How She Became Literally Speechless


When you ask people in their sixties or seventies for some unforgettable event that happened in their lives or in their families, they don’t think for a long time. They always have a plethora of stories to tell you. Sometimes, these stories are so mind boggling, you wonder if it really happened.

Modern kids will have countless arguments as to how such a situation could have been possible or how it could have been mitigated.

But the elders quell them with the words, “In the 50’s and 60’s, everything was different.”

Recently I heard this story that affected me a lot. But the youngsters in my family are still arguing over how unbelievable the story was.

This is the story of Damodharan (name changed)

Damodharan lived with his wife and two young children, six and nine years old. His wife had a sister of marriageable age. His wife’s parents were very old and having no sons, the onus of getting the sister married fell on Damodharan’s shoulders. He took up the responsibility in good spirit.

He went about the job of selecting the groom with a lot of thought. His wife and he worked together doing all the work that makes a wedding ceremony a happy occasion. They bought the wedding sarees, selected the wedding invites, went inviting to all their relatives houses, booked the wedding hall and contacted the wedding caterers and the priest to do the religious rites. In everything  husband and wife worked together. The old parents in law were happy. The niece and nephew were happy. The bride herself was glowing with joy.

It was one joyful family that got ready on the day of the wedding.

The relatives had assembled, the holy fire was lit and the bride dressed in her finery was brought to the stage and seated before the priest who intoned the religious verses.

It was time to bring the groom to sit beside the girl and the wedding to proceed.

But the groom was nowhere to be found. He was absconding.

There was pandemonium in the wedding hall. The groom had left a letter behind saying that he was eloping with his girlfriend.

The bride had been seated at the manavarai or the seat before the wedding fire. It was ominous to even get up before the scared wedding thread was round her neck. Now they had to find another groom immediately.

Such a thing had happened before in some families, when the groom or bride refuses to the wedding at the last moment. On such occasions, they hurriedly find some relative’s son or daughter to step in and marry the jilted party. All with the elders blessings of course.

Even as they were debating whom they could find to marry their girl at the last moment someone stepped up to marry her.

It was her brother in law, Damodharan himself.

Everyone watched aghast as Dhamodharan, tied the thaali or wedding thread round her neck and made her his wife.

His first wife was not even able to comprehend, what was happening. Her husband did not ask her permission. He did not consult her or her parents. He just seized the opportunity and got himself a new young pretty wife. More pandemonium broke out at his audacity. There was a lot of shouting and name calling. But his wife did not utter a word.

She was dumbstruck. Speechless. Literally.

The shock was too much for her. She did not say anything. She just walked out of the wedding hall.

She stopped talking after that.

She refused to speak to anyone. Not even her children. She moved in with her parents and not all their cajoling would make her change her stance. No one knows if she really became dumb with shock, because she never spoke a word after that horrific moment when she watched her husband wed her little sister.

Also she never ever set eyes on her husband or her sister again and the grieving woman died a few years later.

As for Damodharan, he settled in a far off town with his new wife, two children and got himself two more daughters from the new wife. His life went on well and he lived to a ripe old age. Only the poor first wife died, young, humiliated and mute.

When people relate this story, they wonder if it was a ploy of Damodharan that the original groom ran away at the last minute. Maybe the older man had coveted the young prettier sister for a long time.

Could a man be so callous?

How about the sister? Was she in the know?

Maybe, she too reciprocated her brother in law’s love and was a conniving girl. In her youthful ardor, she may have thought that her sister could be consoled and within a few months she would back down and come to terms with the situation and all would be well. A man marrying two sisters had happened in our society before. But the older sister, being a strong proud woman, did not relent. She would rather die than accept this treachery.

Was the younger sister a wicked cunning person too? People wonder.

All these are conjunctures only.

Like they say in the Tamil, “Who knows, which viper resides in which hole.”


Story by S. Written by Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo.

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You Should Learn How To Be Safe.

My father called me in an agitated mood one evening. He had been reading the evening newspaper. A man had been found murdered in his house. The house was in Madavaram, in Chennai, which happens to be my area also.

The reason for my father’s agitation was that the murder had taken place in my locality, during the day when the man was alone at home. I was also often alone at home during the day.

