Sometimes I think Oprah should interview her. My household help, S, that is.
Hitherto the subject of many blog posts here, and who now actually has a kind of following.
For one thing, she is much more interesting. Than Aishwarya Rai or Parmeshwar Godrej.
Has tolerated a lot in her life, struggled a lot, found solutions on her own, kept her family together. Is greatly popular with her daughters-in-law, and she also supports her only daughter who returned home after a fraud marriage. In an area where every alternate house has someone addicted to drinking and beating, and fighting, she, by popular demand, is the president of the local womens' association. She is also the treasurer, despite being unable to read and write. She also knows about Google, and that it gives some answers to things, and often asks me to check out stuff for her, when someone tries to mislead her.
Last evening my daughter and I attended the first birthday party of one of her grandsons. We had attended that of her eldest grandson 5 years ago, and this was the 3rd grandson. He was born last year and I had blogged about it here.
S. kind of checks out her plans with me, whenever there is to be some kind of get together. Now that she, her 3 sons, her daughter and a daughter-in-law were working, time was at a premium, and the money situation was better. She said her sons had decided to order out for some Chicken Biryani from a local eatery. She knows I am a vegetarian, but she also knows the daughter eats everything, and loves chicken.
My daughter and S go along way back. S has been with us, since the last 25 years. When my daughter was learning baking as part of her vocational course. S was presented with an iced birthday cake baked by her, with her name on it, probably the first birthday cake of her life. She thought it was really special, took it home, her family was totally amused, and her aged mother was impressed.
Armed with a cartoon cake and a small cricket set, we landed up a bit early, since the daughter is obsessed with running these days, and would be going for that later. S. had put up lights outside the house. The birthday child's other grandparents had come in from Pune, and the main and only small room of the house was agog with folks, with the younger women bustling around and the sons organizing seating et al outside , while keeping an eye on the playing children. Every one , along with the kids and birthday boy, would gather at the Community Buddha Vihar later, pay their respects, and would enjoy the ordered special community meal.
We were introduced to all the daughters-in-law (I already knew the sons), aunts, uncles, and relatives. My daughter, who always moves around with her camera, took some family pictures, with S holding the birthday boy, amidst all. S's son also took a few pictures of us with the birthday boy. The kids kept "accidentally" gravitating towards the cake, since one of them found out it had a cartoon face. By popular demand, this cake was cut amidst the kids. The eldest grandkid, who is obsessed with history and swords, held the cake knife in a warrior pose and was slowly dissuaded to hand it to the birthday kid, who was helped by his parents, to cut it. No messing around, no smearing of faces with the icing , and S. had the daughters-in-law do the distribution, but not before, one of the restless grandkids, decided the stuff on the knife shouldn't be wasted and decided to lick it up.
Some more aunts appeared. S.'s own daughter returned from work, and the entire gaggle of kids ran to greet her outside. Some more photos, and then S. went inside her kitchen for a longish time. Her youngest daughter-in-law, quietly came out, opened an old almirah, and took out some white blouses and went in. When S. emerged, she had changed into a very conservative white saree with gentle embroidery, in preparation for their visit to the Buddha Vihar.
We had been there for an hour, not realizing how time flew. It was a delight to see everyone enjoying as well as helping out. S.'s youngest grandchild was all of 3 months, and was lying in the lap of his cousin's maternal grandma, being patted to sleep. There was this huge sense of unity despite the differences in generations and thinkng, and economic wellbeing.
It was time for us to leave, after enjoying the cake and some other stuff. S. offered us Frooti . And no, we didn't see any of the kids throwing a tantrum because they wanted a Cola or anything. They were just too busy climbing around and playing. S. walked with us to the corner. We bid her goodbye.
Late , around 9:30 pm or so, the doorbell rang. Mumbai is having an unusual winter, fewer people out on the roads, and we wondered who it could be.
It was "S". She was carrying a steel container. Their ceremony and celebrations at the Buddha Vihar were done, the food had arrived in time, and most of her guests, many who came from long distances , had left.
The stuff inside the container was hot. She handed me the stuff at the door, and left in a hurry, to attend to folks who were staying over at her small house.
It was my daughter's share of the Chicken Biryani :-). Straight from the giant container at the celebration.
The daughter often works late into the night, after running etc , when she has some assignment to complete. Sometimes she works in the living room so as to not disturb us with stuff that she keeps playing in the background on her laptop.
I think yesterday she was also busy with something else.
The steel container felt considerably lighter this morning.