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A Brief Spell Of Spring

It would have to be கத்திரிக்காய் again, sighed Vatsala. The புடலங்காய் and the பாவக்காய் were in season and would have made an excellent curry for their lunch that afternoon. But no, Rajeshwari had ruled thaத புடலங்காய் caused her to suffer from wind and பாவக்காய் was just not bitter enough these days. So it would have to be கத்திரிக்காய் yet again. There was no point suggesting anything to her. Once Raji had made up her mind, that was it. She would not be budged. And that's how it has always been between them.

Rajeshwari would decide which channel played on tv, what colour the living room wall should be painted (copper sulphate blue) and how much to pay for the கத்திரிக்காய் that they were going to eat later that morning. The sisters had been coming to the vegetable market every day for the last 50 years but Raji would never tire of talking the price down by another 50 paisa. 

இருக்கட்டுமே, pleaded Vatsala feebly, it is only small amount. How much profit do you think she is going to make from selling a few old கத்திரிக்காய்s to us?

நீ சும்மா இரு, said her older sister with the same decisive sterness with which she had been conducting their patchwork family. You have no idea about money matters, let me decide how much these old கத்திரிக்காய்s are worth.

Vatsala watched as Raji counted out the coins, letting them drop into the shrivelled hands of the vegetable vendor. Vatsala noticed that the hands remained outstretched long after Raji had stopped dropping the coins and had zipped up her purse. She let her older sister walk ahead and remained near the stall which was piled high with the season's best vegetables. 

“I'm just picking up some கறிவேப்பிலை you carry on.”, Vatsala called out to her sister who was already crossing the street to get back home. She then carefully untied the little knot in her pudavai thalappu that held a some coins and a few well-creased currency notes. From this pitiful treasure chest, she pulled out a small stack of coins and eased them into the vendor's hands and quickened her strides to catch up with her sister. Raji would already be wondering what was taking her so long.

(to be continued)

Comments

Kookaburra said…
Your words bring colors to the notes of everyday reality. I like the perfect mix in language - like an authentic flavor added to natural color... ... Waiting for the next one ...
Deepa said…
i cant read tamil.. can you please put transliterated in english.pretty please.
monu said…
nice.. never read anything like this before, just the right amount of tamil for people like me to read.. reminded me of my two periammas who never married and lived alone by themselves...
ammani said…
Thanks, Kookabura. I know I've fallen behind the second update. Will do so soon.
Deepa, I am so sorry but I would like to keep it as it is. I intensely dislike - 'vibhuti' (sacred ash) and 'veshti' (dhoti) - kind of writing. Hence this attempt.
Anonymous said…
Hi i understand the dislike but maybe you could provide the English equivalents as a postscript at the end of the story parts ? rather than in brackets as part of the story?:)) requesting because your stories are too good to be left puzzing over the kathirikkais , i understand/read tamil, btw :)

Uma
Anonymous said…
Happens everywhere. Even i do that sometimes with my Mil.

Uma
varali said…
Simple and lovely!

Deepa only asked for a transliteration, so I suppose you won't have to put translations/meanings in brackets. The pudavai thalaipu is in English script - just like that.

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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
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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
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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
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Overheard, “At least she had the satisfaction of having lived for her family”


http://jikku.blogspot.com/2005/02/quick-tale-3.html#c111042815438237631

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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.

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