Every now and then, I look outside the window and feel lucky.
The lady who works as a maid at our place has two young girls: one is four and the other is two. She tells me she has another 18-year old girl who was married off a couple of years ago. Her four-year old falls ill quite frequently. This lady - she is called Fotubai - lives with her younger daughters. She puts vermillion in the parting in her hair, wears fancy bangles, suggesting she has a husband. But she doesn't stay with any man. I have been told that she has had many husbands and boyfriends, but at the moment, she doesn't have a man in her life.
The father of her young girls has been fighting with her to take his kids away. During one of her visits, my mom learnt from her that she had been in a physical altercation with the man the previous day. Mom suggested she take help from the police, and a couple of days later, we learnt that the man made a visit to the lock-up.
I am not in love with Fotubai, but I admire her guts, and deep down, I feel for her. Ain't I just plain lucky to not have been born like her?
Fotubai is like one of those annoying maids you see on TV. And since I am bad at handling any domestic help, I find her more annoying. And the lady talks just too much. The other day, she came in a little late, all acting important. Her first words on entering the house were, "Didi, idhar kya kiya hai!"
She: Masjid tha, mandir bana diya hai.
She went on to say a lot more but I had stopped listening; I was giggling. I turned to her and said, "Idhar thode hi na, Ayodhya mein hua hai." Her face fell and she sighed, "Oh, yahan nahi?"
Every time she watched the news at somebody's place, she would come and narrate it to me in her own special way, always missing out on the place and the people, and focusing on the act. Soon, she realized that I rarely moved my eyes away from the computer screen, and gave up trying to have a conversation with me.
Amidst her chaotic monologues, I managed to filter some of her personal information, and offered her solace, advice, or apples and horlicks. I didn't want to get involved. Like most of us, I did not want to get caught up in "their" lives. And yet, something struck me yesterday. Her daughter's illness has been a cause of concern for long. A doctor relative of a sympathetic lady she works for has prescribed medicines recently, and the medicines have helped the kid. From what I understand, Fotubai has consulted only quacks in the past. Yesterday, I wondered if I couldn't go beyond the occasional sympathy and give her a little more. I told A that I was planning to take her daughter to a doc. His reaction: go ahead, and also ask the doc if he can do something about Fotubai's pitch. We had a hearty laugh.
I wonder how life would be if I was born Fotubai. I don't know if I should thank God or blame him for the difference in our lives.