Mrs. Fatima’s Diary


Tamil Muslim aged 30, married, 2 sons, 1 daughter, all living at home. Educated to secondary level.

7th July, 1975 (Monday)

I woke up at 5:30. I took bath. Then, at 5:45 I prayed for 10 minutes. From 5:55 to 7:00 I finished my kitchen work, morning breakfast and afternoon lunch also. Correct (Exactly at) 7:00 I kept (put) the breakfast in (on) the dining table. Then I went to the bedroom and woke my children. [At] 7:05 I served my husband breakfast and I kept the lunch in the tiffin carrier and kept it in the [motor] scooter. At 7:30 my husband went to [his] office. Then I took my small son, he is about four years old, I brushed his teeth then I gave him a bath and dressed him for school. Then my girl, she is about 8 years old, I gave her a bath. Her hair was so long so I must make her hair dry (I had to dry her hair). After her hair was dried I combed her hair. My eldest son, he is about 11 years old, he will take his own bath and he will also come. Now the time is 9:00. Then I gave them their uniforms, shoes and all the things they need for the school. At 9:15 I gave them breakfast and sent them to school. Now the children went (have gone) to school [and] my husband to [the] office.

Now I and my servant were cleaning the shelf and dining table. Time is 10:30. I went to my children’s school to ask the principal for books. But I had to wait till 11:30. Then I went to see my friend who was ill. At 12:00 I came back to my house. My neighbour came and I chatted with her for about ½ hr. Then my youngest son came at 12:30. I fed him food. He is a slow eater so my time was wasted till 12:45. Then I prayed to God at 12:45. We have to pray to God 5 times per day. This is the second time.

My older children came at 1:00. I gave them lunch and sent [the] three of them to school at 1:30. After that I took my lunch and I gave [to] my servant. Now the time is 2:00. I went to bed to take rest, till 3:00 I slept. Then I woke at 3:00. I went to the kitchen and did some vadai and coffee. My youngest came [home] at 3:30. I changed his uniform dress (changed him out of his uniform) and gave him tiffin and milk and asked him to play. Worshipped God at 3:45 till 4:00. My eldest son and my daughter came. I gave them tiffin, asked them to change [their] dress and play. Now time is 4:30. I took my children’s clothes and I stitched buttons which they have lost and I stitched rags also. Now time is 5:00.

My husband came I gave him tiffin and coffee and I also took tiffin and I gave my servant also. Now time is 5:30. I took my servant to buy vegetables and other things that I need for the next day. About 6:30 I came to my house and did my prayer. Now time is 6:45. I taught my children today’s lessons. At 8:00 I made chappaties and vegetables for night tiffin. The work finished at 9:00. All of us sat at the dining table and took our tiffin. Now time is 9:30, we finished our dinner and went to bed at 10:00. Before going to bed I prayed to God.

Today only I am writing like this. From tomorrow I will write short (briefly).


8th July (Tuesday)

Getting up at 5:00.

Took bath till 5:30

Prayer 5:30 to 5:45

Went to kitchen at 5:45

Finished my work at 7:00

I woke my children at 7:00

I brushed them (their teeth)

7:30 My husband went to office

I gave them bath till 8:30

8:30 to 9:00 Morning breakfast

9:00 to 9:30 I dressed them

9:30 I sent them to school

9:30 to 10:00 Cleaned the shelf

10:00 to 11:00 I took the stones[1] from the rice which I bought from the shop

11:00 to 11:30 Went to my friend’s house

11:30 to 12:00 Take rest and I was reading some magazines till 12:20

12:20 My last (youngest) son came [home]

12:20 to 12:35 I gave him food

12:35 My brother came. I spent till 1:00

1:00 to 1:30 Afternoon lunch with my children

1:30 They went to school

1:30 to 1:45 I prayed

1:45 to 3:00 I was so tired and took rest

3:00 I went to kitchen and did some thosai and coffee till 3:35

3:40 My children came. Till 4:15 I gave them tiffin. I dressed my girl’s hair till 4:30

