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shanu pande



shanu pande


Maid In India

Maid In India

4 mins 16.9K 4 mins 16.9K

Whenever I think of Pushpa, I am mesmerized by her sense of time. I had inadvertently nicknamed her 'Time Machine'- her sense of time being just too perfect. Pushpa was the new maid I had hired for doing my household chores. Every morning my eyes flipped open exactly at 6:30 A.M. courtesy to the incessant ringing of doorbell by Pushpa. Incessant because anything less than that would not cause any activity in our sleep-stricken home.

As I grappled daily to drag myself out of bed, there stood Pushpa at my door, vibrant and brimming with energy. Life was never so perfect and time-tuned as now. My day began exactly at 6:30 A.M. with no chance of a minute going haywire. Languidly as I opened the door latch for her every morning, she gushed inside with the energy of a raging bull. The ritual repeated itself every morning while I wallowed in self-guilt to fathom her enthusiasm and my lack of it. She seemed too perturbed to recognize my lethargic state, fearing as if it were contagious and any proximity with me may rob her off of her verve.

Almost every morning I would snap at her, "Why do you start your day so early?"

"Bhabhi (as she fondly called me), I have to go to 5 more houses before reaching my home at 12:30 p.m. and then fetch my kids from school", she would reason. Period. That was it, end of the conversation.

Her chores started with washing a heap of clothes, followed by doing the dishes and finally, cleaning and mopping the floor. All this took her exactly 1 hour and 5 minutes. In between she squeezed her time to devour morning cuppa tea teamed with 2 biscuits. This fool-proof routine replicated itself every day, one could swear by the timing-not a minute, or even a second frittered away. She left precisely at 7:35 A.M., her gait reflective of the same agility and enthusiasm with which she arrived, leaving me benignly stupefied.

Her lowbrow fostering had no bearing on her punctuality and organisational skills-a quality that had me in complete awe of her.

Basanti, another maid acted as a filler whenever Pushpa was away to her native place-Basanti’s frivolous disposition distinctly incongruous with Pushpa’s fastidiousness.

Her lackadaisical attitude coupled with a freakish capriciousness was an undeniable characteristic of her-so much that I had to face a strong opposition from my husband in my choice of hiring her.

What stood Basanti apart was her honest and in-your-face disposition, mistaken most of the times for her brazen cheekiness. Time was never a constraint for Basanti-piquant anecdotes always taking preference over insipid chores. Her ceaseless blabber on mundane topics had her completely oblivious to various errands and commitments that she was bound to.

Life had been callous on Basanti. Her drunkard husband had deserted her for another woman. A flourishing dairy business that she once owned had soured owing to the wayward habits of her husband. Such are the vagaries of time-from being a successful small time entrepreneur she was reduced to a mere house-cleaner.

Basanti’s never say die spirit held her in good stead-she embraced her ill luck with the same grit as she once embraced her roaring small time business, trudging along the path of life with no qualms, no resentment but with an amusing conviction.

Her benevolence came to fore one day with my fondness for her growing manifolds. Me and my husband were away for some work and Jayash (my son) was at home, alone and famished. As if Godsend, Basanti arrived at this very moment and found Jayash sulking in a corner. She removed a crumpled 100₹ note from the knotted corner of her sari and offered it to Jayash to buy some snacks. The incident came to fore a couple of months later when Jayash insisted on getting a pocket money lest the same episode be repeated in future.

When I confronted Basanti and insisted on paying her back, she dismissed the entire incident with a wave of a hand-"Sonu (as she addressed me), had my grandson been there in Jayash's place, would I not give him money to buy snacks? Don't demean me by returning those 100₹."

Her compassion struck me like a bolt, I stole a furtive glance at my husband who invariably bore an expression of utmost reverence in his eyes.

Pushpa and Basanti, two ordinary village belles, each of them displaying inherent qualities uniquely characteristic of them-ignoramus in worldly parlance but infused with traits that illuminated one’s essence.

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