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Showing posts from March, 2006

A quick tale 120

For a young girl who recently made a remark about my age.

Eww, I can see her making a face. Wrinkling her nose in disgust. Old women! Yewww! They smell, she thinks. And they got chin on their hair. And they can't control their bladder very well. I know an old woman, she tells her friends, who hauls up her boobs over her shoulder much like a sari pallu. Old women, she says while shuddering involuntarily, have ugly bottoms. They wear lumpy underwear. Old women, she confides at an uncharitable moment, should be banished. Better still, she adds as an afterthought, old women should be made to suffer each other. She collapses with laughter at the thought of withered ladies huddled together like penguins to keep each other warm.

Bah! I tell you this, young lady. Someday, you too will lose your firm skin and start wearing Tena Lady. Some day, I bet, some day.

A quick tale 119

A lift home

It is one of those rare occasions when he is in a car with someone he barely knows. She had offered to drop him home because it was on her way. And he accepted. Now there's 45 minutes of journey time to be filled with conversation. He starts off by thanking her very much for the offer. Oh it's nothing, she dismisses. And that's the end of that. So he sits trying to think of another conversation starter. Her work. How long has she been at the job, he asks. 18 months. And before that? She used to be in a different job. Oh, ok. And what was that, he wonders. Same thing, she says. Oh, ok. And why did she leave her earlier job? The boss harrassed me. He is sorry to hear that. More silence follows.

Should he ask her about her family? May be something less personal. Perhaps cricket. Or politics. Or reality tv. He looks up and remarks how terrible the weather is. Yes, she nods, terrible weather indeed. Nice shoes, he says. Yeah, thanks. I've always liked good shoes…

A quick tale 118

Remembering mother

Some nights I wake up wondering if your nose was as I remember it. Sharp and defined. I remember you used to tie your wispy thin hair with a string stripped from the bark of a banana tree. I used to pull it to annoy you. 'As if I have 6 feet of hair for you to play with! Go away', you would rebuke me while re-tying the sad bunch into an indistinct bundle. And your voice. A while ago, I was worried that I was starting to forget the sound of your voice. But one day, out-of-the-blue, I remembered the children's rhyme you used to sing. Something about running squirrels and yellow pumpkins. I recalled your voice in an instant.

When I look at myself in the mirror these days, I compare my reflection with your photo. Same eyes, nose. And when I brush back my hair, I can see where I get my broad forehead from. Funnily enough, I never inherited your love for coffee. They say that you used to run through the back door to your mother's house for an extra gulp. Did…

A quick tale 117

A plan

Atchoo! she will sneeze as soon as she sights him and then proceed to blow her nose loudly into a tissue. That should bring him to her table. If it doesn't, she will go on to moan and groan in a low voice. That should do the trick. And once he comes over, he is bound to enquire about her health. I'm okay, she will whisper in a feeble tone. But he will not be convinced. So he will ask her again how she was really feeling. To be honest, she will begin, my head feels like it is being pounded by a million little red hot hammers. And my body...she will pause unable to continue. She will wipe an imaginary tear from her eye. He will nod like he understands. I know, he will say, I felt the same last week. You must have caught the flu bug from me. I should never have forced you try the soup from my plate. I'm so sorry. He will shake his head several times in contrition. Why don't you go home today? he will offer. But there's so much work to be done, she will sound dis…

A quick tale 116

A bit of a nonsense story

He always felt embarrassed when he used the word itinerary. Like laughing at someone's funeral. Or remembering a dirty joke during Physics class. Or fancying your best friend's wife. He could never bring himself to say the word. Why couldn't it just be schedule? Or timetable? Why itinerary? Was it Eye-tinerary? Or It-in-erary? He could never decide. And the 'rary' at the end was positively vulgar. And suddenly, the word seemed to crop up everywhere. On holiday brochures. Guide books. Rock star tour dates. World cup football matches. Everyone seemed to have an itinerary. Heck, even his 8-year old son was given one before he went on a school trip. What's with the word? What's with the world? Itinerary this. Itinerary that.

He'd had enough. So one day, he took a pair of black markers and went around town striking out the word wherever he saw it. He would go into libraries, search out dictionaries and black out the word and its defin…

A quick tale 115


It sat in front of her, wrapped in shiny, gold paper. With a little red satin bow perched on top. It sat in front of her, like an obedient little girl.
Go on, open it.
She stared at it.
Go on.
She had never been given a gift like this before.
Aren't you curious?
Sometimes her gift would come in a plastic bag.
Oh, c'mon. Open it.
Sometimes it'd just be handed to her. Unwrapped and naked.
Don't you want to know what I got for you?
But often, nothing.
If you don't open it, I will.
She couldn't take her eyes off it.
A hand drew the little box away from her and started to peel the layers of wrapping. She looked away, somehow it didn't feel right to stare.
Stripped of its sheltering, the gift was thrust in front of her.
Like it?
Shiny, ornate, pretty, nude. A jewellery box or something equally unnecessary. She wished the mystery had lasted a little longer.
Love it.

A quick tale 114

At around 5 one afternoon

It has been a bad day so far and you just heard on the news that British Gas is hiking its prices again and that every minute another 100 hectares of tropical rain forests are cleared to make way for commercial crop. You start tuning the car radio when you hear an old pop song. Something silly about love that lasts till the end of time. You hate the song and you hate what is happening to the world and its rising gas prices. You wonder what's the point of eternal love if you have to pay exorbitant bills. Where do you go with love that lasts forever and ever if there's no world in the first place because the environment is fucked up? And all that news about Irish priests abusing children. And people being killed because they did not like a certain cartoon. And George Bush. And now this song about immortal love.

With the song ringing in your ears and spinning in your head, you get out of the car. It's pouring outside and you walk aimlessly. Crying for …

A quick tale 113

A letter

Last night I lay awake thinking about you. Wondering where you are right now. Perhaps married. With kids. May be a daughter? Is she the same age now as I was when I met you? 11? Do you worry about what happens to her when she travels by bus? Or walks home from school? Or gets stopped on the road by someone asking her for directions? For you must know what happens to girls in public. How they get fondled. Their breasts touched and squeezed and pinched. How they get rubbed against. From the back. By strangers who press themselves against young girls. Leaving an ugly impression on their minds. Confusing the girls. Who are too young to understand what is happening to them. Too young to have the words to explain to others. Leaving them feeling ashamed and dirty.
Do you accompany your daughter when she goes to tuition class?Do you tell her to carry an umbrella with her no matter what the weather? Do you tell her why?
Do you lay awake at nights wondering about the girl you touched all …

A quick tale 112


‘This came for you by this afternoon’s post’, said the elderly neighbour handing her a parcel. She thanked him and was about to leave when the old man said ‘it seems rather bulky’.
‘It was quite heavy when the postman gave it to me’, he continued.
‘He was about to leave when he found your apartment locked. I offered to take it in for you’
‘Thank you for doing that’
‘Is there anything breakable inside?’
‘No, no’
‘It’s a little late for a Christmas present’
‘Unless it’s your birthday or something’
‘No, no’
‘It’s from the USA…it says so on the package’
‘Must be expensive. The postage cost’
‘I used to send blood pressure medicines to my brother in England. The stamps used to cost more than the medicines itself’
‘You look tired. Would you like me to carry the package for you till your door?’
‘No, no, I’m fine’
‘Look, they’ve misspelt your name on the package. Two As instead of one’
‘I don’t know how they managed to wrap it so well’
‘The package has travelled half way across t…