4:30 I prayed to god

5:00 My husband came from the office. I changed my dress. Myself and my husband went to pictures (cinema) (Mayangu hiral oru Mathu)

9:30 We came to our house. We took dinner and prayed to god and went to bed at 10:00


9th July (Wednesday)

Got up at 5:00

5:00 to 5:30 bath

5:35 to 6:00 prayers

6:00 to 7:15 prepared breakfast and lunch (Thosai and chatni for breakfast, dhall, mas, poriyal and rasam for lunch)

7:30 to 7:45 Serving my husband’s breakfast

7:45 to 8:30 Helping my children to take bath and dressing

8:30 to to 9:00 Giving them breakfast

9:00 to 9:30 Polished their shoes and combed my daughter’s hair

9:30 to 10:15 Arranging my husband’s studying table and dusting the chairs

10:15 to 10:30 Putting (Taking or sending) the clothes to the dry cleaners

10:30 to 11:00 Went to the bank

11:00 to 12:15 I was cutting the grass in my garden. I kept (have) a drumstick tree in my garden. Myself and my servant were gardening.

12:15 to 12:30 I was praying

12:30 to 12:55 I was taking rest

12:55 to 1:30 We were taking lunch (myself and my children)

1:30 to 1:45 I was reading magazines

1:45 to 2:00 I was chatting to Mrs S.

2:00 to 3:15 I was doing (making) some grape squash

3:15 to 4:05 Preparing kesari and pakoda

4:05 to 4:20 Serving the children

4:20 to 4:50 Praying to god

4:50 to 5:00 Giving tiffin to my husband

5:00 to 6:10 Went to the shop to buy vegetables

6:10 to 6:30 Praying to god

6:30 to 8:15 Teaching lessons to the children

8:15 to 8:45 Preparing chappatis and fish

8:45 to 9:15 Taking food

9:15 to 9:30 Praying

9:30 to 9:45 Writing diary

9:45 Went to bed


10th July (Thursday)

Got up at 5:00

5:00 to 5:30 Took bath

5:30 to 6:00 Prayed to god

6:00 to 7:30 Prepared food for breakfast and lunch (roti and masi for breakfast, rice, fish, keerai and rasamfor lunch).

7:30 to 8:15 Helped children to take bath

8:15 to 8:25 Combed my daughter’s hair

8:25 to 8:45  Myself and my children took breakfast

8:45 to 9:45 I finished all my household work and got ready to attend the marriage of our club president’s brother.

9:45 We (myself and three other club members[2]) all of us went. The marriage was very nice. We took food.  We came back at 12:15.

12:15 to 12:45 Took rest

12:45 to 1:30 Served lunch for my children

1:30 to 1:45 Prayed to god

1:45 to 2:15 Stitching a skirt for my daughter

2:15 to 3:00 Took rest

3:00 to 4:00 Prepared coffee and groundnuts

4:05 to 4:30 Gave my children groundnuts, milk and I was also talking with them

4:30 to 5:00 Prayers

5:00 to 6:15 Went to the shop to buy some clothes for uniform, bought some vegetables and went to the stainless steel shop and bought a brush to clean the bathroom

6:20 Arrived back at my house

6:20 to 6:30 Prayers

6:30 to 8:00 I was teaching my children

8:00 to 8:30 Prepared rice and boiled eggs

8:30 to 8:50 Took dinner

8:50 to 9:10 Praying to god

9:10 to 9:30 Writing diary

9:30 Went to bed


11th  July (Friday)

Got up at 5:00

5:00 to 5:30 Took bath

5:30 to 5:45 Prayer

5:45 to 7:00 Preparing food in the kitchen (black gram karhli for breakfast and lunch

7:00 to 7:30 Helping children to take bath

7:30 to 7:45 Giving breakfast to my husband

7:45 to 7:55 Combed my daughter’s hair

8:00 to 8:15 Giving breakfast to children

8:15 to 8:30 Polishing the shoes

8:30 to 9:05 Dressing them and putting on their uniforms

9:05 to 9:35 Cleaning the kitchen shelves and washing kitchen. Today is Friday. I usually wash my house every Friday.

