The first word

‘I hate you,’ she screamed, leaving the house. ‘I don’t need you, I’m 15.’ She made her way through the streets and dark alleys. ‘I don’t need her; I’m a teenager.’ She ran around enjoying her newfound freedom, but when she tripped and was falling, a single word slipped out: ‘Maa’.

- Fiza Fathima

The call

‘He should have woken up by now,’ said the doctor in the ICU, worried. ‘Let’s bring her,’ he suggested. She walked into the ICU, placed her trembling palm on his bruised arm. ‘Wake up dear, it’s me,’ she said, softly. Time stood still, suddenly his lips moved ‘Maa…’.

- Shwetha Natarajhan

Two again

As an infant, she held my hand when I started walking. She held me tight as I pedalled on my cycle, holding on for dear life. And now, we barely acknowledge her, amidst our friends and exams and the latest trends.

Oh, how I wish I was two again.

- Parth Shetty

Maternal instinct

Worried, Radha was in the children’s ward asking nurses and doctors about the child’s condition. The plaster on her arm indicated she’d just donated blood. People looked at her pitifully, and hoped her child would get well soon. Only the elderly nurse smiled – overwhelmed by the love of a childless woman.

- Jayanthi Mahesh

The pain

Jiya jolted awake to shouting and whimpering. She began counting backward while reminiscing her mom’s scent, fun times and her mom’s ability to fix anything and kiss away Jiya’s pain. The shouting ceased, and dad stormed out of the house. It was now Jiya’s turn to kiss away mom’s pain.

- Reena Althaf

Too late

They fought – every single day. They believed it was their way of showing love and affection. But as days went by, things went sour. They stopped saying ‘I love you’. They cringed because of the squabbles. But by then, she realised, her mother was gone – leaving her to be the only sinner.

- Sabuna Manaf

Something sweet

She brought up her orphaned nephew along with her own children. Years brought her children failed marriages, mismanaged careers, disease – her youngest son died in a drunken brawl. Through it all her nephew stood by her, performed her husband’s last rites... She started sending him home-made sweets – laced with rat poison.

- Sumita Dutta Shoam

Life in death

‘Mother,’ said one of my kids. ‘I want to soar.’

‘Look,’ said a child, pointing at me. ‘A dandelion!’ The human plucked me and blew on me. As my little seeds flew away, I withered, satisfied. My children were happily soaring, even though it caused my death.

- Mumukshya Baitharu

The beginning

She didn’t weep at the funeral and when her dismayed children living in glass cities left, she fervently changed the curtains, rearranged the furniture as she had always imagined, baked sourdough bread that no one knew was her favourite, hurled the alarm into the night and read a book.

- Bijou Antony

Bidding farewell

‘It’s time to leave for the airport,’ mother said. I stood up and felt my shirt sleeve drenched by my tears that I’d been wiping away. ‘Go well, my son,’ my mother said, before turning to wipe away her tears with her dress sleeve. ‘Safe trip,’ she said. I promised never to disappoint her. 

- Edu Edeh

The visit

‘I finally made it up to Mom. No more grudges. I feel a lot better,’ she said.

‘Great,’ her husband replied. He was the reason for the mother-daughter wrangle. ‘Are you going to visit her on Good Friday?’ he asked.

‘No,’ she said, tearing up. ‘The graveyard will be closed for maintenance work.’

- Murtaza Hasan


It’s late evening and she has not wished me yet, the first time in 24 years. Mom missing my birthday, strange.

Did I speak with her last night?

‘Have you not noticed it while speaking with her?’ asked the doctor. ‘She has advanced Alzheimer’s.’

- Atul Aundekhar

Life saver

Leela could feel the pain near her abdomen but her heart was content – her ailing son was lying safely on the bed next to hers. She remembered how her world shattered when she heard that her darling son had a chronic liver disease. She was happy to donate her liver to him.

- Renu Kala

The taste of love

She popped a grape from the small bunch her memsahib had given her into her mouth and oh, was it sweet! She quickly gathered up the rest and kept it away safely in a pouch she made in her saree. She could see how much he would enjoy them.

- Silpa Shijeesh

For him, specially

‘Why do they put such dimwits in my class?’ The teacher’s words were like a whiplash for Vina. The boy had a learning disability and as a teacher in the same school, Vina often heard such taunts about him. She swallowed her grief and despair; she was his mother.

- Vineetha

From the he(art)

It was Jake’s big day. His first artwork was being auctioned. ‘Don’t come,’ he told his mother, not wanting to embarrass her. But, to his surprise, a man bought his work for $35. Checking the shipping details, a huge grin spread over Jake’s face. “Mom” he breathed.

- Saksham Mishra

The protective hand

She was always with him to make sure no one hurt him. There was no explanation behind the bruises his friends got when they were alone. No one believed him when he told them that it was his deceased mother who was doing it.

- Malini Karani

Food for thought

I remember the first time I really missed my mother – it was the fifth day of hostel life. I was staring at the “mouth-watering” breakfast delicacies for us minions – nearly dead bread and butter, obnoxious bottles of jam and a bowl full of noodles. Oh boy!

- Vimal


Calling all writers!

Here’s Not Too Tall Tales, a microfiction section that will appear every month. Pen an original story in less than 50 words; the best ones will be published with your name and your picture. Theme: Fear

Last date for entries: April 10. Email your stories to Don’t forget to send your picture. Editor’s decision is final.