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Part 1

She knows even before she has opened the wrapping paper what is inside it. Rattling the box confirms her suspicion. It is an alarm clock. Just the like the one the school had presented Vijaya teacher when she retired and to Lakshmi teacher before her. They had organised a small function in the school assembly hall for her. The headmistress, Lalitha teacher had given a brief talk and presented her with the gift-wrapped box. No one was sure what was supposed to happen next. So Lalitha teacher suggested that they sing the national anthem which they did.

There was not much to take home with her. A few books, some old photos, a couple of birthday cards and that was about it. Lalitha teacher asked her to look after herself and promised to keep her informed if the school needed any help. As ever, Pazhani was waiting for her by the school gate. She eased herself into his autorickshaw feeling it sink under her weight. For a long time she would take the bus to school. She would leave home at seven thirty to board the seven forty-five bus which managed to get her to school at twenty past eight. But some days the bus would be late and she would end up taking an autorickshaw.

After her knee operation three years ago, Padmaja decided to take an autorickshaw on a regular basis. Pazhani was a reliable autorickshaw driver. He would pick her up from her doorstep every morning and be at the school gate when she finished for the day. He had only let her down twice in the three years. Once was when his daughter had had epileptic fits in her sleep and he had to rush her to the hospital and the next was when his brother's wife had passed away quite suddenly. Padmaja had understood his difficult situation.

“But you should at least have called me to let me know, Pazhani. Next time, whatever the emergency, just give me a call to say that you cannot make it today and I will find someone else, ok?”, she had said stuffing a 100 rupee note in his hand to pay for the doctor's bill.

She does not have much to say to Pazhani when he drops her at the apartment gate. “Thank you, Pazhani”, she tells him. “Aiyo madam, please don't embarrass me. It was a pleasure to be of service to you. Thank you, madam”, he replies effusively. She tells him that she would let him know if ever she needed an autorickshaw and ignoring his protests, thrust a new shirt and some money in his hands. And that was how Padmaja teacher marked the end of her thirty-four year long teaching career. 

(This is a short story in parts, a work-in-progress. It still needs plenty of tweaking, kindly excuse.)


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The Aiyaiyo Syndrome

These days I do what is called as a shooting supervision. When ads are filmed (with lip sync) in Tamizh, my job is to teach models their lines and rehearse with them. Most of them are from Mumbai and are non-Tamilians. So when they have to do a line in Tamil, for example "Adanaaladan Dettol ubayogikaren" (And that's why I use Dettol) , they invariably say "Aadanaladaanu naanu Detttaalu ubayogikkareanu" (Something hideous). Their exaggerated delivery of our supposed accent is all thanks to Hindi actor Mehmood. My blood pressure rises and I yell "DO NOT DO A MEHMOOD HERE. WE DO NOT SPEAK LIKE THAT".

Though their voice is dubbed later with a Tamil voice-over, I ensure that they pronounce it the non-Mehmood way. Mehmood has done this major damage to us So…


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”

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

Lost in Post

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.

My fears that you would be overshadowed by your brother have proven unfounded. Over the past year, you have come into your own as a person. Your brother demands and challenges our love and attention. You, on the other hand, are much more accepting of our distractions with him. It is almost as if you understand that he is used to being the star of the show for much of his…

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

One morning when Padmavathi was drawing water from the well, she found Pettai Rowdy # 1 Govindarajulu inside the bucket! She dropped it at once and Govindarajulu went down and down and hit the bottom of the well with a Nung sound. His upper and lower teeth fused together and since then he has been fed intravenously. Pettai Rowdy # 2, Ragothaman Iyengar, who suggested this to Govindarajulu, now rules the roost.

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 …