9:35 to 11:55 I washed all my rooms and cleaned all the shelves

11:55 to 12:20 Took rest

12:20 Served my small boy food (fried brinjal kulamboo[3] and potato roast)

12:30: Today is Friday, we must pray at this time. I was praying till 1:00

1:00 to 1:30 Myself and my children took lunch

1:30 to 2:30 I was reading the holy Quran

2:30 to 3:00 Taking rest

3:00 to 4:15 Preparing some batchi for tiffin and coffee

4:15 to 4:45 Giving tiffin to the children

4:45 to 5:05 Praying to god

5:05 to 6:00 Hearing some good songs on the radio

6:00 to 6:30 Praying to god

6:30 to 8:00 Teaching lessons

8:00 to 8:15 Went to the shop and bought vegetables

8:15 to 8:30 Prepared dinner and took our dinner at 9:00

9:00 to 9:15 Wrote diary

9:15 Prayers

9:30 Went to bed


12th July (Saturday)

Today is Saturday. Today my husband’s office has leave. So I got up at 6:00

6:00 to 6:30 Took bath

6:30 to 6:45 Prayer

6:45 to 7:00 I was reading some pages in Holy Quran

7:00 to 8:00 Making breakfast (dhall vadai and chutney)

8:00 to 9:00 Helping children to take bath and dress

9:00 to 9:15 Took breakfast

9:15 to 11:00 Prepared food for lunch (mutton, keema[4], rasam)

11:00 to 12:15 Polished my children’s and husband’s shoes

12:15 to 1:15 Ironed the uniform dresses

1:15 to 1:45 Taking lunch

1:50 Myself and my husband went to Mambalam to purchase some earrings. Then went to Nungambakam to my uncle’s house and to Shenoi Nagar to my relatives’ houses and came back to Shastrinagar at 8:30

8:30 to 9:00 Prepared chappaties and took it till (at) 9:15

9:15 to 9:30 Prayers

9:30 to 9:45 Wrote diary

9:45 Went to bed



13th July (Sunday)

Today is Sunday, so I got up only at 6:30.

6:30 to 7:00 I took my bath

7:00 to 8:00 I prepared breakfast (idiyapam[5] and fruits)

8:00 to 9:00 I helped my children to take oil bath[6]

9:00 to 9:15 We took our breakfast

9:15 to 11:00 I prepared food for lunch (brinjal sambar and beans)

11:00 to 12:00 I was reading today’s [Tamil] magazines (Kumudam[7]) and [news]papers

12:00 to 12:45 I spoke to my husband about our money problem[8]

12:45 to 1:00 I took our lunch

1:00 to 3:00 I took rest

3:00 to 4:15 I made some pakoda tiffin and coffee

4:15 to 5:00 I served my husband and children

5:00 to 6:00 My cousin came and we were talking to him

6:00 to 8:30 I was teaching my children

8:30 to 9:00 I made some maido thosai (dosai) and chutney for night tiffin

9:00 to 9:15 We took our lunch (dinner) with our guest. The guest went at 9:30.

