How many hurdles the poor in India have to scale to get justice! Can ordinary Indians make a difference? Flower Queen is a book for Indians, but for it to reach the intended audience it has to be printed in India. May be some day this will be possible.

Maharani slept on the pavement with her son. She tried desperately to eke out a living by selling flowers in Chennai, and her mental problems did not help matters. I tried to help her but found it difficult to sift through the facts that she gave me. It was impossible to be completely sure when she was under a delusion and when she was telling me the truth.

She was waiting for compensation from the Government because her husband had been killed in a road accident, and I found that she was no match for the general apathy and corruption through which she would have to fight her way. I published the journal that I maintained at the time, calling my book Flower Queen. It is available at
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An excerpt from the book:
“My husband’s sister is our family saathaan and brings misfortune to the family.” Whenever Flower Queen said these ‘profound’ things, she took on an expression that looked like something between a puppy and a learned sage.

She flashed her wise puppy look at me another time when she took me into her confidence and whispered in my ear that it would not rain in Chennai till she got a house because she had cursed the city. She predicted that it would rain in torrents the day she got a house.

“Only after I sleep a night in the new house will it rain, you will see.” She also had some kind advice for me

“Do not go out in the sun because the sun will be extra hot these days.”

“Why is that so?” I asked her absent mindedly.

“Because of my curse. I have cursed the city with a dry spell.” Then she continued. “Amma, if you walk in the sun, you will go wonky in the head like me. Then you will start roaming the streets as I do.”

I was going wonky already. I also had to keep these stories to myself because Philip said they made him sick.