All this happened in Ceylon, long before its name was changed to Sri Lanka. In those days they just called it the Post and Telegraph Service. They had not yet invented grand terms like Postal Department, Division, and so on. Every morning, the Yazh Devi left Colombo at 5:45 a.m. sharp and ran north until it reached the Kankesanthurai terminal in Yazhpanam Province; the train returned to Colombo the same day. On Fridays, Sivaprakasam, an officer with the Post and Telegraph Service, took the Yazh Devi in time to be in Yazhpanam for lunch. He started his journey back on the following Sunday in the afternoon and was in Colombo by nightfall. On Monday morning he would set out as usual, ready to lord over everyone at work.
In Yazhpanam his wife took care of their great naarsaar house, with its central yard opening up to the skies and its wide grounds. Their only daughter was married and lived in Singapore. Their three dogs and the livestock they raised—a cow, two goats, twenty hens—as well as the mice, spiders, and cockroaches they housed but did not raise kept them busy. Sivaprakasam came often to Yazhpanam, not just to be with his wife but also to take care of the house and their grounds. Even his wife thought as much. But there was another reason, a secret one.