Sunday, July 31, 2005

A quick tale 55

A contest

They competed with each other to show off who had read more books. I have 500 books, said one. I have 5000, said another. An entire library, said the third. Have you read Sartre? Marquez? Kafka? Hemingway? What about Baudelaire? Poetry, fiction, science, theology. They quoted from rare books, unheard-of works. It was an intellectual beauty parade. Much like how a lesser man (or woman) would have boasted lovers. The bookworms jostled for the best-read crown. To them it was more important to be seen reading. It didn’t matter what they had learned. Only what they had read.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A quick tale 54


‘I won’t be a burden on any of you. One morning you will wake up and find me gone’ he used to say to his family. But that was when he was younger and healthier and was only in the early stages of dementia. He slid down the slope rapidly in the following years and lost control of his life along with that of his bowels. They took him to expensive hospitals, put him on imported medication and employed someone to clean up after him. They even celebrated his 80th birthday with great fanfare. By then he could no longer remember his resolve to die painlessly.

Friday, July 29, 2005

A quick tale 52


8 glasses of water a day. 7 hours of sleep. Vitamins for a healthy body. Calcium for strong nails, bones and teeth. Atkin's, South Beach, Grapefruit, Macrobiotic. Facials for smooth skin. Creams and scrubs to polish and buff. Surgery for laughter lines. Pluck, tweeze, thread, wax, shave. Sit ups for abs. Push ups for arms. Aerobics for the heart. Weight training for firming and toning. Stretches for love handles. Protein serum for bouncy hair. Detox every month. Botox every six weeks. Spinach and broccoli juice for breakfast. Miso soup for lunch. Sunflower seeds and pine nuts to snack. Fruits for dessert. Then one day she dropped everything. And let it all hang out. No one noticed the difference.

A quick tale 51

After all this time

He was the one she was in love with many years ago. She could recognise that voice anywhere in the world. She turned around to see him. His once-lean frame now sagged under prosperity. The firm jaw had gone a little soft. Now peppered with a day-old stubble. Hunger had left his eyes. The tight curls on his head had lost their spring and were mild-mannered waves now. She quickly looked away before he could recognise her. There were still traces of love lining her eyes. Which she didn’t want him to see.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A quick tale 50

Claim to fame

Her marital status was mentioned unfailingly each time her name came up in discussion. Much like how it’d be said of a certain monument. That it was one of the seven wonders of the world. Or how a certain entertainer was always the King of pop. Or how such-and-such actress was the most beautiful woman in the world. Similarly, she was not the one who wrote free verse or climbed the steps on an escalator or had infinite patience or cried at the plight of children or gave away money unflinchingly or ran a business ruthlessly or had a weak knee or suffered frequent insomnia. She was always the one who had not married.

How to tell...


They stick to each other like there is no space. In an empty carriage.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A quick tale 49

Loo story

She hated going on buses. Where there were no toilets and she would have to sit tight until her destination. She envied the way men relieved themselves in any corner. Not caring for what people thought. Not bothering to hide as they went about their business. How could women act like we never visited a toilet before, she wondered. For, not once did she see a woman get out of the bus to take a leak. On one particular journey however, the pressure on her bladder grew so bad that she went blue in the face. She asked the driver to stop and hurried behind the bushes. And everyone complained that she was delaying the journey.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A quick tale 48


‘Modern with traditional values’ – he would write in the matrimonial column, about the wife he wants. Ask him what he means by that and he’d say ‘She should wear jeans but not shorts. Should pour me a drink but not have a sip herself. Should know cooking. Using a microwave. Can have short hair but not too short. Should go to work but not in a demanding career.’ Roughly, this would be his answer. And he will get a wife who meets his criteria.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A quick tale 47


He wrote under his wife’s name. So they called him Mr. Wifesname. Funny, considering his wife was referred to as Mrs. Husbandsname.

