My comic strip character Suki has had a precarious career. She started life in The Sunday Observer in Bombay, in 1982, in a strip I called Doubletalk. She lasted four years. Then in Delhi, in 1992, she appeared six days a week in The Pioneer. She lasted five years.
In both papers, her patron was the late, great Vinod Mehta, whose fondness for comics and his willingness to promote local talent was legendary. Then Vinod left to start Outlook and the paper went downhill. Friends would ask, "Why did you stop Suki?" and I would answer, "because The Pioneer stopped paying free-lancers." They'd look blank, as if to say, "What does money have to do with comics?" And I'd smile, explaining tiredly that cartoonists, just like anyone else, need to Earn A Living. Then we'd all shrug and look away.
Nineteen years passed. Even though people said they missed seeing Suki, no editors were willing to offer space in their papers. Until July 2015. Sandhya Rao at The Hindu's Business Line asked me, over coffee, if I'd like to write for the paper. When I said, fully expecting rejection, "What about a comic strip?" she beamed sunnily and said, "Why not!"
She asked editor Mukund Padmanabhan (no relation), Mukund agreed enthusiastically, we met, we talked, we drank more coffee and…
Here she is again! As feisty, fuzzy-haired and frowning as ever, appearing on the Edit Page in a strip titled Suki Yaki.