My evening walks are a source of happiness and relaxation, especiallythe stretch along the famed Bellandur lake which attracts a huge variety of birds at dusk. I take a detour later to the Sobha promenade, mixing with the other walkers- old and young alike. My tea stop is usually at the club house; after which I proceed to jump into the vast blue pool. After an invigorating swim, I would walk the last stretch and head back home.

I used to watch this new apartment construction coming up rapidly. My current landlord wanted to sell his apartment and I was going to be homeless soon.One evening, I went inside to have a dekko. That was when I saw her, sitting demurely at the gate, a soft looking smooth-cheeked young Nepali lady. Fine featured, yet so simple to look at, she was dressed in a plain churidar. Fish eyed beauty withmermaid locks, I thought to myself.

I asked for the watchman. “Sirji, ek minute,abhibulathihoon,” she said coyly and scampered off. I did not want to trouble her, but couldn’t see anybody else. She ran up the stairs and was back in a minute. ‘Please wait,’ she gasped and dashed off to the basement. Like a tennis ball on a rebound, she was back ina second and ran up this time!

In a flash again, she was back,triumphantly announcing, ‘Sir my husband is coming.’ I was impressed by her eagerness to help and the will to serve without any expectations. She didn’t even know why I wanted to see the watchman.

He came and smilingly asked, “Sir, I am the watchman.How can I help?”

“I am looking for a rented apartment; can you advise if there is a vacant one around here,” I asked.

He showed me a lovely 4th floor unit overlooking the lake. I fell for it and the owner was called. We finalised the deal quickly.I thendecidedtoask the lady to help out in the house hold work– theWife could do well with a decent lady of hercalibre.

We quietly and quickly moved in. My first job was ofcourse to get the gal on work. Kunvanti is her name, so aptfor her well-mannered nature. The Wife hit it off with her like milk and honey and the bonding between them grew steadily.

On my return in the evenings, it became a regular feature for her to sing about the girl’s virtues of obedience, hard work and their friendly chats. The Wife would talk while Kunvantiwould listen in rapt attention, never questioning anything even if it sounded irrational.

She had two adorable girls, aged four and six,who ran around the apartment block, giggling. Her two-year-old boy was such a doll – chubby cheeks and a drooling mouth. One could not resist pecking at his rosy cheeks.While he was always smiling at each passer-by, II was happy because God was smiling in the heavens. All was fine and I was busy trying to concentrate on my work.Until, Damar the husband, quietly dropped a huge bombshell one day, he said “Sirji, am moving my family back to Nepal.I plan to continue farming there as it isdear to me. This watchman’s job is so boring. I plan to move out in a couple of months soplease organise another maid.”

My senses crashed and all I could think of was the Wife- wailing and muttering about her bad luck. I was sure therewouldn’t be dinner today, and my friend Swiggywould be the recourse. I went to her with the breaking news. She went pale and then turned blue. She beat her bosom and let out a moan. “Relax darling,” I said,“Kunvanti has arranged for her friend Jamuna who lives close by. No need to be so hopeless.”

She cheered a bit and sighed with relief, saying, “Hopefully she is a Nepali lass.” I nodded to comfort her, but really didn’t have a clue.

TheShakespeareantragedy wasn’t over yet; the depression continued till Jamuna sauntered in a few days later. She started earnestly the next day onwards – a sweet natured Nepali girl –and, in no time,a new friendship between the women bloomed. I began to hear stories about Jamuna, the ever helpful maid and how well she cleaned the house. The Wifeeven gave her the old mobile for use– with a rider, of course.Use it while in service only. All was well again and God smiled mercifully on us mortals.Slowly,Kunvanti’s stories faded and the ever smiling, beautiful Jamunabecame the apple of the eye.

One fine day, the Wife said, “Don’tworry dear, when I am away in Hyderabad, she will cook for you. She has agreed to come early morning too.”My wife was planning to take care of dad in my native town. “Oh that’s sweet of her, can I see her once since she comes only in the afternoons when I am away. I want to thank her,” I responded.

