Can a woman love her daughter-in-law beyond the death of her son? G. Ramesh finds his answer in Padma, a flower seller from Mylapore

Padma, 70 now, lost her son 15 years ago in an accident and, four years later, her husband died. She however remains unbroken by the hard blows of life, nor by the difficult circumstances of her everyday living, which includes having to string and sell flowers to make ends meet.

In a small shop opposite PS Higher School at Alamelumangapuram, Mylapore, you can find her sitting quietly and stringing tulsi strands, well into the evening. Many of the regulars at Anjaneya temple know her by the flowers they offer to the deity. For around 30 years, since the time temple was built, she has been around there selling flowers.

She opens her shop at 7 am and calls it a day only around 8.30 p.m., taking a break from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm, only because the temple remains closed during that time.

On Thursdays and Saturdays too, she follows this pattern, except that her closing time is extended to 11.30 p.m.

Standing outside PS School on a quiet, bustle-free Sunday evening with dusk showing up on the horizon, and watching Padma at work, I cannot help feeling nice about life and humanity. Customers buying flowers from her for `archanai’ display respect and friendliness towards her. Noboby haggles. There is no need for it. Padma is content with what she has.

She does not want anything for herself. “My daughter-in-law has studied up to Plus Two. She needs a job,” says Padma.

The daughter-in-law, who also sells flowers, has continued to live with Padma.