It was 9.30 in the morning. For the third time in the day, I looked at the watch. Still, no sign of Pinky, my maid. My kitchen sink was full of utensils waiting to be cleaned and the kitchen floor was in an equally pitiable condition, adorned with some leftover vegetable peels. The drawing room too looked like a mess with juice stains that had been dropped by my daughter and paw marks of our four-legged family member, just back from a walk. I felt the urge to give her a call, but knew there would be either no reply or a very familiar voice would greet me informing me the number was currently not reachable or switched off.
As I looked at the watch again it was almost 10, she was already almost an hour late. This time I picked up my mobile in anger and was about to call her when the bell rang. A surge of relief flowed over me as I opened the door to see her standing there.
“Pinky, Phir se late? “ I scolded my maid slightly, still looking visibly irritated.
“Didi, tabiyat thik nahi thi, ulti ho rahi thi!” she said
I looked at her doubtfully. She did look a little pale and unwell. “Kyon, kuch ulta pulta khaya tha kya?” I asked her.
She kept quiet and shook her head in a “No”. There was a slight blush on her face, or was I hallucinating? Was she expecting? The thought crossed my mind like a flash! She had a small 2 year-old-daughter, Payal, and she had told me that she didn’t intend on trying for another child before her daughter turned 5! Also she had been working with me for the past one year, during which she was very regular and on time almost always. But for the past one week, her timings were not maintained and neither did she look the same happy and cheerful self that she always looked. I mustered all my courage and asked her “Kya baat hain pinki…khul ke bolo please”.
She looked at the floor for sometime before replying “Didi, Payal ka bhai ya behen hone wala hain…mujhe kuch din pehle pata chala hain…yeh mera dusra mahina hain, isiliye tabiyat thik nahi lag rahi hain!”
I was a whirlwind of many emotions altogether. A little life was on its way which made me feel very happy but she might not be able to work much longer, that too struck me at the same time! A silence fell between the two of us. Then she said “Didi, aap mujhe kaam se matt nikalo, main kaam kar lungi.” I looked at her, there were unspoken pleading and an earnest request in her eyes. It suddenly took me back to the days when I was expecting my daughter. Those sleepless nights, morning sickness, fatigue, tiredness and still not agreeing to quit my job. In my case it was not to give up on the job I loved, in her case, there was more depth to her willingness. She had to feed her daughter, meet monthly expenses and keep life running. I wasn’t sure how most people would react when their household help would tell them they are pregnant. Would they be asking them to stop working from the point of view of humanity or because they knew now they won’t be very productive anymore. My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by her “Didi, main jhadoo laga lu?” Pinky asked me with concern in her voice as if she could read my mind.
“Nahi” I told her firmly. She looked at me with sadness and fear in her eyes. I moved forward and gave her a hug. “Bahut bahut badhai ho Pinky…yeh bahut hi acchi khabar hain”, I said as I smiled at her. She looked confused but I could see tears in her eyes. Perhaps, she didn’t expect a “congratulations”. “Pinky, aap bartan dholo …ab se jhadoo pocha mat karna aap…and aap chinta maat karo, aapke paise kam nahi honge” I could see both surprise and gratitude in her eyes. She said, “Par didi…phir main jhadoo pocha ke paise kaise le sakti hun?”. I could figure out the hesitation in her voice.
“Thik hain…kabhi kabhi dusting kar dena” I added, just to make her not feel like any favour is being done on her.
My maid stood for at the same spot for a while before finally saying, sometime and said “Didi, main pichle das saal se kaam kar rahi hoon….kabhi kisi ne aisa nahi socha ya bola mere liye…dhanyawad didi..” she smiled. I smiled back and told her “Tum apna khayal rakho, ab jao aur late mat karo…bahut kaam hain mujhe bhi..” As she walked into the kitchen, I tried hard to hold back my own tears. That’s all that was required to bring a smile on someone else’s face, just being a little nice. Every to-be-mother requires help, I did my share to make her motherhood journey a little comfortable, nothing great or out of the way. But it made my day!