She said, Sir-ji, my name is Surpanakha. And I need a new er … card. A sort of Aadhar.

He said, but here it says, Surpa-.

Sir-ji, that was after my nose was chopped off … A bit of my name, and a bit of my nose was chopped off … Shall I show you my nose … It is the most discussed nose on this planet …

No, no, no. Please wear your ghunghat. Behave yourself. Stand in that queue …

Sir-ji, I stand behind this bonded labourer who works in a coal mine?


And in front of this manual scavenger?

He said, Be quiet.

Sir-ji, I need a new er … card. A sort of Aadhar … Please do hurry.

And why do you need an Aadhar? Are you going to win a Padma Shri as per the Notification? Will you be the first Asura to win a Padma Shri? Ha!

Sir-ji, are you mocking me because I look like a Rakshasi and a demon-ness? I may be unpleasant and my face resembles the moon with craters and meteors, and my belly is as swollen, and as bloated as your ego … See this, it is my hair, made of Zircon … The oldest surviving metal on this planet … harder than glass and steel … If you sell my hair, you can become a millionaire. O, Sir-ji why do you have a frown?

Silence, woman. We have zero decibel rules here.

Sir-ji. Don’t under-estimate me, just because I am a geriatric and have toothless teeth … I have dentures made of sedimentary rocks …

Woman, I will throw you out. Remember no rations for you without UID.

Oho, just because I am a widow, you treat me thus. Once, I was a pretty young thing. I chose to marry the person of my choice. If you look really carefully, I had pretty eyelashes and pretty lower lips. That day, I was at the local mela. I saw Vidyutjihva get off a bus. He walked up to me like a panther on puss. He said he was from the Kalkeya Danava clan. About our future he had a plan. He touched my ear lobe, he tapped my nose. In return I sang an Asura song for him with a nasal pose. All because of this nostrilised nose.

Next please.

Me, Sir-ji?

No, not you.

Oh. Anyway, we got married. And like most weddings on this land, including Big Brother’s, it was unhappy, kind of melancholic. Of course, I knew all his hanky panky. I looked the other way. Even though it was happening under my nose … Yes, Sir-ji, this same nose.

Will you be quiet? I need to jot down the details of these students in the fifth standard of a government primary school!

Why Sir-ji?

They haven’t got their scholarships this year.

Why Sir-ji?

Their names are wrongly spelt on their Aadhar cards. Their parents are agricultural labourers.

Sir-ji, my father was an Asura. His nose was longer than mine. Have you heard of him? No? Never?

Next please.

These are my eleven children.

Eleven children? Yours?

Yes, Sir-ji. They were born after Vidyutjihva was dead. My Big Brother put the Ravana-astra into his left nostril and he bled to death. That’s how I became a widow, Sir-ji. But I love my husband. For the past five thousand five hundred fifty five years, I have been faithful. Look. I have a fresco of his nose on my ankle. I need consoling, oh Sir-ji. Hold my hand. Pat my back. Even though I am a demon-ness and I have never cried.

Lunch break!!!

Lunch break, Sir-ji? What about my Aadhaar and the Aadhaar of my eleven children?

Children? You have no child as per our records.

Untrue, Sir-ji.


See these children have been born to me. Like stromatolites. Like single celled cyanobacteria. Like a miracle …

These are not children, these are handmade wooden puppets.

So, what? Sir-ji, you can’t let a simple unscientific detail like that come in the way of issuing their Aadhaar card?

Arrest this woman.

Sir-ji, what about my Aadhaar card?

And throw these Asura puppets into the dustbin.

Sir-ji, you can’t do that!



The end.


The moral of this fable, since every legend on this land has to have a moral: That’s how Surpanakha and her eleven children did not get a new er … card. A sort of Aadhaar.

Short story by Ramu Ramanathan. Narrated by Yuki Ellias.