was apoplectic.

It was also around this time that the whole sordid episode of Jimmy Savile came to light and I had a thought. I began to wonder if I could take my abuser to court on historic sex abuse charges.

For days I fantasised about dragging the filthy piece of shit to court and have it look me in the eye as I would recall in graphic detail what it had done to me. Then, I would watch with glee as it lost its house, its job, its status in the society and delight in the gradual unravelling of its life.

I would have my perfect revenge. I would be able to show it that i…

Voicing Silence 3

(To get a background to this series of posts, I suggest you read the first one here and the second one here.)

In the intervening years since my assault, the whispers grew ubiquitous. Hushed conversations from scarred friends who all talked in coded language about what had happened to them. I should have stopped becoming angry but I just couldn't. Instead I channeled all my rage into the blows I rained on the random stranger who once groped me as I was walking past him one evening when I was in my early twenties. The nonchalance with which another pervert thought he could get away with pinching my breasts made me chase after him faster. But I could rarely sustain the rage which would blaze fiercely and frequently but never long enough for anything positive to emerge. There were no planned course of action to follow through, it was largely fire fighting on a daily basis.

And then something happened a decade ago which reminded me of what triggered my anger all those years ago. I won…

Voicing Silence 2

(To get a background to this series of posts, I suggest you read the first one here)

I realised, almost instinctively that what had happened to me was not a one-off. A casual conversation with a cousin revealed that she too had been touched by the same person. She didn't give me details but all she said was, "that one, him, you know...he's a devil" and gave me an almost imperceptible nod. A secret code that meant that she knew about what had happened to me too. It was our shared language of shame, wrapped in silence and consigned to the deep recess of our minds.

Every now and then the incident would get an airing but I would almost dismiss it by making light of it. During joint studies with classmates from the 11th and 12th standard, two of them talked about the improper touching that had happened to them as children with an almost casual aloofness that I added my incident (for it was now entombed and labelled as Exhibit A in my mind) to the mix. Being abused was so…

Voicing Silence 5

(To get a background to this series of posts, I suggest you read the first one here, the second one here, the third one here and the fourth here)

For years I had been wondering how to articulate my trauma. And then, a little while after I'd moved to the UK, I'd done courses in documentary film-making and had started telling factual stories. Could there be a possibility there? What purpose would retelling a personal story in all its gory detail serve? And is this what I wanted?

In 2013 I watched Yael Farber's Nirbhaya in Edinburgh to an auditorium full of sobbing men and women. I found its portrayal in all its attendant specifics and bit too real. Even the actors playing it had each suffered horrific abuse and it was their own story that was being told. It was discomfiting and I knew I didn't want to go down that route.

A year or so later, I met with Leslie Udwin, director of the documentary India's Daughter, the day
after it had been banned in India. Leslie was de…