It sounded grand calling it a career. As if it was something she had chosen to pursue after years spent studying and training for it. Padmaja had never considered going to work. Why would she have to go to work when her husband went to office? She would look after the house and her husband and when the children came along, she would look after them.
She had only seen Ramanathan once before they were married. Her father had matched their horoscopes and predicted a long and blissful union. Someone remarked that he looked like that cricketer Venkatraghavan and for many years after his death, whenever Padmaja could not recall his face, she would remind herself of Venkatraghavan.
They had been married for seventeen months and Padmaja was six months pregnant with her daughter when Ramanathan was killed in a road accident. He was one his way to Trichy to attend a family wedding when the bus he was travelling in collided with another van and he was one of the six who had died immediately. His body was never recovered. They had kept the news hidden from her for days.
Ramu was held up at Trichy on some unexpected business, someone told her when she wondered where he was. He had rushed to office on his return to Madras and he had had to leave for Delhi for some urgent official work, someone else informed her. It was very unlike Ramu to not even call her and spend a few minutes asking how she was. It all seemed too sudden and too hasty for her comfort. What is going on, Amma?, she confronted her mother when she was no longer able to accept the feeble reasons given to her for Ramu's continuing absence.
Her mother blurted it all out in one breathless rant and when she had finished, Padmaja crumpled smoothly to the floor. Sanjana was born four weeks early and had to be kept in an incubator for a week before she was discharged. Padmaja moved back to live with her parents and when the baby was four, the primary school she went to had a vacancy for a teacher. Her mother thought it would be a good idea for Padmaja to keep herself busy. She started working there the following June. The school enrolled her in an Open University B.Ed degree and she gradually moved to working with older children.