Short Story

Mr Padmanabhan was in a hurry. In fact he was not walking, but running across the paddy field to catch the early morning bus to Kollam where he was working as a clerk in the Munsiff's Court. He was carrying his second child close to his chest. His elder daughter Leelavathy and wife Kamalakshy were trying their best to keep pace with him. Kamalakshy was really annoyed at Padmanabhan's haste.

Padmanabhan and the family were on a visit to his mother-in-law. He was planning to return the previous night. But Kamalakshy's mother suggested that they stay over night. Kamalakshy favoured his mother and Padmanabhan half-heartedly agreed hoping to leave early enough in the morning to catch the first bus available. But with the slow and stylish gait of his wife he was doubtful of catching the first bus. He was cursing his wife and she in turn retaliated the same way. They reached the road. As the husband and wife continued to blame each other they heard the horn of a bus coming towards them. They readied themselves to board the bus. The bus was approaching them but did not stop but speeded past. Padmanabhan was disappointed and his anger was aggravated.

The husband and wife started exchanging heated arguments. Pedestrians looked at them inquisitively. Another bus was at sight. The couple, for a moment, forgot their quarrels and again readied to board the bus. Padmanabhan stretched out his hand to signal the bus to stop. They thought they have made it. But the bus did not stop.

Padmanabhan took it as an insult. He could not stand it. He was shivering with anger. Kamalakshy tried to console her husband but that only flared up his anger and he started blaming her for all the mishaps.

Kamalakshy thought, may be her husband had something urgent connected with his job. Padmanabhan had cooled down a bit. He suggested that they walk to the nearby tea-shop and have a snack and tea. As they started walking they heard the sound of the horn. Padmanabhan stretched out his hand. The bus stopped. Padmanabhan boarded the bus and helped Kamalakshy to get in. They finally settled in their seats. Padmanabhan had a sigh of relief. Kamalakshy looked at her husband and smiled affectionately.

Translated by A Jayapalan

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