It has been a little more than 20 months since we left the previous station. 20 months is a long time. Isn’t it? Apparently, when you are surrounded by smiling faces and happy people, even two years breeze by like Shatapdi. And then, when you are in a place where socializing is done with caution, even a 20 minute window seems like a drag! Now, that brings me to a major issue in hand – It has been a herculean task to find a decent maid in the new station. I still don’t have one. The ones that came were more interested in gossiping and less interested in working and so, had to bid them goodbye.
So, it is here I realized how important a maid is, in a woman’s life. For the past 6 months, I am the maid of my home. The current station doesn’t have adequate maids to employ. And, I have been preoccupied with the one business I have always detested – Housekeeping! However, I do manage the cleaning and moping business well as it has helped me shed a few pounds of weight. But then, there is the cooking followed by washing of utensils. And, while I was dreading the fact that I would never get a maid, a beautiful memory sprang up from a corner of my head. This memory made me smile.
It was 2013. I had just been discharged from Rajshree Hospitals after being treated for an auto immune neurological disorder. And, I had asked the current maid to leave as she did not have the pass to enter our area. So, while I was sitting in the balcony trying to ignore the discomfort caused by my double vision then (yes, it took me 6 months to get back to normal), I saw this 50 something lady look at me and smile. I knew her. She was the maid at my kind neighbor S’s place. A few days passed as we exchanged smiles and glances. The smiling gestures went on for a couple of weeks. One day, when I met her downstairs, I asked her if she could come to my home too for work. The lady gave a beautiful smile and said, “Mujhe koi harz nahi. Ek baar aap neeche wali memsaab se bhi baat karlo, hai na!” On one fine day, I was sitting with S for tea and, I casually asked her if it was OK with her, if her maid worked at my place too. And, my kind neighbor agreed. (Seriously, good neighbors are God’s gift and, I was blessed with two, the other being N) Things worked beautifully because none of us had ego issues and so, aunty ji started coming to my place too.
Aunty ji, popularly known as amma, was a spinster. I once asked her where she was from. And she replied with a beaming smile – “Memsaab, vaise hum south ke hai. Par bahut saalon se hum sab yahin pe settled hai, MP mein…” She had a close knit family that comprised of her sisters and brothers who used to visit her frequently. Her presence in our block was soothing. I once asked her, “Aunty ji….aapne shaadi kyu nahi ki?” and she smiled innocently, “Bas, aise hi…. J” She was warm and bright and yet, we never knew much about her personal life. She lived by herself. She was neat. And, she was religious. We had a Pipal and Neem tree that grew from the same root. She recounted – “Yeh Shiv aur Parvati hai, memsaab….iski puja karna vishesh mana jata hai…” That tree indeed had a serene appearance and, it really felt as if we were right under God’s wings.
Every moment I have spent with her made me accept my life with a better mindset. Even while I was healing, and somewhere during the recovery period, I used to slip into bouts of depression, she would say – “Arre Memsaab, ab sab accha hi hoga…..bhagwan ki dua se sab thik ho jayega”. On some days, she would also chat with my mother who also loved to know about religious customs and traditions followed in her home.
It is not often that you get a maid who talks well, works more and, does not complain about life. On some days when she used to feel sick, she would still come. If I scolded her as to why she had come despite me giving her leave to take rest, she would say – “Memsaab! Ghar pe baithe baithe ajeeb sa lag raha hai. Neend bhi to nahi ati! Kaam karungi, aapse do chaar baatein karungi, mera man laga rahega. Aur fir raat ko sona hi to hai..” Something about her face used to make me happy. And, she loved to spend time with Arjun as he used to constantly chatter away with her.
In life, we meet people whose company teaches a lot about taking life in one’s stride. There were simple things in life that gave happiness like her wishing me in a tune – “Namaste memsaabji…..” I miss that now. I miss the simple human bonding that happens without expectations. I miss meeting people out of my comfort zone and, aimlessly talking to them. I miss knowing people. Maybe, I miss people a lot now.
Auntyji had been of immense help during my recovery period and, the one year that followed later. She was like my backbone, handling every task smoothly. With time, she became a part of our family. Therefore, when we were leaving the place, she was sad. So were we.
A week before we left, it suddenly struck me that I never knew her name. Rather, we all knew her as Auntyji only. And, I asked her –
“Arre Aunty! Do saal ho gaye! Aapne kabhi apna naam nahi bataya mujhe?”
She blushed and said, “Memsaab! Aapne kabhi pucha hi nahi!”
I looked at her and asked, “Ab bata bhi do na auntyji J”
And, she coyly replies, “Pushpa…. Mera naam Pushpa hai”
Wherever you are Auntyji, stay blessed and keep smiling 🙂