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A quick tale 194

We were awkward at first but soon we were talking

How is it? she asks me. What? I demand even though I know exactly what she is referring to. Living abroad. What's it like? she asks again. She's always been like this. Wanting to know everything about you. There's a child like curiousity about her. That you almost forgive the intrusive nature of her questions. She hasn't changed much in the 17 years since I saw her last. Yes, there's the grey hair and the roundness that comes with motherhood. But other than that, she still reminds me of the best friend she once was to me. Which is probably why I spotted her straightaway at the airport yesterday. She had come to receive her brother and I was arriving on my biennial visit to my homeland. We were awkward at first but soon we were talking as if there had just been one long gap in our conversation.

I had married straight after college and had not really bothered to stay in touch with friends. Not even my best friend. So we had a lot to catch up. She suggested that we meet today. I stir my coffee and look up at her. She's still waiting for me to answer. Do I tell her about the crippling loneliness? Or the rounds of failed IVF? Do I tell about the fear the grips me whenever the phone goes off in the middle of the night? Do I confide in her my almost constant worry about aged parents left behind? I lower my eyes and watch the coffee swirl. It's good, I tell her. Life is good. I can feel the warmth of her envy as I lift my cup to my lips. I take a satisfactory sip.

Comments

sree said…
to be human is to err is the new philo, right? too true your quick tales are. can't you feel the warmth of jealousy swirling up from this post?
Rupa said…
"Life is good" - the most corrupted cliche?

Thats well brought in the quick tale!
Nice :)
Deepa said…
Baley! Very nice.
Balaji S Rajan said…
Short and sweet. Very natural.
Goda Ramkumar said…
Your narrating style is awesome...I almost became that person while reading it....
Vijay said…
now i am wondering who that friend might be .. Lalitha( i think she had a brother), not nandhini, hmm don't know.. 17yrs since we met actually the last time we saw shud have been in 1992 ..
Anonymous said…
why no new posts

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Bio-data

Married for 31 years, 2 months and 17 days
Six cups coffee a day, brewed everyday of marriage
Three meals a day,
At least two dishes cooked, each meal-time
One snack for every Sunday
Big basket of clothes ironed every Tuesday
Average 18 items of clothing washed per day
Three children
1 miscarriage
One mother-in-law suffered
900 sq metre of floor space mopped, once a day
One caesarean endured
3 chicken poxes, 2 measles, 2 fractures, 8 diarrhoeas, depression, conjunctivitis every summer, 1 tonsilitis and countless common colds and flues
1 job held for 29 years
6 hours slept every night
Sex tolerated every 2nd week
Religious rituals everyone of them, carried out
Not one of them, believed in
Lived 52 years and some
Died exhausted

Overheard, “At least she had the satisfaction of having lived for her family”


http://jikku.blogspot.com/2005/02/quick-tale-3.html#c111042815438237631

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"Now that I'm fifty-seven",
My mother used to say,
"Why should I waste a minute?
Why should I waste a day

Doing the things I ought to
Simply because I should?
Now that I'm fifty-seven
I'm done with that for good."

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Trapped in some thankless chore
Just as she might have been at
Fifty-three or fifty-four

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(And I have to bite my tongue)
That if you mean to learn a skill
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For fifty, I've begun
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