A great relationship can flourish anywhere and with anybody and you never know the impact this could have on your life. I still vividly remember that rainy morning when I heard a faint knock on the door while our housemaid was busy with her chores. I opened the door to find a tiny, timid girl standing outside, almost completely drenched by the heavy monsoon rain. She muttered, “I’m looking for Maa”.
Saraswati (fondly known as Sara) was only 12 years old then. She was my housemaid’s daughter. It was the first time I met her. It occurred to me that my housemaid, who would go on and on about her dear son, had never mentioned her daughter to me! “Doesn’t she go to school”, I asked. “Sara keeps running away from school, madam. She ran away today too”, complained Saraswati’s mother about her truant daughter. Sara picked up a broom and started helping her mother. I sternly forbade Sara from doing so. I brought her some of my children’s old school books which were appropriate for her age. She wasn’t interested in books but wanted to do the household chores – something I didn’t allow for. So, she left and wasn’t to be seen in our house for a long time to come.
About 10 years later, during the monsoons, I heard our door bell ring. On opening the door, I saw a woman standing tall, wearing a neatly draped saree and her hair combed back to a tight knot. “Namaskar, madam”, said Sara confidently and with an elegant smile. Many things had changed about her since our last encounter. From being a timid child, Sara had grown into a confident woman. She was a successful small entrepreneur too. She had tried running a tea stall for a while but was forced to shut it down since she didn’t have a permit for it. Then she started supplying afternoon tea to some offices in our neighborhood. That worked, and she made a good earning from it. Sara was married, with two children; her husband drove a school bus.
That day, Sara had come for help. She had kept running away from school and never completed her education. However, she wanted something different for her children – to send them to a good private school. She wanted to a job at our house, as a cook, to use the additional income for their expensive private school education. Sara was hired! We worked out a schedule that allowed her to manage time between her jobs and still attend to the needs of her school-going children.
Fourteen years later, many things have changed. Sara’s daughter has joined an engineering college. In four years, she would become an Electronics engineer. Sara’s son, who studies commerce, works part time in a coaching center that prepares students for competitive examinations. Some things haven’t changed, though. Sara still keeps the officegoers in our neighborhood productive with her piping hot tea. She still cooks for us.
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