So the meeting was fixed at 4pm and I was supposed to go home for fifteen minutes.On the D day, as luck would have it, though, I got held up in a site meeting and it was a no show. I entered the house guiltily at 8pm, fearing a strong back lash. The Wife’s face was set and solid. I apologised and she gave mea look that sent a chill down my spine.

However, a few moments later, she said, “Good you didn’t turn up. What a cheeky little thing! What does she mean by coming all decked up like a bride? You should have seen the truckloads of lipstick, powder and rouge on her cheeks. The hairclips on her hair and the bright yellow canary dress with thin dupatta. Gosh, I was shocked! Is that a way to impress someone and by the way, why she coming like that to see you? Tell me?”

I didn’t know what to do! I tried to talk sense, “But, honey, how do I know that? I have never seen the little girl. May be she was excited with the thought of seeing a senior man. Leave it now. These young girls are not mature anyway.”

“I told her not to come tomorrow onwards,” She said and then she wailed again. “Oh I don’t have a maid anymore and no one bothers about this poor lady.”God was surely not smiling this time around and I was wondering if dinner would be served.

Just after this drama, the Wife left for Hyderabad for two months. I was wifeless and maid less. Food and cleaning the house became a pure challenge.
Enter Rekha, the 3rd Nepali beauty.

The house took a dusty shade with piles of unwashed utensils lying for days, with soiled clothes added on. Woolly spiders were marching around – spider man would have felt at home. The bathroom cried for mercy before any attention was heeded to it. A bachelor’s pad would have mocked at this abode of a much married man.

Knock, knock came the sweet sound. There she stood, a cute Nepali lass, “Uncle mujhe watchmanjibeja, kaamkeliye.” I can cook and clean well she said sweetly. It was sounding heavenly, and I silently thanked him. Since I had a good impression of her, I signed up immediately and stared work the next day. Feeling much relieved, I sent a message to the Wifebut there was no reply. I felt uneasy, maybe she didn’t like me appointing her maid. But…I was desperate here.

Rekha would come at 7am daily and do the house hold chores.It was great to see a pleasant face and have someone to chat with.The house had been so empty with the Wife away. Rekha would make tea and go about her other work, finishing in half an hour to report in a nearby apartment.

Initially, she was quiet and gave answers only when I asked her questions. She had a one-year-old baby girl andher husband worked in the temple, nearby, distributing Prasad and helping with other activities.

Over time, she got bolder and conversed more, talking about her dad and her granddad, who was a watchman. It was a good half an hourspent each morning chatting with this youngster. Her goals and aspirations are so different and fresh –mirroring those of the typical millennials. Days moved on quickly.

Rekha used to bring an old five litre used plastic bottle that had been discarded. Diligently, she would fill water from the water filter and carry it home. I watched this for days and said, “You know it is dangerous to use the old plastic bottles don’t you.The particles get into the water, causing serious contamination. So why don’t you get a steel container?

“Uncle ji, I don’t have so much money to invest, so I will have to make do with this” She said, sadly. I decided to give her a 5 litre milkcan. You should have seen the joyous expression on her delighted face. She thanked me profusely. “Let me make you a nice dish.What will you have for breakfast?” she asked. I told her that my favourite is egg burji. She quickly whipped up a deliciousburji, a bit spicy, but so tasty.

I went to Shanghai for a week and the day I returned, theWife was also scheduled to arrive home. She was introduced to Rekha that morning and I ceremoniously sang praises of her housekeeping skills. She did a polite Namaste. I gave her the Shanghai sweets saying that they were for her baby girl.

And what was the Wife’s reaction? Well, with a stern face, she simply said, “Oh I don’t like her, she is too beautiful. That’s why the home is a mess. I don’t want her! Tell her not to come from tomorrow.”

The next day I heard the familiar words echoing loudly “I don’t have a maid and no bothers about this poor lady”
And the saga continued….


Venu Rao
Peacock Group

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