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Tide - 18


Part - 18
When she is by herself, Padmaja does not bother cooking elaborate meals. Often it is just some rice and vegetable. But when Tara comes over, Padmaja brings out her big pressure cooker and the last time she cooked with it, the steam had escaped and it had burnt the bottom of the pan. She had needed a pressure cooker valve and she had gone down to the store to get a new one.

It was her idea of hell. Shopping for a pressure cooker valve in a shop like this one. She wants to stop each and every single one of them and ask them if they really, really needed what they had just bought. Like that slick young man in tight trousers and purple t-shirt. 'Thambi, do you have a big enough kitchen for that vaanali? What will you use it for? Who is it for? Can you cook?'. Or that elderly couple looking at the different models of mixies. Most likely on their way to America to help with their daughter's pregnancy and shopping for a mixie suitable for the American electrical system.

For a while she just stands there watching the crowds. This was a game Padmaja used to play as a kid. If she thought about something long enough, it would come true. And for that to happen, she would have to concentrate real hard and block everything else out of her mind. It has worked before, like when she was 11 and focussed all her efforts on her right big toe so it would hurt enough for her to develop a natural limp so she should skip school that day and miss the exams she dreaded. It worked briefly and her mother had almost been convinced of it until the pain wore off and Padmaja forgot to limp. Perhaps she should just turn around and go back home and not bother buying today. The cooker wasn't half bad as it is and she could always borrow Kamakshi's cooker, if she needed it.
But for that she would have to start talking normally again to Kamakshi and god knows what new troubles that might lead to.

Can Padmaja wish for a pressure valve to magic its way to her without her having to go through the whole tiresome shopping experience? And why is the strange looking man smiling at her from the far corner of the room? Could it be one of the fathers from the school from a long time ago? Good god, he is actually approaching Padmaja. Why is she still standing there instead of making a quick getaway which will save her the embarrassment of small talk?

"Padmaja?", he asks before she can bolt.

"Yes. And you are..."

"Sakthivel. I was your brother Nandu's classmate at medical college."

"Of course! Dr. Sakthivel. How are you?"

She remembered him as the tall one with a droopy moustache with a head full of springy hair. He had lost most of his hair and the few stray strands had been shaven clean. Luckily his teeth had held and in fact, they were in remarkable condition. What was wrong with her? Why can't she just say hello and good bye instead of wondering whether a long-lost acquaintance had had dental implants or if his teeth were his own.

Padmaja cannot explain what happens in the next few minutes. However hard she tries, she comes away looking weak and feeble and desperate. So she will state the mere facts to anyone who wants to know and leave it to them to draw their own conclusions.

Dr. Saktivel asks her if she is going home and she replies yes.
Dr. Saktivel asks her if she wants a lift home and she accepts.
Padmaja invites Dr. Saktivel to come inside for a cup of coffee and he accepts.

Comments

Kookaburra said…
yippeee ... me the firstooo :) ... I am in and I like the way its going!
Subha said…
Great. There is an update and how. Thanks Ammani for bringing the series back.

Subha
ammani said…
Thanks, Madhura and Subha! Glad you are still following the story as I'm having trouble keeping up (what with those long, long yawning gaps between updates).

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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

The Saturday Poem

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

-a

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 …