The old lady at my doorstep in the dark envelope of dawn is a letter read thousand times over. We all know what unsightly words she is made of. A letter without the writer’s address, greetings; no comma, no full stop and no question mark. A ransom letter she is. I become the exclamation mark in bracket and resort to become a hyphen with the other member of the family when I am compelled to read it.


The envelope glides down. She tears it open and steps out of it, clad in a white sari, covering her head with the pallu*. She has a long stick with a huge iron hook looking like a malicious grin attached to the end in her right hand; her eyes intent on the kill. One of the Weird Sisters!


This is the time when my flower babies have begun to yawn, shaking off nightly slumber. Mother hibiscus lets the ladybirds, radiating their scarlet halo creep her branches. They will make a meal of aphids once they are spotted. The purple sunbirds will alight for the nectar soon. Mother won’t be surprised if the Red-whiskered bulbul pair comes back this year too for nesting. Last year all three fledglings survived and winged away.


I give a muffled call to the husband. He comes looking like the monster fish forever fixed on the wall of the Bandra’s Chapel Road. “Whatever’s going on here?” he thunders. “Flower plucking”, comes the reply in C Major. “We don’t appreciate thieving; why don’t you pluck your own flowers? Leave at once”, he completes keeping the rumbling tone intact.


She disappears swinging her small bamboo basket where lies my plucked out heart. Her dirty look stays on.


You either become a selfish giant and raise the wall higher or unsee the happenings around you. I am still thinking. What would you do?



*pallu = loose end of a sari



Street Art In Chapel Road | ©SatishKrishnamurthy/Flickr



Posted for Telling Tales With Magaly Guerrero: A Pantry of Prose, 1. @ Poets United. I chose the first option of taking one of my poems What Is A Wall For to turn it into a short story


18 thoughts on “Wall

  1. I’m with Bjorn. I liked the description of the awful neighbor (a ransom letter kidnapping plant babies). Haven’t we all run across such pests before? I also wonder what motivates the protagonist’s sympathy.

  2. Such rich descriptions. One can’t read them without understanding just how important everything the narrator sees is, how much it means. Those details make the ending interesting, immediate, and very relatable. What would we be willing to give up in the name of the sort of safety that keeps us away from everything that makes life worth living? Are we willing to lose our heart for the privilege? Decisions, decisions, decisions…

  3. Sumana, you have captured this scene well. I like the way you portrayed the personality of the neighbor in the details you provided. And the question at the end makes the reader think, but I wonder…isn’t there another alternative?

  4. This reads like a fairy tale, and I love it. I especially love the paragraph about the flowers and ladybugs. I love the ending, either building a higher wall or unseeing the happenings around you. Such an enjoyable read!

  5. Sumana this is absolutely riveting in its use of rich language and luscious imagery! ❤️ I shall be back for several more readings 😀

  6. I too am contemplating your either or. Is it a wall to keep people out or a wall to keep from seeing what transpires at our back door? I love writing that makes me think, look inward.

  7. Enjoyed this (very much, it’s vivid and not quite what it seems)…and yet I felt like it was a fairy tale I didn’t quite catch. Still, that last eerie image…a heart in a flower basket…wow.

  8. This is a tale that I would not dare read just before going to bed. It would either keep me awake for hours, or give me nightmares!

Thank You :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s