Lead, kindly light
Yesterday began something like this. The doorbell rang. I opened it to see the cleaner taking a bucket of water from the neighbour. Diwali cleaning for the building had begun.
“Bhabhi zara peene ka pani bhi de do.” (Sister-in-law, give me a little drinking water as well)
“Haan, ek minute.” (Yes, in a minute)
So saying, I asked the princess to give him a glass of water while I rushed to get a bucket for him to clean the landing. When he was done, she asked me why he always rang our doorbell for a glass of water. I replied telling her that because he knew we obliged and the others did not, perhaps that’s why.
The maid came in half hour late. When I quizzed her, she broke down saying her brother was hospitalized and needed blood transfusion. She asked me for the money that she had been saving with me over the past year. The cost of the transfusion was way more than what she had saved. I quietly slipped the balance in her hands and asked her to leave for her village immediately. The princess saw all but said nothing. I had no clue I was being watched. Both of us went back to the mammoth task of Diwali cleaning.
Now there are two lesser fortunate girls that stay in our building compound. The other kids don’t play with them. However I encourage the princess to do so. So she is the only friend they both have. Anjali knocked the door at about 4 in the afternoon and asked for the princess. I left them to talk as I went about my chores. The daughter came in and asked if she could go down for some time. I was only too glad for some solitude.
It was 6 pm and I had promised her a Karaoke night. I called out to her from the balcony and she was up in a jiffy. I packed her off to the shower while I got ready myself. Just then the bell rang for the umpteenth time. I really hate being the ‘beck and call’ girl, but the bell had to be answered. Gauri and Anjali were standing at the door. They had something hidden behind their backs. I tried to gently prod, but they wanted an audience with the princess. I told them that she was in the shower and whatever the message was, I would pass it on. Reluctantly, they handed me a pack of Lays and Kurkure respectively and said that this was for the daughter.
I smiled, “Aur mere liye?” (and for me?)
They looked up with large limpid eyes, “Aunty, yeh usko thank you bolne ke liye hai.” (Aunty, this is to tell her thank you)
Looking at the question mark on my face, Gauri spoke first. “Aunty, usnne mujhe chaniya choli diya Diwali ke liye aur matching shoes bhi”, (Aunty, she gave me a chaniya choli for Diwali alongwith matching shoes) she had an elated smile.
Anjali added, “Aunty, kal mera English ka paper hai na, toh usne mujhe sikhaya bhi aur mera test bhi liya. Ab mera paper accha jayega. Aunty usko thank you bolna.” (Aunty, Tommorrow is my english paper na, she taught me and took my test also. Now my paper will go well. Aunty tell her thank you.)
For some reason, the girls were a little blurry as I took the snack packets and shut the door. Suddenly all was clear as the tears made their way through expensive face make up.
When the daughter was out from her luxurious bath, I handed her the snack packets saying the girls bought them for her. She nonchalantly shrugged her shoulders and asked me to hurry up else we would be late for the Karaoke.
“What? I did the same thing that you did this morning. You only said na we must be kind, especially to those in need………” her voice broke off mid way as she went looking for her shoes.
And as I readied to head out, I made a mental note that kids learn not by words but by actions. And they pick it most at the time when you are not trying to teach them. They eventually become not who you want them to be, but who you are in reality.
Vinita Bahl Crasto is a mother to a divalicious 10 year old. A freelance writer, she loves to be referred to as the Domestic Goddess. Read her at http://blogwatig.blogspot.in