Skip to main content

A quick tale 199

This is him

This is him. It was taken in 1984. When he was applying for a passport. The office was going to send him to a conference in Paris in a couple of months and he needed a passport pretty soon. He went to have his photo clicked on a Tuesday morning. I asked him if he could wait until the following day as everyone knows Tuesdays are not auspicious. He chided me for being so superstitious and left for the studio. The photographer told him that he should be wearing something dark coloured and so he rushed home to change. He's wearing a deep blue coloured shirt but you wouldn't know that because it's a black and white photo. It cost him 20 rupees for 6 copies and an extra 4 rupees for the negative. I laughed when I first saw the photo because he looked so grim in it. As if the doctor had just delivered some very bad news. He was annoyed when he saw me laughing and told me that only fools grin stupidly at a camera. We stuck 4 copies onto the application form and enclosed a loose copy with it. I don't know where the negative went. But I've kept the 6th copy in my mani-purse.

He was diagnosed last June and they said that he was already in stage 3. He passed away in August. At least he didn't suffer for long. Sometimes when I open my purse to pay the milkman or the vegetable vendor, I wonder if I will only remember him as the man with the severe expression from that photo. Of course I won't. I have wonderful memories from all those years together. Some of the best ones were never captured on camera.


yezdi said…
Neat...too neat. It is amazing how you do it..
Anonymous said…
Oh Gosh! Ammani this was indeed too painful to read through. I've read all your blogs but have never been provoked to drop a comment. Your tragedy is usually blunt but this was so pricking. Am really confused whether to appreciate u or dispirit you for having written such a stingingly sore blog.
RVC said…
Hi Ammani

A bit of a newbie around here. Good stuff !The tragedy tales are very real and identifiable -great writing !
Alien said…
WOW... i loved it....
naga mama said…
Please, please let the 200th QT be a very,very, happy one .
naga mama
Itz me!!! said…
quite a tragic end..but well delivered

You May Also Like

Guest blog by Chinna Ammani

Here’s an interesting write-up by Chinna Ammani on stereotypical portrayals in Indian adverts. The opinion expressed is strong and the language uncompromising. Read at your own peril!-a

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 …