I feel a gentle pat on my shoulder and an even gentler whisper in my ears “Didi, wake up. Your tea.”
I open one eye and fumble for my mobile to check the time. 7.30 am!!
That’s when I open both my eyes and sit up straight. Gosh! I was supposed to wake up at 5.30 am and I am only 2 hours late. The Tullu Pump! I forgot to switch it on!!!
I call out her name. She appears in no time. I ask her if she managed to fill the water in the tank. She nods and smiles. Thank God!
I pick up my cup of comfort and place myself comfortably in the veranda, to apricate under the glorious morning sun. I let the warmth of the winter sun permeate my entire being. I love this part of the day. It cleanses the senses from all the negativity of the previous day.
She joins me in the veranda with her cup of tea. We both drink our tea in silence. I prefer it that way in the morning. I can sense she wants to say something. There is hesitation in her body language. But I avoid initiating a conversation.
A few sips later, she finally speaks up in a hushed tone “Didi did you bring back the plate you had taken yesterday to your Chachi’s place?”
I miss a beat at the unexpected questioning thrown in my direction.
I dodge her gaze and shake my head conveying a NO. I reply plainly “Will get it later in the evening.”
“No, it’s ok Didi. I will get it later. I was just checking. I realized one plate was missing when I was placing the utensils in their respective racks.”
She gulps down the remaining tea from her cup in haste, rushes to fetch the broom and starts cleaning the house.
Me…I just sit there and chuckle at our Q&A session.
Before you begin to feel dizzy due to any sort of confusion, I will help you with the details.
To begin with, the lady in question is Anita. The caretaker of this house. Her family has been given an outhouse at the back of our house. Basically, she lives at a stone’s throw distance. I am in my parental farmhouse for a few days. My parents have worked all their life in Nainital and continue to live there except during the winter season. They keep shuttling between this farm and Nainital. In their absence Anita takes care of this house and everything that belongs to this house. I prefer to visit the farm during the winters and avoid the biting cold of Nainital. I like it here for various reasons.
My kids are not restricted within the confines of the four walls, here. They do not crave for fresh air or a balcony. They are free here from all those limitations. I have many cousins and relatives residing at an arms distance.
Having said that, it’s not always charming. Staying in a high-rise building, I take many things for granted. For instance, a 24-hour water supply or power supply! Here, these essentials cannot be taken for granted. Water is supplied in the wee hours of the morning and even before the orange hues of the sun begin to fill the sky, the water supply stops. During winters it is quite a struggle.
My parents are used to this routine. They wake up around 4.30-5.00 am, fill the tanks and water bottles and that’s how their day begins. You may find them dozing off on the sofa around 8.00 am, though. In their absence, Anita takes care. She really does. Initially, when I came here, I thought waking up at 5.30am, would bring about the much-needed discipline in my life. Although on most days I do manage to wake up, sometimes I do err. Like today. But nothing misses Anita’s eye. She realized I was not up and did the needful. And this is a lady who has two small kids as well.
Before I tell you more about Anita, let me give you a background check on the plate that she was questioning me about. So, day before, I made SAAG in the evening and wanted to share some with my cousins. Since it was very hot, I placed the bowl on a steel plate and parceled it to their house. In our PAHADI middle class household the concept of sharing food is more like a culture thing. Barring DAAL RICE, we end up offering everything from our kitchen to the neighbor. And keeping a track of our kitchen utensils is also a part of our job card.
I totally lack this skill set though.
But Anita…as I mentioned earlier, nothing misses her eye. I can only imagine her inner tussle in the last 24 hours before she garnered the courage to ask me about the plate!!!
Even though, a careless person like me is in charge here currently, my mother back in Nainital knows that as long as Anita is around, there is very little she needs to fret about.
Anita isn’t the brightest worker you shall find. She has her own limitations. But she is sincere, which by the way is a virtue, largely extinct. And you can trust her. You can trust her enough to let her take care of your house and the people in it in her own idiosyncratic way. Since she has assumed the role of the caretaker, she will not allow a single plate or a bowl or even a spoon to disappear from this house!
And I find this quite endearing. I think it makes her unique.
If we look, look close enough, and look without the filters, we will find that so many people around us do things that need a gentle pat or a simple word of appreciation. They may not measure up to our expectations on several individual parameters but if we just take a step back and observe them, am sure we will all, marvel and not just chuckle looking at the big picture.
Leaving you with that thought. Have a great weekend!
PICTURE CREDITS : webstockreview.net