Saturday morning. We’re a little relaxed yet awake by 8.30, as my husband has to go to office. I’ve started coffee machine and was about to open the door and pick up morning press, when our melodious doorbell rang. Here she was, – Jaya with the bunch of newspapers at the doorstep, beaming.
This small brown-eyed konkani woman with glowing face would be in mid-30’s. Rayon orange saree and gold earrings gleaming against plump dusky cheeks highlight her frisky girlishness. Married in her teens, she raises two children in one of Pune suburbs and works as domestic help, or as locals say, bai. For half an hour daily she comes to help us home – sweep and mop the floor, dust the surfaces, hang the laundry for drying, do dishes after meals are ready.
I was lazily sipping coffee and enjoying rustle of morning breeze from surrounding hills when Jaya ran in smiling widely:
“Bhabhi, radio mirchi laaga do! Mere ko bahut pasand hai!”
Which literary means “Brothers’ wife*, please turn on radio Mirchi! I like it very much”
Mr. Sharma didn’t even raise his head from newspapers, just giggled, when i went to switch on our newly purchased iHome system in the living room. She enormously enjoys it, and questions why radio’s not working when she lands into morning silence of our home-for-two.
On weekdays Jaya is always late, on weekends – always before time. Daily she turns up with new story to tell. She had to pick up fridge purchased for 4000 rupees from family at Viman Nagar. She went to a temple at 3 o’clock in the morning. There was puja to be performed at home. She went to drop daughter at the bus stand, worried for her first independent trip to Nani’s place.
Today I was making chapatis when Jaya literally jumped into kitchen and hugged me out of sudden. Her daughters’ 12 standard board exam results will be announced today at 11 in the morning, so she couldn’t sleep all night. I hugged her back as i could, – not wiped, my hands were dusty with flour. Jaya understood early on what does it mean to make ends meet without education. With rickshaw-driver husband, who doesn’t bring money home, she is the only one to earn for the family. Not a spoonful of sugar, right?! She ideates a better life for her daughter, grinning: “Study first, get proper job and do not hurry to get married!”
Sometimes i almost get angry when she’s late and new excuse is on the plate. But i can’t hold myself from laughing, consoling and empathising her. And what i like the most, – happy or sad, she’s always smiling. Whatever said and done, – Jaya is the one who makes our home-for-two bustling for half an hour in the morning.