A young widow and loving mother, she struggles with poverty to feed her small family
but manages to leave simple and nutritious food for her son, Vijay, every day on his return from school. Having to care for her son alone makes her more protective of him. She runs a sari stall in the Barco street market, which Maggie come across while exploring and buys some of her bright fabrics. As a seller in a tourist trap, she speaks English too. She is kind and genuine, shooing away a begging child who has frightened Paul while the couple are shopping.
Padma can just about afford to send Vijay to school in the next village, taught by Anton. She sees that Ruby has done a test on her son without permission and asks her to leave their house. Gabriel gives the family money to help them because he blames himself for her husband's death about 5 years earlier. She later throws it back in his face when she comes to complain at the hospital, showing her independence. When the results come back, Ruby returns to tell her the news and Padma is able to forgive the young doctors.
They meet again when queuing for the buses to Kochi, where Padma is much more friendly towards Ruby. She purposely directs her son to say 'hello'. On the short journey, the lead vehicle crashes and many passengers are killed or wounded, including the Kholis. Padma has hit her head. She has a large, but not serious, bleeding gash and has lost sight of Vijay in the chaos. Ruby is on the scene and checks on her before hunting for the boy. Gabriel is sent to treat survivors and consoles Padma (in a deleted section of this scene) when they find Vijay hurt. She is so distressed that Marcus has to hold her back. Padma rides in the ambulance with her critically injured son, who survives thanks to Ruby's quick actions. While Vijay is in surgery Mari cleans and repairs Padma's wounds, assuring the mother that he is in good hands.