He gave me a long lecture about employing a security for my house. My father was insistent that I employ an old man from our village to work in our house as a gardener, utility man and a security person, and to be around the house all day especially when my kids and husband were away at their work place and school. The maid who came home everyday to help me with the cooking and cleaning left by 2 PM.

I promised him that I would think about it.

When my husband came home, I told him about my father’s call. He was also worried about a man being murdered in our locality and we discussed about finding some one to work in our house so that I was never alone and lonely at home.

My husband also me gave a long lecture about how careless I was about locking up and being safe.

“You should learn how to be safe…You have to know how to protect yourself.”

I do not buy an evening newspaper. I waited for the morning paper to be delivered  the next day to know the details of the crime. I hurriedly skimmed through the morning  paper to see if there was any news about the murder in my locality.

There was!

The mystery had been solved and the murderer apprehended. I laughed to myself remembering all the advice my dad had given me.

I gave the news paper in to my husband’s hands and started to tease him.

“How many watchmen do you want for yourself?”

“You really should learn how to be safe…You have to know how to protect yourself.”

My husband read the news and did not know how to react.

Yes, indeed a man had been murdered in broad daylight in our area, when he was alone.

The murderer was not any intruder.

It was his very own WIFE!!

Story By M. Written by Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo

Image By Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay

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The Lion Of Our Colony Is A Dear At Heart.

The Lion of our colony was a DEAR at heart.

Our colony is perceptibly small and we are all, at least on nodding acquaintance with each other. Mr.Senthil our neighbour is young, energetic and a really large hearted person, jumping forward to set right any trouble in our neighborhood. He is also an adventure loving man going on treks and joining organisations that help save the environment.

We called him the Singam or the Lion of our colony.

Recently I met his wife Amritha, at a get-together and the story she narrated to us, proved that the Lion of our colony was actually a romantic at heart.

In her own words:

A few years ago, when my daughter was about 5 years old, Senthil said that we should go to Pondy to celebrate my birthday. I agreed and we packed up a day earlier and left home in the evening as Pondy was just a few hours drive away.

But he seemed to be driving through a different road, almost taking the circuitous route. When I questioned him, he said that the highway we usually drive down was under repair.

After some time I dozed off and on awakening, I realized that we had crossed Vellore which was way beyond Pondy. When questioned, Senthil said that  he had decided to go  to Mysore as there was some trouble going on in Pondy at that moment and they were closing down tourist spots.

I was actually happy about the change of plans as my mother lived in Mysore and I would be celebrating my birthday with her after a long time.

We drove through the night and reached my mom’s house at one am the next day. I thought we were going to give my mom a nice surprise.

But it was I,  who got a very big surprise.

The house was all aglow, lit with many lights and when the front door opened, I saw that  the hall was filled with BALLOONS.

My mother and my sister who worked in Chennai but had come to Mysore at the bidding of my husband, were waiting for me with a big cake and lots of lighted candles, singing the birthday song.

What a wonderful turn of events. I can never forget that moment.

My kid daughter laughing in glee, my mother’s eyes moist with tears, my sister urging me to blow the candles and make a wish and my husband excited beyond words that he had managed to pull this off.

My husband had surreptitiously made these arrangements with my mom and sister and did not breathe a word of it to me. Even my daughter, hardly five years old was in the know and had managed to keep the secret all through the drive. The naughty one!!

The day’s surprises did not end there.

That evening Senthil said that we were going as a family to Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel for dinner. Though excited about dining at the opulent hotel, I was not prepared for what awaited me there.

My dear husband had prepared another majestic surprise for me.

As soon as our car reached the hotel’s portals, trumpets sounded in a royal salute to announce my arrival. Clashing of cymbals and bells accompanied my every step forward like the  royal welcome accorded only to dignitaries visiting the palace.

At the entrance pretty maidens greeted me with the traditional Aarati and adorned my forehead with Kumkum. Rose petals were showered on me from above as I glided inside blushing like a bride.

We were carried upwards in the Royal lift, usually  used only by kings and queens . We were taken to the first floor balcony to a seating area lit with candles. There, imposing men in turbans and palace uniform, waited on us and served us some delicious gourmet delights. From the balcony we had a panoramic view of Mysore Palace’s  breath-taking beauty, aglow with the night’s lights.

