Thursday, June 13, 2024
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How often?

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By Ananya S Guha

For over twenty years she has cleaned the house, swept the floor, scrubbed it and washed utensils. She does her “job” to perfection. Utensils glint, the floors shine, things and books are meticulously arranged and rearranged; spick and span. Even a tiny waste is not spared, if it is a scrap of paper it is consigned peremptorily to the waste paper basket. Her time of arrival is 7.30 a.m sharp. And departure? Anything 12 noon to 12.30 p.m. Sometimes she butts in even in the evenings to “complete my work” as she modestly says.

No mumble, no grumble. Wrinkles etched on her face she is the epitome of devotion. She loves my daughter as she would her own. She reminds her gently to take her school bag, drink her milk. When I complain about her late habits and errant ways she smiles and says, “Children will be children” and offers her kwai, which the grubby hands of my daughter gratefully accepts!

I have only seen a benign smile wreathed across her face these two decades. A smile which has weathered the storm of living in a decrepit tenement with her sister and her children! In the afternoons and evenings she assists in her sister’s makeshift “shop” selling betel nuts and other items. ( I did not care to find out what they are).

And when I rush to office there is always a gentle reminder with an admonitory tone – have you taken your mobile, your wallet? Yes Kong thanks and I tear away. Do I ask have you eaten your breakfast, drank your tea?

We humans always take others for granted, be it our species or animals. Of course we complain a lot and pray a lot. We take for granted the workers in our house whom we arrogantly call “servants” and impugn them with diatribes and accusations. We forget we are servants especially when we blandish our bosses to extract flagrantly a flavor. We kick the bodies of animals and the souls of human beings. We are livid when there are scars in our mind, but forget with abject and ruthless convenience the scars we inflict on others.

The other day our dear Kong accidently broke a cup or a plate. A pall of gloom darkened her charismatic face. She apologized profusely with almost tears enveloping her placid face. In the evening she came back to do the same; her conscience visibly shaken.

How often do we do likewise?

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