Selecting A Bride

Though I had studied in a co-education institution and later worked in a multinational company, I had not fallen in love with any girl. When I turned  twenty seven without a bride in the offing, it was my mother’s lot to find me a better-half . She hit the matrimonial sites in earnest and both of us combed through the numerous girls’ bio-data given there to find me a spouse.

“Did I want a working girl?”

Did I want a tall/short/thin/fat girl?”

“Should the bride be fair skinned/ medium complexioned/ dark?”

So many questions. So many options.

When we had selected the girls whom we thought were promising, we called up  the telephone numbers given in their column and talked to them. If things moved from there , we were invited to meet the girl and her family.

I don’t know about the others, but in my case, the two alliances we followed up did not work out. They just taught me a lesson on the psychology of girls.

Now that I am happily married, I find those two episodes very comical and can laugh about it to my lovely understanding wife.

The first girl I went to see was described to me by her mother as being “soft spoken, gentle and home loving.”

I asked permission to talk to her privately. We were both left to conduct a conversation and decide for ourselves if we were compatible.

As soon as we were alone the girl said:

“I am not anything like the person my mother  described to you. I am very MODERN in my attitude.”

“In what way?” I asked taken aback by her forth-rightness.

“I will not wear a burqa (a long, loose garment covering the whole body from head to feet, worn in public by Muslim women as a sign of modesty)

I laughed.

Pointing to my old homely mother I said, “My mother does not wear a burqa. Does that make her modern?

She blinked “I did not mean it,  in that way,” she said but failed to elucidate in what way she was MODERN.

We talked for sometime. From her reluctance to open up, I knew that she was not interested in marrying me.

When it was time to leave, I put out my hand to her for a hand shake. She balked a moved back, like a docile Indian girl.

I teased her. “Why are you not shaking hands with me. You said you were very ‘MODERN’ right?

I did not draw away my hand and she had to shake it, although reluctantly. Anyway, that alliance did not come through.

The second girl on my list had a friendly father and soon we both were chatting like good friends. Matters moved at a brisk pace and he and his wife visited our house and we were invited to theirs.

On the first visit, they did not allow me to talk privately with the girl by quoting a religious reason.

I was not happy to proceed further with out talking with her and knowing her wishes.

Few days later, we were  invited to their house for lunch. This time  I found an opportunity to talk to her alone in her balcony and I asked her, “Looks like our parents are ready to fix the wedding date. Are you happy with it?”

“No.” She replied.


“No . I don’t want to marry you. I am in love with another person. My parents are against that boy and are trying to fix my wedding with you”

“Why are they against him?”

“Because he is  a car-mechanic and not from our caste or social standing. Also he does not have a educational qualification. But I feel that LOVE is above all these things.”

I totally agreed with her that love matters most in any marriage.

“Have you known the boy for a long time ?” I questioned her.

“Three months!’

“You are joking right?” I ventured.

At this , her face contorted in anger and she said rudely, “Hey Man. Are you an idiot? I am talking so seriously about my lover and you think that I am joking? Have you never been in love before?”

I replied in the negative.

“Then you are a Deva (God),”  she said and walked away to her room.

I started shaking with anger. I wanted to leave immediately but I did not want to create a scene in the girl’s house. But her parents were leading me to the lunch table and I got no opportunity to tell my mother anything

Luckily at that time my phone rang. It was only a service call from my phone company but I pretended that it was from my office and they were calling me on a matter of utmost urgency.

“A beam crashed down? OMG! Hope no one got hurt. Yes. Yes. I am coming immediately.” I made an imaginary conversation with a mute phone and walked quickly to my car without eating and drove away with my mother.

Her father rang me up that evening and begged my forgiveness as he had guessed what might have transpired between his daughter and me and he wished me well.

I wished him best of luck too, as he really needed dollops of good wishes having an  irresponsible daughter like that.

I am NOW happily married to a wonderful girl. My father’s best friend brought this alliance. I got to talk to the girl properly before  agreeing to the match.

When I said my favourite line,

“Looks like our parents are ready to fix the wedding date. Are you happy with it?”

I liked her calm reply.

“If that is my father’s decision, then I am happy with it, one hundred percent.”

Story By S. Written by Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo

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Is There Life After Death?

When my sons were in the primary school, I was a member of the ‘Parent-Teacher’ association. It was quite a friendly group of parents who got together with the teachers a few times a year and discussed school matters and helped out  in the school’s  extra curricular activities.

