Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lovely Neighbours

A four and a half foot wall separated us. At that wall, we gossiped, exchanged sweets and the kids on either side jumped over to pick up a ball.

Every morning, before work, the man of the house went to the big temple in the city. He moonlighted as a restorer and real-estate agent of old heritage homes. There was some talk of him having a woman in one of those places. His wife was from a rich family. She was a great cook, a strict mother and a capable homemaker. The eldest kid was a very serious boy, bad in studies, deeply in love with a rich cousin and her father’s business. The daughter used to practise classical singing. That hour was a bad one for us. There was a younger son, a six year old who used to bawl a lot and walk around in nothing but his underwear. There was a servant girl, of the same age. She used to wake up at five and worked the whole day; she swept and wiped, inside and outside; washed the clothes and the utensils. She seemed healthy. She got decent meals and a place to sleep, on the floor in the storeroom near the kitchen, ‘boarding and lodging’ that was the term for it. She got the kids’ old clothes too. She was from their village, they told us; she would have faced abuse and worse, they said. The girl had a shy smile. She wore a red ribbon which somehow contrasted well with her large dark eyes. When she was ten, she was sent away to her village. She had come of age, they told us; too many men in the house, they said.

No comments :

Post a Comment