I had the most wonderful birthday dinner ever.

I later found out that my husband had selected this expensive arrangement from the hotel’s Birthday Celebration Package and had paid an astronomical sum for it.

I was treated like a Royal Queen at dinner, by the hotel staff.

But more than all the fanfare of the day, looking at my excited and happy husband, silhouetted against the dancing candle lights, my heart was filled with contentment.

I got this assurance deep inside me, that I would always remain the QUEEN OF HIS HEART.

For a life time…and for EVER.


Story By Amritha. Written By Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo.

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Two Sisters and Four Babies.

It is a very sad story. But sadness is part of life , right?

There were once two sisters, who loved each other very much. The sisters got married around the same time and lived well. The elder sister had two baby girls, one after the other, very quickly, while the younger sister remained barren for many years.

The younger one became sad and depressed. The older sister, seeing her sibling’s unhappiness was very sad too. She prayed long and hard and did a lot of penance  to many deities to grant her sister a baby.

But it was the eldest sister who became pregnant again with a third child, while the younger one was not granted her wish.

“I will give this baby to you.” The pregnant woman said.

The older sister, feeling guilty or magnanimous, offered to give up her third child for adoption to her younger sister.

The younger sister, who had all but given up hope of conceiving, even after spending tons of money on doctors and various tests was happy.

But  this was not to be.

The older sister gave birth to a bonny baby boy. Her husband seeing a boy after two daughters, refused to let his wife give up their son for adoption.

The two sisters were were unhappy and a rift appeared between them. They almost stopped talking to each other.

Within a year, the older sister conceived again for the fourth time.

This time there was no talk of giving up the baby for adoption. When people asked the older sister, she replied,

“Let God’s will be done.”

The younger sister too told people who advised her to approach her sister,

“I don’t want to hope too much and then get disappointed.”

But she waited, hoping and yet not daring to hope too much.

The older sister went into labour. A baby girl was born to her.

But the mother DIED.

The older sister died at the age of thirty five, leaving behind three toddlers and a new born baby.

Family members took the wailing new born and put her in the younger sister’s hands.

A few months later, the older sister’s husband brought his motherless toddlers to his sister in law’s house.

There they remain to this day.

He went abroad on work deputation to forget his wife and earn his living.

People who talk about this happening always wonder at the working of God’s will.

Both the sisters prayed that the the younger one should get a child. But she got four at one go.

But what a SAD event that was!!


This real-life story was narrated by Mumtaz

Written by Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo.

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Tie Up Your Camels.

This is a story of how careless a person could be, which really shocked me.

One day a relative of mine came to visit me. He had brought a bag, which he kept on the table in front of him. “Goodies from our native town,” he told me, pointing to the bag.

He chatted for a while. Even though I tried to concentrate on his conversation, my eyes kept darting to the bag on the table, wondering what sweets or savories he would have got for me.

He left after sometime and I opened the bag, expecting to find Halwa or Boondi. Or my favorite Jilebi.

What I saw there shocked me. Loads of CASH!

I counted the crisp currency notes.  There was three lakhs!

I called him on his mobile immediately and asked , “What did you bring me?”

“Goodies, yummy goodies”, he said.

“Are you expecting me to open a sweet shop?” I was angry and sarcastic.

“What are you saying?”

“There is three lakhs in cash in this bag,” I said.

“Oh my God! I brought the wrong bag, is it?” He almost cried. “Thank you sister. I am coming now, at once. Thank you so much.”

He hurried back to retrieve the bag.

“How can you be so careless,” I admonished him.

“Sister, protection comes from God,” he smiled sheepishly, feeling foolish and guilty.

But I was still under a shock. Anything could have happened. I might have told my maid to put away the sweets and snacks in containers and given the bag to her.

Or I might have just left the bag lying on the table and gone out.

“Brother, we all believe that protection comes from God. But do you know this famous  Arab proverb about taking care of your belongings?”

“What is that?” he asked



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Story By Mumtaz. Written by Gulsum Basheer @talkalittledo.



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Do Parrots Have Feelings Too?

