While all of Mumbai is busy discussing the safest way to celebrate the V-Day and there are cartons of ‘Pink Chaddis’ packed for this special day, my live-in maid, who is just twenty two years old, is unaware of such a campaign. She has no idea about our ministers’ threat to young couples or the extremity of anger from various nodes on the network. Her day activities are just cleaning my house, cooking meals for me or sit by my bedside and watch TV with me. Off late, I am aware that she has a boyfriend who is a security guard in some building, which is on the other side of Mumbai, and my suspicions have been confirmed on many occasions, when she has burnt my chapattis and fed the crows, or cooked the onion, too browned, during her long, long conversations on her mobile.
This morning, on Saturday, the 14th, when I return from my early morning jog, she announces that she is going out to celebrate the Valentine’s Day. She is a young girl and a cupid arrow has stung her and her hormones as well, I am not sure if I would like to ask her as to what ‘Sex’ means in her dictionary, nor is it my business to probe into her personal life. The fact is that I cannot grant her a leave today because I am expecting a guest for lunch.
She pouts, rolls her eyes and walks swiftly out of my room. I follow her to her room, towards the back of the kitchen and I see her jeans and ironed blouse, with frilly collar, spread across her bed.
I am feeling terribly guilty of offending her.
“Try to understand,” I plead, “Who will do the cooking and help me with work, if you go away?”
“I have an idea” she says and a smile returns to her face
“I will cook fast and finish all the work before going, I promise.” She says
I contemplate on an idea of taking my guest out for lunch, although I would still prefer to eat home-cooked food.
“I am planning to go after lunch,” she continues, “So I will cook enough for both of us and also for your guest.”
“Oh! Your boyfriend is not taking you out for lunch?” I say
“No, He is taking me for an afternoon show ‘Billu Babar’ and then for a Pani puri and chaat at Juhu beach.” She says
Well, if she has planned to cook for herself, then it will not be an extra effort for her to cook for me too, and since she will go after lunch I think I could manage without her help, on the contrary, I might even enjoy some privacy with my guest.
“See that you finish all the work before you go.” I warn her and return back to my bedroom to check my e-mail.
After an hour, I hear the door bell ring.
“Maam! Can you please answer the door?” she says
“No! You answer the door! I am busy, can’t you see that?” I say, irritated by her interruptions. My score graph on ‘Lexulous game’ at ‘Facebook’ is dipping and I am trying hard to concentrate on a seven letter word to revive my score board.
“Please Maam! Please, I am feeling shy to answer the door like this” she says as she stands at the entrance of my room.
I look away from my computer screen and turn to face her, I am shocked, to see her face grey and chapped. She has a face-mask!
“Please Maam, Your driver is at the door, he wants to ask your permission to drop me to the nearest train station.” She says
“My driver will not leave you to the station.” I say, raising my first finger and pointing at her, “You must take a bus.”
“Please Maam, let him drop me, it is just few minutes away, I will be delayed if I take a bus.”
Forcibly, I steer away from my computer and answer the door and permit my driver to reach my maid at the local train station.
I head back to my game on the net.
My guest arrives at one O’clock. My maid offers him orange juice and peanuts and I wait for her for another fifteen minutes, hoping that she will bring some snack for my guest, but, none arrive.
I go to the kitchen to see what she has prepared for lunch.
There is only yellow Jeera rice in the rice-cooker; vegetable curry and a salad.
“Maam, I don’t think I will have time for lunch, I am running late, I will eat Batawada-Pav at the railway station, can I go, please?” she says
I glare at her from top to bottom. I look with displeasure at her straight and shiny, blow-dried hair; thick black belt around her mid rib, separating her tuck-in blouse and jeans, white sandals, unmatched purse and a strong smell of a cheap perfume.
I don’t want my guest to see her like this. If I had a magic wand, I would swirl it around to make her disappear immediately.
“Go soon before I change my mind.” I snap at her.
I am back in the living room with an apologetic expression.
My guest and I go out for lunch and then head towards the nearest PVR and watch the evening show of a film ’Billu Barber’