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A quick tale 205

Story half-told

Did you know that prisoners serving life sentence are not given a mirror because they could commit suicide with it? No, she didn’t know either. Until she read about it in a short story recently. It really got her thinking. In the house where she grew up, there was no full-length mirror until 1970. She was already 20 years old by then and had outgrown the adolescent curiosity to see herself as others saw her.

All those years ago, there was only a small square mirror that hung in a dark verandah. The mirror bounced off light from the bulb that hung across the wall thus casting a shadow on the reflection. You had to lift the square frame off the wall and hold it at an angle if you wanted to know if you’d shaved properly or if the maii in the right eye was smudged slightly. This was a trick that only residents in that rambling household knew. And visitors often asked others to check if the pottu was in the centre of the forehead or if the face powder was still a bit patchy.

Looking back, she thought it odd that she’d never wanted to see her full-length reflection. Though that’s strictly not true. She forgets that sometime in 1966 when she’d worn a saree for the first time, she removed the mirror from its hanging post, held it against knee, tipped slightly away from her body so she could see the reflection, and gradually drew it all the way up to her neck. Later she had tried to piece together all the reflections into a single collage in her head. She had even made a mention of it in her diary that night.

In the house where she now lives, there’s a few of them mirrors. But after all these years, even now, the sight of herself, especially when she’s least expecting it - like when she wakes up in the middle of the night to use the toilet – startles her. She has trouble falling asleep afterwards. For a long time she had only known her body as it appeared to her from where her eyes stood. The familiar terrain of lumps and bumps and the reassuring patch of curlies did not seem so odd when gazed down from the neck. But the two-dimensional vision of her, as seen from a distance took a lot of getting used to. Of course, she had seen photos of herself. But a live, moving likeness was something she found hard to accept.

And this is where the story will end as I have nothing more to say on this matter.


rads said…
Very nicely pieced :)

Reminded me of Salman Rushdie's desc of the grandfather falling in love with his grandma - in bits - in the book Midnight's children :)
Ram said…
Well, this story is a great example of
PIN said…
A great story. In reality, some ppl have trouble coping up with growing technology. Nice post. A fan I am now

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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
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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”

The Saturday Poem

Found this in yesterday's paper. Again, I wish I'd written it.


Now and Then

"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."

But now and then I'd catch her
Trapped in some thankless chore
Just as she might have been at
Fifty-three or fifty-four

And I would say to her
(And I have to bite my tongue)
That if you mean to learn a skill
It's well worth starting young

And so, to make sure I'm in time
For fifty, I've begun
To do exactly as I please
Now that I'm thirty-one.

-Sophie Hannah

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To a little boy

It cannot be easy being you. A follow-up act to your more devilishly charming, flamboyant older brother. Before you were born, I was convinced that no child could ever take the special place your brother had come to occupy in my life. I used to argue with your father you would always be a second-born. A runner-up. A bridesmaid (or a best-man, as you turned out to be). That you could never be the prized, cherished, celebrated apple of my eye that my firstborn child was. But how easily you tore down my flimsy little conviction. The minute I saw you, I knew I was gone. What was worse, I succumbed willingly.

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I ask, you write

Okay, here's the idea. I ask you a question and you write a short story explaining it. Let me give you an example.

What happened when young Padmavathi was drawing water from the well to wash her clothes, early one Margazhi morning?

Annon's story

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After marrying Padmavathi, he is inviting all of you to a water drawing ceremony at the new well they dug in their house.

Jai Ragothaman Iyengar! Jai Padmavathi! Come one, Come all!


Here's a question for you.

What happened that made young Meenakshi change her mind about the parrot green saree she had originally chosen and go for a …