My cousin told me this story.

Her tone, her expression, her concern when she was narrating it  made the tale so poignant for me, that I had to share it on my blog. But I don’t know if I can capture the essence of the story with my words.

My cousin’s friend lived in the tenth floor of an apartment complex. She and her husband were retired and their children lived abroad.

Her husband bought two  green parrots to keep them company.

He did up the whole balcony of their flat into an abode for the birds. The man put up cane trellis against the balcony to keep the birds enclosed inside. Then he hung swings, branches and clay pots from the ceiling for his feathered friends to perch. He also kept a nice big cage for them to rest . The couple took care of the birds lovingly. The entrance to the balcony from their hall was closed with a mesh door.

It was a heavenly abode for the birds. The only thing that scared the woman of the house was that the gap in the cane trellis was a little big, more than one inch in width and she feared that the birds might escape by squeezing out through the gaps.

But nothing like that happened.  As for the couple, they loved to sit at the mess door and watch the birds.

What a lovely sight it used to be.

The birds rubbed beaks and chased each other around the hanging pots.They hung upside down from the branches and played all day long.

In fact they seemed like two newly weds in the first flush of love.

The retired couple would invite people home, just to show off their pets. This went on for a year.

Then one of the birds fell sick. It would not feed, it would not fly. Especially it would not play with its mate.

The healthy parrot did its best to cheer up the sick bird. It nudged, it rubbed its beak, it  made tender sounds against the sick bird’s head. But to no avail.

A few days later, the sick bird died.

The living bird trotted about on the floor near the dead bird for a few hours, still trying to revive the friend.

The  sad man and his wife went to bed that night meaning to clear the corpse the next day.

The next morning they woke up to a silent house. No chattering of parrots welcomed them.

They walked into the balcony. Only the dead parrot lay in a stiff pose on the floor. The other parrot was no where to be found.

What the woman of the house had feared all along had happened.

The bird had squeezed itself out through the gaps in the trellis.

It had flown away!!

My cousin and her friend  would wonder, why the  birds had not attempted to escape before. The gap between the trellis was large enough and the outside tempting enough for at least one of them to have made a bid for freedom.

Was just their love so binding that it kept them imprisoned inside their adopted home and why did the other bird leave immediately after the companion had died?

My cousin relating the story to me asked in a voice  filled with wonder, awe and so much sadness that it moved me.

“Akka, do parrots also have feelings like us? Do they also love as deeply as we humans do?”

While I wondered,

“Was the free bird safe?”

Story by Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo

PS: Akka in Tamil language means sister.

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Paapa in Tamil Means Baby.

This happened a few years ago when we went to get a passport for my baby grand-daughter and renew the existing one of her mother.

We reached well in time. Since my grand-daughter was a baby, they allowed an extra person, meaning me, to accompany them into the office.

My daughter-in-law was tired after having stayed up all night with her restless child. As we waited for our turn, the security at the door, asked:

“Where is Paapa?”

My daughter in law, showed her child and said,

“This is the paapa.” (Paapa in Tamil means Baby)

The man balked.

“No. Where is Paapa?”

“This one here is the paapa. We have come to get her passport.”

The man looked at her like he had a lunatic on his hands.

“No. I mean, where is HER Paapa?”

Now it was my daughter-in-law’s turn to balk.

Then it struck me that the Hindi speaking gentleman from North of India was asking for the baby’s father.

In North India, a father is addressed as Paapa, where as in South India, Paapa means a baby.

So much for our cultural differences!

I intervened and set the man’s doubts at rest and explained that the baby’s father was at work and could not take the day off.

One more thing to remember on that day, was a young man who was sitting next to us, while my daughter in law, had gone in to complete some formalities. The man, almost a boy,  told me that he had just completed his graduation and was trying to get a job abroad and so the  passport application.

My grand-daughter kept trying to pull the bike key from his hands which he was dangling before her and teasing her. I thought there was something unusual about his fingers. They seemed different. I could not figure out what it was.

When we got up to leave, he waved us good bye. Then I noticed it.


PS: My grandmother, who lived  to be a hundred years old, used to say that having six fingers was considered to be very lucky. Hope his desire to work abroad came true.

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