Everyone Loved Maji
Everyone Loved Maji
The landline started ringing. Maji picked up the phone. Even before she could say “Hello”, the voice from other end burst out, “ Maji, I cannot live in this house not even one second more. It is all over now” Now she was crying bitterly.
Maji talked in a velvet-like, soft, kind voice, “Sulu, hold on a second. First, take a deep breath and tell me what happened”
Sulu did not realize that Maji had recognized her voice even before she had said. She continued to talk between her sobs,” See, Maji, every day I stand in queue for one hour and get the vegetables. In this lockdown days, many masalas are not at all available. So I had to cook only with what is available. Despite this, he is shouting at me that my cooking is not good. The whole day I am working like a donkey, washing clothes, tones of the vessel and then sweep and mop the house ….” She continued her complaints.
Maji said, “Sulu, in this lockdown period everyone is depressed. Your husband has to pay all his staff, but he is not able to go out to do his business. There is so much stress everywhere. You should….”
Even before she finished Sulu cried,” But Maji, he cannot blame me. I am also sitting at home without my office work and….”
Maji answered patiently, “That is what I am trying to….” Maji’s talk was interrupted by a loud screaming of some kids near her. Then Sulu heard Maji talking to someone, “Hey you kids, how many times I am telling you not to fight” Then there were voices of two kids blaming each other over some toy. One of them said,” Priya purposely disturbed my Lego game. So I am going to put this red ink on her drawing and ruin it” Now another girl was screaming,“ Dadi, help, help,” Then there was another voice which said sternly, “ Both of you kids, get out of Dadi’s bed just now. Oh, God!! You spilled the red colour all over her bed? ” Now children screaming was heard.
Sulu hearing all this on the other side said, “Oh God, Maji, they spilt ink on your bed?’’ Maji laughed, and replied, “It is OK Sulu, and they are only children. What is use in shouting at them! It is ok!, The bedsheet can be washed. If the stain persists, I will cut and make bags out of the sheet Or I can make dozens of face mask and distribute it free“ She laughed again,
Sulu said, “Maji, you have too much patience,” Maji said, “Sulu life is much, larger than the small incidence. Today, your husband could have shouted at you at a moment of frustration only. It is not that he is angry with your cooking. But, if you sit and cry like this, what about your kids? Did you feed them or not?” Sulu said in an apologetic voice, “OH, God! I forgot. I will straight away feed them. Thank you, Maji for your time”
The line went dead. The maid and Nurse watching all this smiled. The maid kindly asked, “Maji will you have your soup now?” Maji nodded. Her secretary and student Ritu, standing nearby started raising Maji’s bed for a comfortable sitting position, with the remote.
It was three PM and Maji’s lunch break was over. The telephone started ringing. It was now a young software professional Ankita. She complained about how she was overloaded with work, as three of her co-workers were down with Corona, and hospitalized, and her boss was heartlessly loading her with work, driving her mad.
Maji was listening patiently when suddenly she exclaimed in between, “Oh God, What a wonder! Finally, this yellow rose has flowered. After taking so much trouble, my efforts had paid off. See Ankita I am now walking in my garden and you know…..”
Ankita asked with surprise,” Maji you have a rose garden? How wonderful!” Maji answered, “Yes Ankita, but many of the rose plants I have to keep in pots only. So they require constant attention. Many times I have to lift the pot to a Sunlight area, as you know the roses require a lot of sunshine. .and…” The conversation continued five minutes about plants etc. Then, Maji exclaimed, “Oh God, Ankita, what were you saying? I completely missed it “. Ankita now answered in a calm voice, “It is OK Maji not a such a big problem, If you can take so much trouble for a rose plant, I can work harder and finish my job. Thank you, Maji for your time” She disconnected the call.
Five more distress calls came, and Maji handled all of them with such dexterity and motherly love that all the callers were satisfied.
It all started about three months back. One day the Face book friends were surprised by a post which said, “Ready solution for anyone and everyone. Please call no xxxxxx for a free consultation” One lady just called the number just for the heck of it, when she was irritated with her mother- in- law. She was surprised at the counselling she received.
Words spread and everyday ladies in distress started calling her. Right in the beginning only she had told them not to call her as Madam or Aunty but call her “Maji”. No one knew her real name or any details about her, as she refused to disclose any personal information. Her landline was also kept confidential by some special request to the MTNL office. Day by day the number of calls and increased people have to wait to get their calls. Her name became the talk of the town.
It was a Sunday. It was a no-call day. As usual, the nurse, maid and Ritu together sponged her, dressed her up, and placed pillows at different points for comfort. Suddenly Maji showed signs of chest pain. The nurse rushed and gave her the pills prescribed by the doctor and telephoned the doctor. She was told that the usual doctor had joined the hospital for treating COVID-19 patients. But his substitute, arranged by him agreed to visit.
Dr Smita visited the patient. Studying her medical file and after checking her up she gave an injection and Maji fell into a deep sleep. She came to the front room to discuss the condition of the patient to Ritu and the Nurse. She fell into conversation and was amazed to hear how Maji keeps herself cheerful and occupied by helping the women in distress.
Ritu said, “Doctor, until one year back Madam was working in the university As the head of the Psychology department. Her husband and two children were all famous doctors and the family was happy. It was fate that while returning from their short holiday, their car met with a serious accident in which except Madam all three died on the spot. Madam was grievously injured but she survived. After six months of hospitalization, she came back. But her total body below her hip was paralyzed. By luck, the hands had survived a little, and she could make some restricted movements.
I was her secretary at the university, and seeing my Madam’s plight I quit my job and my hostel and decided to live here with her with the Nurse and maid. Madam, though paralyzed, wanted to do something constructively. She read about the suicide of some young boys and girls during this lockdown, due to depression she decided to open a distress line
Madam says instead of advising the frustrated people, we should divert their attention to some other situation, for a few seconds, and by that time their mind calms down. Even suicidal tendency can also be dissolved, by talking distracting topics for some time.
Dr Smita was speechless. A lady who had lost all her loved ones in stroke and also become invalid and bedridden is thinking of helping people to overcome their tension. She asked, “But, no one knows about her state? No one has tried to visit her?’’
The Nurse explained, “Maji keeps her identity a secret. No cell phone and her landline is also not traceable”
Ritu added, ” You know, according to the situation, when she is on a call if she signals, myself and Nurse will mimic the voices of small children fighting etc, The caller on the other side thinks that Maji has a large family with grandkids, a huge garden with flowers etc. All these rich imaginations are created to divert the caller’s mind with a topic”
Dr Smita’s eyes welled and swallowing her tears she said, “Maji like people are the real living Gods, in this universe. I pray to God that He gives her strength and good health”
Maji woke up from her sleep and called,” Ritu, is there any call for me?”
All three of them rushed in and Ritu said smiling, “Maji today is Sunday and is reserved only for us. I want to sing some songs which I had practised and you have to listen to them”
They all looked at the wrinkled, accident scarred face, of Maji as she smiled broadly and said,” O God, Your horrible song!. OK, Only one song” Her energy caught up with everyone and all started laughing.
Next day was Monday and the telephone started ringing as usual and Maji picked up the call.