Introduction

This chapter tells us a story about two sisters who lead very different lives. The narrator is a well-educated working woman, while her sister is a housewife who did not receive much education. The author makes important commentary about women’s education and the patriarchy through the story.

Characters

The narrator– an educated working woman

Akkayya– the narrator’s older sister

Baavagaru– Akkayya’s husband

Nannagaru– the sisters’ father

Maridi– the narrator’s husband

Akkayya’s Letter

The moment the narrator sees letters when she returns from work, she gets excited. She instantly feels close to her loved ones and the exhaustion of office work vanishes. Instead of being tired, she feels like humming a tune and making a nice cup of coffee.

Letters from familiar people even gives her the energy to quickly make and eat some pakodas or bajjis. Even though she is lazy about writing letters she loves to receive them. She received an unexpected letter from Akkayya. Akkayya didn’t normally write, so there had to be a special reason. The narrator nervously opened the letter hoping there was no bad news.

The letter started by addressing her as Ammalu. It said that Akkayya and Baavagaru were coming to their house because they had finally found the time to go to Kasi and Haridwar. The narrator excitedly told her husband that Akkayya and Baavagaru were coming over. He asked for the details and took the letter from her. She went into the kitchen to get the coffee and other things ready.

Akkayya and Baavagaru were coming to their city and their home for the first time since the narrator’s marriage. She had looked forward to their visit all these years. They had never left their little village to go anywhere, using children, cattle, cooking and more as excuses.

Akkayya is not as educated as the narrator. Their Nannagaru did not let her study after Class Five because people thought educating a girl was useless in those days. A decade later, when the narrator was born, educating girls had become the norm. Their father even sent her to college. 

No girl who is well educated can be satisfied with staying at home and being a housewife. She would want to put her education to good use and achieve something in life. So, even though her husband had a good job, the narrator took up one as well.

Because Akkayya was not educated, she was married to a man from the village. Though Baavagaru was educated, his ideals made him choose to be a farmer in the village. Akkayya grew accustomed to the village life.

Akkayya’s Visit to her Sister’s House

Akkayya brought many things like cucumber, gongura, drumsticks, appadums, vadiyams and coconuts. The narrator was happy because they didn’t get all those things in the city. She said that if Akkayya’s Maridi had gongura pulsu, cucumber pappu and drumstick charu, he felt it was a feast. With her office work, she was unable to make appadams and vadiyams. Even if she had some free time, she was too lazy for it.

Akkayya consoled her by saying that by the time she came back from office, she must be too tired to prepare all that food. She didn’t know how the narrator managed work both at home and in the office. The narrator exclaimed that it was a wretched job and she sometimes felt like giving it up. 

Akkayya said that the narrator was very fortunate that she had studied well, had a job like a man and was earning very well. She didn’t have to beg anyone for anything. She was able to lead a dignified life unlike Akkayya who had to depend on her husband even for a few rupees.

The narrator thought to herself that the grass is greener on the other side. She changed the topic and asked her what her daughter was doing. Akkayya said she was in her final year at school. She wanted to send her to college if she passed her exams, but her husband didn’t like the idea of sending her to the next town and putting her in a hostel.

But Akkayya didn’t want to keep a girl at home without educating her because in current times, a woman must have a degree. Without it, she will have to live under her husband’s thumb, like a scorpion under a slipper.

Conclusion

Akkayya, who does not have much of an education, understands how important educating girls is. She feels oppressed because of her lack of higher education, and knows how fortunate her sister is, even if she is tired of her work. The story helps us understand just how crucial educating girls is, since it helps them become dignified financially independent women in the future.