9:30 I went to bed and prayed to god, and slept at 10:00

Today I did not pray in the morning and the other 3 times because today is Sunday, my children are giving trouble. God must forgive my sin


14th July (Monday)

Got up at 5:00

5:00 to 5:30 I took bath

Today I can’t pray because it is period time[9]

5:30 to 7:15 Kitchen, Made egg curry and ladies fingers and rasam. Breakfast rava uppuma and chatni (chutney)

7:15 to 7:30 Breakfast for my husband

7:30 to 8:30 Giving bath for children and dressing them

8:30 to 8:45 Giving them breakfast

8:45 to 9:15 I was teaching them to do their homework

9:15 I sent them to school

9:30: I went to the school to pay the fees. I came home at 9:50

9:50 to 11:00 I stitched some children’s clothes which have no buttons

11:00 to 12:00 I was writing my diary

12:00 to 12:20 I was reading some magazines

12:20 to 12:40 Gave my youngest son lunch

12:40 to 1:30 My eldest (older) children and myself took lunch

1:30 to 3:00 My neighbour and I were doing some embroidery

3:00 to 3:30 Sundal[10] tiffin prepared

3:30 to 5:00 I was serving the tiffin and coffee to all

5:00 to 6:15 I was asking (listening to) some songs on the radio

6:15 to 8:00 I was teaching my children

8:00 to 8:30 Preparing chappaties and potato

8:30 to 9:00 Taking dinner

9:00 I felt so tired and went to bed


15th July (Tuesday)

Today my husband wanted to go to office at 7:00. So I woke up at 4:45.

4:45 to 5:05 I took my bath

5:05 to 6:15 I finished my kitchen work (venthaya kulambu, cabbage and vadacam for lunch, idli and chutney for breakfast)

6:15 to 6:45 I asked my children to study and I taught them

6:50 I gave breakfast to my husband

7:00 to 8:00 I was ironing the uniforms

8:00 to 9:00 I was giving bath and dressing children for school

9:15 I sent them to school

9:30 I wrote a letter to my parents

9:35 My upstairs lady (woman who lives upstairs) came and she was chatting

10:05 My husband came because the institute was on leave. Both of his friends also came. I prepared them tea.

10:15 to 11:00 I was writing diary

11:00 to 11:15 Mrs Caplan came and I spent time with her

11:15 to 12:30 I went shopping to buy rice and provisions

12:30 to 12:45 I fed my last son

12:45 to 1:00 Myself and my husband took food

1:00 to 1:30 I served my older children food

1:30 to 3:15 I was doing some embroidery work

3:15 to 4:15 Making tiffin in the kitchen (kesari and coffee)

4:15 to 4:45 Served my children and husband

4:45 to 5:30 Two guests came. We had a nice time.

5:30 to 8:00 I gave my children tuition

8:00 to 8:15 Night dinner

8:15 to 8:55 Went walking to nearest shop and bought vegetables

9:00 to 9:30 I am writing diary

9:30 Myself and my children went to bed


16th July (Wednesday)

5:45 Got up

5:45 to 6:00 Bath

6:00 to 8:15 Preparing breakfast lunch (Thosai and chutney for breakfast, dhall, rasam, appalam and vadacam for lunch)

8:15 to 9:00 Helped children to take bath and dress

9:00 to 9:30 Took breakfast with my children

9:30 to 11:40 Cleaned my Godrej (wardrobe) and kept my sarees, children’s dresses, my husband’s clothes neat

11:40 to 12:20 I was reading today’s paper and magazine

12:20 to 1:00 I stitched my girl’s uniform skirt

1:00 to 1:30 Lunch with my children

1:30 to 1:40 Ironed my saree

1:40 to 2:10 Took rest

2:10 to 3:05 Played cards with my neighbour

3:05 to 4:10 Made vadai for tiffin and coffee

4:10 to 5:05 Served tiffin and milk to the children who came one by one

5:05 to 6:10 My cousin came and I was speaking with him

6:10 to 7:15 I was preparing fish and chappaties

7:15 to 9:30 Teaching my children

9:30 to 10:00 Dinner

10:00 Went to bed



17th July (Thursday)

5:15 Woke up

5:15 to 5:30 Bath

5:30 to 6:15 Kitchen prepared breakfast and lunch (breakfast: roti and fruits, lunch: rice, fish, keerai, rasam)

