Date of birth?

Residential address?

The high-priced, full-service agent scratched my responses laboriously onto a dirty-cream-coloured application form that, when complete, would get me documentation I needed urgently.

Permanent address?

My silence made him look up. “Permanent address?” he asked again.


I was three days old when my mom and dad took me home from the maternity wing of Calicut Medical College. I was 30 days old when my parents left me in the care of my grandparents and went back to Madras, to resume the professional lives I had inadvertently interrupted.


Prem Panicker

Prem Panicker is now into his 30th year as a professional journalist. After working his way through a daily newspaper, a city tabloid and a weekly magazine, he became one of the core team of journalists who founded India’s first standalone internet news portals, Rediff on The Net (later He has also worked as editor of the New York-based India Abroad and as managing editor of Yahoo India. He currently freelances as writer, editor and social media consultant, besides teaching narrative journalism.

View Full Profile

Sign up to our India edition to read this story instantly

To sign up, you’ll create an account that will give you access to a new free story published once a week and archive of 214+ previously published free stories from our India edition. You’ll also receive one email every morning from us introducing the day’s story.

If you’ve already signed up, just enter your email below or login using Facebook or Google.