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)
(to be continued)