We were the same set of members for many years together, till our children graduated from school. The parents themselves became comradely and would drop in at each other’s houses. We parents had our own outings and attended parties and festival gatherings of all the association members.

In short we became good friends.

Now it is many years since my children attended school. They are married with kids of their own. But my stint at the school association remains a happy memory to me.


One person who was a hero of our association was Mr.Ilango. He was someone whom you could rightly refer to as, ‘a jolly good fellow.’

He and his wife would invite us home often and serve us scrumptious meals. He would manage to get tickets for good movies for all of us and what a treat we had. Also he was such a chatter box that he could wax eloquent on any topic under the sun.

There was another lady in our group Mrs.Sara, who was as witty as him. The both kept our group an active and a happy one.

Then my husband died!

It was a sad time for me and I dropped out of the group as I was busy with so many things.

Once I happened to take my children to a book shop in a mall in our city. My children were occupied in the kid’s section and I wandered among the aisles looking at the books in the shelves. One book caught my eye. It was in the philosophy section and the title was, “Is There Life After Death.”

Being drawn to it for obvious reasons, I picked it up and became engrossed in it.

The next day, Mrs. Sara rang me up. She said that Mr.Illango had come to the book shop the previous evening and had seen me there.

He had wanted to come over and talk to me. But seeing the book that I was reading, he had not wanted to disturb me. He told Mrs.Sara that “his heart had bled seeing me seek answers to questions taunting me after my husband died, in the philosophy section of a book shop.”

I  lost touch with my school group after a few years. Mrs.Sara would call me occasionally, mostly on my birthday which fell on the same day as her sister’s.

She told me one day that Mr.Ilango who was much younger to me, was suffering from cancer and was slowly dying. It broke my heart that such a man as him, who was the epitome of life was, slowly dying.

A few months later, I saw his obituary announcement in the papers.

I wished I had visited him when he was sick. But I knew that my heart too would have bled to see him on his death bed.

When ever I see the book I had bought that day at the book shop, when Mr.Ilango had not wanted to disturb me, I think of him.

I wonder with a saddened heart if  Mr.Ilango would have found out for himself the answer.

The answer to that baffling question.

“Is there Life After Death?’

Is there??!!


Story written By Gulsum Basheer @ Talkalittledo

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The Grandmother’s Decision- Right Or Wrong?

As a child my relative’s daughter grew up in her grandmother’s house. Her mother had died when she was young and her father had remarried. The grandmother had taken responsibility of the girl and even though they belonged to a middle class family, the lady had brought up the child well and instilled her with good values. She also educated her up to under graduate level.

The granddaughter was a lovely girl,  witty and so full of life. Everyone loved to converse with her as her jokes and repartee kept them in splits.

The grandmother adored her granddaughter.

When it was time to get her married, many proposals came for the girl. While the lady was deliberating over each proposal, a very rich and well known family approached her. They were eager to get the girl married to their youngest son. Everyone was surprised and happy. They thought the girl was going to have an affluent life.

But the grandmother refused the proposal.

“Why did you reject this proposal?” People asked in surprise. “She would have lived like a queen, in that house.”

“No. My granddaughter would not thank me for it.”

The grandmother told people that every day of her life, her granddaughter would be thinking, “had my mother been alive, she would not have done this.”

“Why don’t you ask her and let her decide.” The relatives badgered her. “You are denying her a rich life. What sort of a groom can you find for her on your meager income?”

The grand mother did not budge from her decision. Her mind was made up. She sent word to the rich people with a negative answer and they too were shocked.

She got her granddaughter married to a man of her choice from a back ground that was as humble as hers.

Many times when her head was bowed in prayer, the old woman asked the supreme being if she had done the right thing. She often wished that the rich family proposal had not come for the girl. She knew that all her life she would be told by people that she had taken a wrong decision.

But every time she saw her granddaughter with her husband, chatting nineteen to a dozen, teasing and making him laugh with her wit, she would sigh and think, “May God be my witness. I am sure I did the right thing.”

Are you wondering, what was wrong with the rich boy? Why did she refuse that proposal?

The boy from the wealthy, well known family was… DEAF and DUMB.

Readers, please reply. Was the grandmother’s decision, right or wrong?

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Can We Give Up On Life?

