“Good morning.” Kanaka burst into a smile while greeting Deepa.
Deepa simply nodded holding her head between her palms.
Smile on Kanaka’s face vanished like a vapor. She has been working at Deepa’s house as a maid since last week. She had never received such cold response from her.
“Madam, are you not well?”
Sinking herself in sofa Deepa replied, “What do I say Kanaka? There’re monkeys in the backyard again. Will they spare my flower plants?”
Kanaka rushed to the garden and was back in minutes. With glittering eyes, she said, “Madam, your garden is lovely. It can bring joy to an ordinary day.”
“You have not seen our neighbour’s. In comparison, our garden is nothing,” Deepa grumbled while her hands rubbed her temples.
“But, your garden is yours, theirs is theirs,” Kanaka spoke in a subdued voice and went to the kitchen.
Listening to what Kanaka said, Deepa was in deep thought.
“It has ginger.” Kanaka handed over Deepa a cup of tea. She herself sipped from her designated cup sitting on the floor leaning against the doorpost. She narrated Deepa, who was new to the locality, that this part of the town was a jungle earlier.
“So, we’re guests in monkeys’ home.” Deepa spoke with a smile as her headache faded away. She promptly got ready and went to work.
On her way back home, she picked up her daughter from school.
“Mamma, I got distinction, scored 90,” her daughter declared once she got into the car.
“Yay,” Deepa raised her hands in triumph.
“What about Lucy?” Deepa couldn’t resist asking. Lucy was the daughter of her colleague.
“She too got. She scored 92.” Her daughter said with a smile broadening from ear to ear.
Deepa did not wish to hear that.
When would be the day I could show a high chin to my colleague?
She started driving crazy and muttered abuses to a motorist who was trying to overtake her.
Reaching home, she was tempted to call her daughter’s math tutor to pressurize her daughter to work harder. But Kanaka’s words calmed her down.
My daughter’s marks are my daughter’s.
She could sleep better in the night.
Next morning, Deepa greeted Kanaka, who was in her usual self: bright and cheerful.
“Madam I’ve brought a marigold plant for you. It’s my favorite. Your garden has roses, jasmines, sunflowers, but no marigold. We had a lot of it in our village. Here in my tightly packed slum-home, I had space for only two plants. I got one for you,” Kanaka told in one breath.
“Wow! You have a heart of marigold.”
Deepa invited Kanaka to the dining table to have tea.
“No Madam, I’m good on the floor. I will get that cup.”
“Never. You gave me the secret to life. It’s loving what we have; not about worrying how much more others have. There lies the real happiness.”
Both Deepa and Kanaka had the tea filled with joyful conversation.
Maid-Madam hierarchy had its last breath.
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