Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A quick tale 182

On why she limps

When Sarasa was five or so, she came home from school one day complaining of fever. It only lasted five or six days but every waking hour was hell. Sarasa would weep from unbearable muscle pain. Her recovery was gradual and the fever left her with a permanent limp. Suseela, Easwari and Kannan were born in quick succession in the years following and Sarasa's limp became a fact of life. When she was 18, Sarasa married Chockalingam who was hard of hearing. It was felt that one disability deserved another. These days Sarasa works at the family planning centre in Nagoor. Last week, while climbing down the stairs, she misjudged the last step and tripped, twisting her ankle and tearing a ligament in the process. Her foot is now bandaged and Sarasa walks with the aid of a crutch. Her wince is genuine but her limp is exaggerated. So that the one or two people who will see Sarasa today for the first time will think that the fall has caused her to limp.

A quick tale 181

One cloudy Tuesday afternoon on the motorway

The car splutters, wheezes, coughs and despite fervent prayers to your favourite gods, dies on you. You were lucky enough to be on the outside lane and you somehow manoeuvre your way to the hard shoulder. What’s the instruction in such instances? Stay in car? Or get out as quickly as you can? Where’s the AA card? Oh yes, you never renewed the breakdown cover after it expired unused last January. Damn. At least the kids are not crying. Not yet anyway. Should you call the police? Where’s the mobile? Thank god, there’s plenty of battery left in it. But is there enough credit to make a call? Why does it have to happen today? Why can’t you crawl back to being a kid? And not be in charge of everything?

Like that time when the train broke down and they said that it would take a whole day to resume the journey. You were stranded in the middle of nowhere. And there was only enough food and water left for a couple of hours. There were rumours about bandits attacking the train at night. You saw your father close to tears for the first time ever. But all that mattered to you was playing Antakshari with your sister and fighting over comic books. Your parents would sort troubles out. That’s what adults were there for. Presently, you hear a fight breaking out in the back seat. And you hear yourself mutter, ‘Now, now, don’t start, the two of you. Amma’s gonna take care of everything’.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A quick tale 180

You shouldn't have

Am I okay? Yes, yes, I'm fine. It's just that am not used to such extravagant gifts. It's a lovely chain, yes is it, pure 22 carat gold it says on the box. But did you really have to buy this for me now? What with the price of gold these days, it must have cost you a fortune. You have children of your own now. That too daughters. You should be saving for them. There will be school and college fees to pay for and weddings to celebrate and hospital bills to foot. You shouldn't be spending money on your old mother. There's that loan on your house. Plus your wife has just quit her job. What was the need to buy me such an expensive present? Haven't you bought me enough already? You could've done something else with it. You could've put the money in a fixed deposit or something. It would've earned you some interest atleast. What good will come of it hanging around my neck like this? Yes, I am happy. Yes, I am thankful. Yes, I too wish I could stop feeling guilty all the time and enjoy something just for once. But still, you really shouldn't have...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A quick tale 179

Two ps and an o

Funny how it all comes back. Mrs S. English lesson. Eighth standard. Opurtunity. Yes, like that. With one p and an u. She made you write the word over and over again. And the whole class laughed at you. After all these years, here you are writing a thank you note to a friend for the dinner last night. Please give us an opurtunity to reciprocate your hospitality, you type and it rushes back to you like it happened yesterday. You spend the next few minutes staring at the screen. And quietly, very quietly you click the send button. Before allowing yourself a little smile.