Some years ago, being disappointed and disillusioned with myself and being low in self esteem, I decided to leave it all.

With some thirty thousand rupees, I left my city and drove north east from Chennai. My idea was to reach Calcutta.

Maybe drive into obscurity.

I passed through many cities, Guntur, Vijayawada, Vizag, Bhubaneswar, meaning to drive to Behampur. But at Badrak, a cyclone hit the town and I was forced to stop there.

I checked into a hotel on the high-way and waited for the storm to subside.

When calm prevailed, I hit the road again. There was this guy, who asked me for a lift.

As we drove along, we began chatting. I opened up to him and poured out my woes, knowing fully well that I would not meet this stranger again. He understood the plight and confusion I was going through. He  did not advice me or analyse my problem.

“You need the intervention of a higher being,” he said and suggested that I go to this temple town, where the residing deity would show me the right way.

I dropped him off at one exit to Paradeep, and looked up the road sign there. The board pointed to the temple town on the left and Bhubaneswar straight ahead. I took the road going straight ahead . Meeting the lord of the holy town was not on my agenda.

I climbed the flyover and after some twists and turns, I noticed that I had taken some wrong turning and my car was not heading for Bhubaneswar, my original destination. I was in fact going towards the temple town which the man had suggested.

I was jolted for a moment.

I broke into goose bumps. A twist of fate  wanted me to pay my obeisance to the Lord there and own up to Him all my fears and doubts. Who am I to go against the working of the ‘higher-being?’

So I drove on into the holy town  and checked into a hotel.

I went in search of the deity. But the temple had closed for the night.

I started to walk along the sea front, savoring the cool breeze.

As I kept walking not able to decide what to do, I landed up at a crematorium right there on the beach. A corpse was being burnt in the open and the sea breeze was flaming the pyre into a big flame. The man in charge of the cremation of the body had a long stick, with which he was beating the body as it burnt.

(Sometimes the burning body would move due to some relaxation of the muscles as they burnt under tremendous temperature. So in open crematoriums, there was always a man with a stick to beat the body down into the fire.)

Even as the man beat the corpse, he was mumbling and talking to himself.

Seeing me observing him from a little distance away, he said loudly, so his voice carried over the sound of the waves and the scream of the winds:

“However great a person may be, he ends up like this only, sir… In the meantime, look at all the mischief he gets into.”

Hearing his words, it was as if a spear had pierced into my heart.

My whole life flashed before my eyes. What dreams! What aspirations! What mistakes! Finally, it all ended like this.

Each blow on the burning corpse began to hurt me, opening my moronic mind to the bare facts of life. We come with nothing, and go with nothing. Life is the most precious gift we have been given. It was wrong to throw it away when we wish.

I stood alone that dark evening a mute witness to someone’s cremation, watching the fire burn the corpse completely till only embers remained.

I cried. Oh, how I cried. Like I had never cried before.

My sobs were shaking my body, my tears mingling with the salty sprays from the waves and my supplications rising above the flames and carried no doubt to the deity who had brought me to his portals.

I had driven too far and got this close to the exit. But the Lord had driven me to his holy town, not to die. But to find peace.

So I found peace and courage also to face life.

I thought of my wife and children who would be in horrible trouble if I went missing. I regretted what I had contemplated doing. I decided to turn back.

I returned to my hotel room and rang up my wife and told her where I was.

The next morning I paid my respects to the Lord of that holy city, who had saved me. I drove back the way I had come. This time with a destination in mind.

Back to my family.

Back to LIFE.

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This Is How We Got Married.

When  I was a young lad,  I fell in love with a girl and have remained besotted with her since then. Even to  this day, even though I am more than fifty years old.

Luckily for me, she is my wife.

This is how we got married.

When I was in my final year of school, I fell in love with Mumtaz (name changed) She was a distant relative and I was bumping into her at many family gatherings. My efforts to make her take notice of me proved futile.

Once in a fit of bravado, I asked her to loan me a dress to wear for a fancy-dress competition in school. Needless to say, I won the event. I was all agog with happiness. But it was short lived, as I heard that Mumtaz had given away that beautiful new dress to a maid, as she did not want to own a dress that had been worn by me.

It broke my heart and I thought she hated me. I kept far away from her as possible.

Years passed by. Mumtaz’s father was looking out for a groom for her. My mom even told me that they had short- listed three boys and I was not one of them.

