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Tide - 27

Part - 27


The woman Padmaja spots in the far corner of the music hall looks familiar. The hair is the same as she remembers, only it has grown wispier and more threadbare in the intervening years. The woman wears a saree that seems to have been hastily draped like a giftwrapper that's too big for a small parcel - bunched up here, crumpled there. But did someone just refer to her as Dr. Gulati? Padmaja hears the woman's throaty laugh and that clears the last of her doubts about her identity. As if on cue, the woman too recognises Padmaja and quickly peels away to get closer.

“Padmaja! How are you dee?”, Sudha demands hugging her.

“Sudha, how are you? You're now Dr. Gulati?”

“Yes, Punjabi husband. Kept the name, lost the man. You look the same.”

Sudha is a professor of Anthropology at a University in Delhi and she is in town for a conference with her American friend Brad.

“Come visit me in Delhi, Padmaja. My project will be over soon and once Brad goes back...”

Seeing Padmaja's raised eyebrows, Sudha elaborates.

“It's not how you think it is, with me and Brad. I can't handle anything permanent, you know.” Her voice softens, her mind easing from the frenetic present to a distant past. “Padmaja, you are one of the few people who remember the old days, how things used to be. As I grow older, I find myself missing that. Come stay with me.”

There is a pleading earnestness in her eyes as she grips Padmaja with both hands. The screeching microphone signals the beginning of the concert. The friends exchange contact details, promise to stay in touch and settle into their places.

Padmaja sinks into the comfort of her seat and closes her eyes to the strains of the thambura.

“Excuse me, is this seat taken?”

Reluctantly, Padmaja opens her eyes to see a man - bright white cotton shirt, veshti crisply fresh, horn-rimmed glasses that subtly scream wealth - standing beside her.

“No, it's free.”

On stage, Sanjay Subramaniam begins his alaapanai in Kalyani. For once, everthing in that mercilessly shrill city is still.

-@-
(concluded)

Comments

Subha said…
Loved the end.

-Subha
Manali said…
I did not understand the end.
AKM said…
Was reminded of the times we would await the latest Ananda Vikatan or Kumudham for following the serial stories : )
Sundaresan said…
I can totally relate to this....been fighting this battle with my family that i am not lonely justbecause i am divorced...so thanks for reflecting thoughts of people like me..
Vivek said…
Ammani,

Can you explain it a little more? I did not understand the end. Why the change?
ammani said…
Thanks all. There isn't much to explain other than what I've written already.

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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

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-

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