A quick tale 46

Silver lining

She was pulled into a last-minute meeting at work. And was further delayed by an important phone call. Then she missed her bus. When she boarded one, it did not stop where she wanted to get off. So she had to walk back. When her shoe strap broke. Which slowed her even more. And there was a sudden downpour. So she had to wait till it stopped. Finally, drenched and limping, she arrived late for the movie. And while getting to her seat, she accidentally stamped on her ex-boyfriend’s toes. Which was rather nice.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A quick tale 45

All about me

She was the kind of person one did not want to be stuck next to on a long train journey. She would go on about her thyroid, the increasing cholesterol level, painful arthritis, the mystery fever that struck last month. She could give detailed description of each to anyone who’d listen. Or not.

How she has garlic pills to control cholesterol, how they make her feel bloated and make her fart and burp at all times, how she has lost appetite, and can no longer smell or feel the tip of her fingers. Has she told them about the diabetes scare she had in February? And the time she fell down the stairs and twisted her ankles? Surely they don’t know about how they nearly removed her uterus? Yes, she’d like some coffee. With two sugars, please. But do they know that she can no longer tell between green and yellow? May be she’s going colour blind. She’s due for an eye-check up anyway. And what was that scar on the elbow? Oh, she has a similar one from when she spilt boiling milk on her arm.

Then one day she was run over by a truck and was killed instantly. It was exactly the kind of accident she would have loved to talk about.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A quick tale 44

A forgotten lesson

It was a call from her best friend that woke her up. ‘Quick, turn on the telly! There’ve been explosions all over London'. She watched in horror as her beloved city was plunged into chaos. Bodies were retrieved, places cordoned off and a deep sense of shock had taken over. The events made her realise how flimsy life was. ‘I will start living for the day’, she resolved. She would live her dreams, chuck the job she hated so much, get a tattoo, go on a round-the-world trip, have all the sex she could and eat all the ice cream there was. For she may be dead tomorrow. Six months later, she was still in the same job. With a home loan that would take 20 years to pay off.

Monday, July 04, 2005

A quick tale 43

A letter in love

My dearest,

I told a bank clerk about us today. Her eyes widened when I told her that we were married for 33 years. But what can a mere number reveal? How can it ever capture the sight of you standing in our doorway, cutting the sunlight in your shape as you dried your hair? Or how you used to refuse to cook on Sundays because you were ‘cooked-out’? Or how you’d rest your legs on my lap and ask me to massage your feet? Do you remember how you cried when Kanna was born? Because you really wanted a daughter. You cried again when Kunjamma was born. Because she didn’t look anything like you. If only you could see her now!

And when you were diagnosed, how brave you were. Though I knew you were crumbling inside. You became a scared little girl afraid of the dark. And for the first time in all those years, I saw the light die from your eyes. Slowly, you started putting the toys away and began preparing for the next game. You arranged everything, even picking out a name for Kunjamma’s unborn child. Our grandchild was born yesterday. She’s got your beguiling, almond eyes. And when I call out to her, I will be calling your name. For I know you’ve come back to me.

Yours always,


Sunday, July 03, 2005

Not a quick tale

Hello Reader,

I am the man from Quick tales. My name is...well, it doesn’t matter what my name is. I’m always ‘her husband’ or ‘her boyfriend’ or the ‘one who became her password’. The author portrays me as a chauvinistic, abusive slime ball. Well, guess what? I’m not. That’s that.



Friday, July 01, 2005

Rules for her

She had to be like a piece of wood. Who must not feel sensual or sexy. Or erotic. Or have dreams. Or fantasies. Nothing allowed. She was to remain dormant. Her legs shut tight. Her mind padlocked.
Until her husband touched her awake.
And rolled on top of her. Never asking what she wanted. Only doing. For she must not feel sensual or sexy or erotic. No, not allowed.

A quick tale 42

Ambition 2

As a child if she had been asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, would she have answered ‘founder of an NGO for street children’? She was pretty sure she would have.

For my friend, Anu