Mumtaz’s family owned a resort close to our home town and we were in the habit of spending a day or two there on vacation.

During that hot summer, Mumtaz and her family, including many of her cousins stayed in the resort. Mumtaz was an excellent swimmer and much to many prim and proper old ladies’ chagrin she would don a swimming costume and swim with her cousins, both boys and girls.

The next day, I landed up with my group and walked to the pool.

Mumtaz’s dad was calling her to come into the pool. But she was giving me surreptitious looks, blushing pink and was hesitant to get into her swimming clothes.

Her father, a man who minced no words asked her brusquely:

“Are you feeling shy to get into the pool, because THAT GUY is here?”

Hearing me being addressed as ‘THAT GUY,’ I took offence and walked away.

The next day, it seemed I was transported to the seventh heaven. A proposal of marriage was brought from Mumtaz’s house for me. Our family never expected that.

Things moved pretty fast after that and we were married soon.

When I asked my beautiful wife on my wedding night, how this came about she told me shyly:

She had always been in love with me. But was not sure about my feelings for her. Her father had come to her rescue. Seeing her blush on my arrival at the pool, and her reluctance to don a swimming costume and get into the pool with me, the great man had put two and two together and arrived at a decision.

The next day, he had called his daughter to him and said:

“I have four boys in mind as prospective grooms for you. But I personally like the fourth boy. But your choice is final.”

He had mentioned three boys whom he had short listed earlier and the fourth name he said was MINE!

My darling wife, like a true daddy’s girl, hiding her elation, had blushed and said:

“Whom ever you like daddy. Your wish is my mine.”

That is how we got married.

Two children and three grand children later, my wife has just one grouse against me.

I presented her with a skipping rope soon after our engagement. She was expecting something more romantic.

I justify myself by saying,

” I was an athlete  and Mumtaz was on the fatter side… come on folks …I was a simple innocent guy… what do I know about gifting?… All I knew was that I loved her and would love her for ever.”

P.S: Mumtaz lost a lot of weight before her wedding and after that has remained svelte and trim always.

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My Book Has Been Published.

My book of short stories  named  Talk A Little, has been published.

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The Boy Who Was Not Afraid Of Snakes.

My friend Kavitha had two sons, Raju and Premu.(All names changed.)

Raju was getting into so many “situations” as a boy, that Kavitha  wonders how he grew up to manhood, without getting maimed or killed, by all his atrocious activities.

One incident which still gives her the jitters is the one concerning snakes.

When Raju was in the sixth standard, Kavitha’s family had gone to stay at an estate of a relative in Kodai, for the summer vacation.

The relative had warned them that they might spot a snake or two in the garden and the gardener would deal with them and asked the boys to keep away from all things creepy and crawly in the estate

Now Raju’s interest was kindled and his greatest desire was to spot a snake. His wish was granted soon enough, when he saw a snake albeit a very small one. The gardener was summoned and he immediately hit the snake with a stout stick saying it was a poisonous one.

The snake appeared dead. The gardener went to gather some twigs to make a fire and burn the  presumably dead snake.

Kavitha who had gone into the house, heard loud screams from the watchman and other staff in the estate,

” Thambeeee!! Put that down.”

“Throw it away. Throw it away.”

“Don’t do thaaaattt!!”

Rushing out, she saw her eldest son, holding the still snake by its tail and twirling it round and round high above his head and laughing like a killer with his spoils.

Kavitha says that her heart stopped beating for a second or two on beholding such a sight.

The gardener rushed out and made him throw the snake on the ground.

“It might not be dead. Never pick up a snake like that, even if you think it is really gone.”

Sure enough, when the gardener attempted to burn its body, the snake came to life and rushed hissing viciously out of the fire. It was beaten to death one more time and burnt till it turned black.

On coming back to Chennai after the holidays, Kavitha opened her son’s suitcase to put away his clothes.

There, on top of all his clothes was a plastic bag containing a souvenir from his estate holiday

It was the remains of the DEAD snake.

P.S: Kavitha’s mother was a woman steeped in religious beliefs and tradition. She asked Kavitha to offer milk at the snake hill in their temple to atone for her son handling a snake.

Much to Kavitha’s surprise, Raju accompanied her to the temple and went through the ceremonies diligently.

Later she heard him boasting to his class-mate on the phone.

“I went with mummy, to save her if a snake came out of the hill”

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