6:15 to 6:30 Reading today’s paper

6:30 to 6:45 Serving my husband breakfast

6:45 to 8:30 Helping my children to bath and dress

8:30 to 10:10 Teaching them some home work lessons (today is Aadi[11] 1st so schools start at 10:20)

10:20 to 10:25 Writing diary

10:25 to 12:45 Went to my relation’s house

12:45 to 1:30 Lunch with my children

1:30 to 2:00 Read some magazines

2:00 to 3:10 Rest

3:10 to 4:00 Prepared samosa and juice for tiffin

4:00 to 4:45 Went to school to buy notebooks

4:45 to 6:00 My husband and myself were chatting about L.I.C.[12] which had a fire

6:00 to 8:15 Teaching my children

8:15 to 8:45 Preparing rava thosai and chutney

8:45 to 9:00 Taking dinner

9:00 to 9:10 Writing diary

9:10 Went to bed


18th July (Friday)

5:30 Woke up

5:30 to 5:45 Bath

5:45 to 7:15 Kitchen. Breakfast - black dhall kabzhi and more kolombo; lunch potato roast and rasam

7:15 to 7:20 Serving my husband breakfast

7:20 to 8:15 Helping children to bath and dress

8:15 to 8:25 Took breakfast with them

8:25 to 9:15 Taught them some homework

9:15 to 11:30 Today is Friday so myself and servant washed our house and cleaned all the shelves

11:30 to 12:00 Ironed my saree and children’s clothes

12:00 to 12:40 Reading some magazines

12:40 to 1:00 Writing letter to my parents

1:00 to 1:30 Serving lunch to my children

1:30 to 1:50 Chatting with my neighbours

1:50 to 2:30 Took rest

2:30 to 3:15 Made sundal for tiffin

3:15 to 4:00 Serving tiffin to my children who came one by one

4:00 to 4:30 Went to vegetable shop and bought potatoes and vegetables

4:30 to 6:15 Made puri and vegetable kuruma

6:15 to 7:30 Teaching my children lessons

7:30 to 8:00 Club secretary came and I was chatting with her

8:00 to 8:30 Continue the studies with my children

8:30 to 8:45 Taking dinner with all

8:45 to 8:50 Writing diary

8:50 I was so tired so I went to bed early


19th July (Saturday)

6:00 Woke up. Today my husband has only half day so I must prepare breakfast only in the early morning[13]

6:00 to 6:15 Took bath

6:15 to 7:05 Prepared dhall adai and chutney

7:05 to 7:15 Served my husband breakfast

7:15 to 8:35 Helped my children to bath and dress

8:35 to 9:05 Breakfast myself and children

9:05 to 9:45 Reading papers and magazines

9:45 to 11:45 Prepared lunch (rice, mutton, dhall and brinjal, rasam and curd, pickles

11:45 to 12:25 Helped my husband in his PhD work

12:25 to 12:35 Lunch with my husband and my last son

12:35 to 1:00 Ironed my children’s uniforms

1:00 to 1:20 Served lunch for my children

1:20 to 2:05 Took rest

2:05 to 3:00 Prepared sweet made with rice flour and coconut (kolakattai)

3:00 to 3:05 Prepared tea

3:05 to 4:00 Gave tiffin and tea to children one by one

4:00 to 4:20 Listening to some Tamil songs on the radio

4:20 to 5:35 Prepared chappaties for night tiffin

5:35 to 6:15 All [Tamil] magazines come out on Saturday so I was reading the magazines

6:15 to 8:30 Teaching my children’s lessons

8:30 to 8:50 Dinner (chappaties and mutton)

8:50 to 9:00 Writing diary

9:00 Went to bed


20th July (Sunday


6:15 Woke up

6:15 to 6:45 Took bath

6:45 to 6:50 Prepared coffee

6:50 to 8:30 Helped my children to take oil bath and dress

8:30 to 9:00 Prepared idiyappam and fruit for breakfast

9:00 to 9:20 All of us took breakfast

9:20 to 10:00 Helped my last son to do his homework

10:00 to 11:15 Preparing lunch (rice, keerai, dhall, vadakam, appalam)

11:15 to 11:25 Polishing children’s shoes

11:25 to 12:05 Ironing their uniforms

12:05 to 12:20 Took rest

12:20 to 12:30 All of us took lunch

12:30 to 12:55 Reading magazines

12:55 to 1:10 Chatting with Mrs S.

1:10 to 3:00 Preparing black dhall vadai and tea

3:00 to 3:30 Serving tiffin for my children

3:30 to 4:50 Guest came. We were chatting

4:50 to 7:15 Went to Elliot’s Beach[14] and enjoyed ourselves with our guest.

7:15 to 7:45 Prepared maida thosai and masi

7:45 to 8:10 Took dinner

8:10 to 8:50 Reading magazines

8:50 to 9:00 Writing diary

9:00 Went to bed


21st July (Monday)

5:00 Woke up

5:00 to 5:15 Took bath

5:15 to 5:45 Prayed to god

5:45 to 7:15 Prepared rava uppuma and chutney for breakfast and egg kuruma, ladies fingers roast, rasam for lunch

7:15 Served my husband breakfast

7:15 to 7:20 Reading today’s paper

7:20 to 8:35 Helped my children to take bath and dress

8:35 to 8:50 Took breakfast

8:50 to 9:00 Polished their shoes

9:00 to 9:20 Helped them to do their homework. Sent them to school

9:20 to 12:00 I stitched some notebooks for rough use[15] for the children with the paper which I had [collected] in the last year.

12:00 to 12:20 Gave my last son food

12:20 to 1:00 Hearing some songs

1:00 to 1:20 Lunch with my children

1:20 to1:45 Prayed to god

1:45 to 2:30 Took rest

2:30 to 3:00 My neighbours came and I was speaking with them

3:00 to 3:35 Prepared pakoda and tea for tiffin

3:35 to 4:30 Giving them tiffin one by one

4:30 to 4:50 Praying to god

4:50 to 5:00 Reading magazines

5:00 to 5:15 Dressing to go to Ladies Club

5:30 to 6:05 Purchased rice

6:05 to 8:25 Went to Ladies Club and saw some pictures

8:25 to 8:45 Prepared thosai and chutney for dinner

8:45 to 8:55 Took dinner

8:55 to 9:10 Prayer

9:10 Went to bed

* The banner photograph is of a group of women belonging to one of the organisations studied. It is not a photograph of diarists.


[1] At this time, rice was bought in bulk from shops and often contained small stones which had to be removed before it could be cooked.

[2] All of the other women were Hindus. Although this diarist is a Muslim, she interacts frequently with her Hindu neighbours and fellow women’s Club members.

[3] Kulambu is a stew based on a broth made with tamarind, with two kinds of dal - urad (bean) dal and toor dal, and can also include vegetables

[4] Keema is usually cooked with minced meat, mostly mutton

[5] Idiyappam or string hoppers is a traditional Tamil, Kerala, and Sri Lankan food consisting of rice flour pressed into noodle form and then steamed.

[6] Most south Indians take a more elaborate bath once a week, first putting oil on the head and body, then washing it off.

[7] Kumudam is a Tamil weekly magazine published in Chennai, India. It was founded in 1947.

[8] At this time her husband was studying for a Ph.D. degree and had only a small stipend.

[9] Women are considered impure during their menstrual periods so they cannot do the regular daily prayers or enter mosques

[10] A dish made with chickpeas – it includes grated coconut

[11] First day of Tamil month of Adi

[12] Life Insurance Company. At that time, this was the only high-rise building in Madras. The fire was the talk of the town.

[13] She means that she did not have to prepare his lunch, which he took daily to the office with him, in advance

[14] Elliotts Beach is a large beach south of the Adyar River, not far from Shastri Nagar.

[15] Making her own rough notebooks perhaps indicates their precarious financial state at that time.