Saturday, February 15, 2014

Postcard From Spain

Dear Didi       date: 4nd March 2012
I shouldn’t have come to Spain, really, it’s taking me so much time to adjust. Okay, I admit that the roads are huge with three lanes on both side and beautiful colored flowers at the dividers. There are yellow, blue, red flowers everywhere. There are beautiful rock gardens under every bridge. There is sweet fragrance in the air. We drive at high speed of 130 and there is a separate lane for overtaking. There is no garbage or dust on the road. It’s a pleasure driving on these clean roads. But my happiness ends there. I am lonely. I miss my friends and family here. Madam hardly ever speaks to me. Our conversation is limited to just few syllables a day and most of the time I just nod my head in agreement. She is a busy woman, always attending to her clients or talking on the phone.
Okay, got to go, Madam is calling……

Dear Didi     Date: 6th May 2012
Today, madam asked me to come to the store to help her with little bit of cleaning. There are two more salesgirls at the store but they are always talking with each other. They waste so much time sitting idle, just waiting for clients. Madam does not tell them anything. They only smile when they see me but they never talk to me. They don’t know to speak in English, nor do they speak Hindi. I am learning Spanish. I have brought one book too. I know to count numbers from one to ten in Spanish and also know few words like ‘si’ ‘no’ ‘gracias’.  Madam told me to clean one window at the store. I remembered a joke. Do you remember that joke about a Sadarji who threw his spouse out of window and shouted “Love is in the air, love is in the air”. I wanted to tell that joke to those two salesgirls at the store. You had told me once that relating jokes is a good way to strike up a conversation. But how do I tell a joke in Spanish? Oh, I feel so helpless. I wanted to share this joke with somebody and have a good laugh; I can’t tell Madam, she has no sense of humor. It’s been quite a some time since I last laughed loudly. I went to the bathroom, stood in front of the mirror and told the joke to the image in the mirror.  Okay, I did have my dose of laughter but alone. Just me. I often do that.

Dear Didi       Date: 8th July 2012
This week, we had guests from India. There was too much work in the house. But it was nice to hear the familiar Indian language in the house. I even saw madam relaxing. Madam would take them out for sight seeing everyday but mornings they were all at home. There was so much laughter during breakfast time. I cooked special meals for them and they praised my cooking. One day they even invited me to accompany them to the bird park. I was so happy. I quickly went to my room and dressed in my dark pink skirt and floral t-shirt. I put a large sunflower clip in my hair. Remember those red plastic bangles, I wore them too. Madam was not happy with my dress-sense. She said that I would draw too much attention on the road. She made me change my clothes. I had to wear madam’s used jeans and dull grey blouse. What kind of place is this where I can’t even dress the way I like? Madam is very bossy.

Dear Didi       Date: 14th October 2012
It is such a pleasure receiving mail from you. I eager wait for your reply. Sometimes when I see the postman, I run to the door to ask him if there is any mail for me. No, I don’t talk much to him, I cannot, I have to ask him in gestures, because he speaks only Spanish. But he is very fair and handsome. I think he gets haircut from a ladies saloon, or maybe he knows some hairstylist. He looks like our Salman Khan. He is always very neatly dressed in his uniform of yellow shirt and yellow pant. He has a yellow bag too and you know what, he comes on yellow scooter, there is a small, white emblem of the post-office on his scooter.. He is so stylish really. Whenever he has letter for me, he gives me a very sweet smile. I am working very hard on my Spanish so that I can talk to him.

Dear Didi     Date 25th December 2012
I cannot tell you how excited I am. Today I got a Christmas gift. Guess who gave me? No, its not Madam, oh ok, she did give me a Christmas gift too, a dull brown color t-shirt that her friend had given her, she did not like it so she has passed it on to me. But I am so thrilled that I got an expensive perfume this Christmas. Salman Khan gave me. Actually his name is Pedro. Nowadays he comes regularly even though there is no letter for me. One day he even took me for a small ride on his yellow scooter, not very far, just at the end of the lane and back. It was so much fun. I have learnt so much Spanish from him. Whenever I make gestures to explain, he tells me a word for it. He has also given me few picture books. At night, after I finish all my housework. I learn Spanish.

Dear Didi         date 30th December 2012
I am very confused. Pedro wants to take me out for New Year night. He says there is a huge celebration at the city square. It is like a big fair and there are thousands of people on the street. There are many hotdogs and churro chocolate kiosks on the footpath. He says that he will buy for me grapes. People here pop 12 grapes into their mouth, one by one, when the clock strikes 12 at midnight. They welcome the New Year in this grape-popping ceremony. This is followed by grand, spectacular display of fireworks in the sky. Have you seen the designs of necklaces, geometrical shapes, animals, and brightly colored sparkling glitter in the sky? Whole crowd cheers after every design. After that there is dance and music on the streets all night. I want to go but how to take permission from Madam? Pedro says I can sneak out, he will help me, this will be a secret between us. Madam need not know, he says

Dear Didi   date 14th February 2013
Since last one week I cannot stop my tears from falling. I have terrible cold and am sniffing all day. My bones ache while I do the housework. I think my body is also very warm. Madam is also ignoring me. Our neighbor told Madam that Pedro comes home everyday when she is not at home. Madam started abusing me. She has warned me that she will send me back to India if Pedro does not stop coming to the house. She has warned Pedro too. She told him to just drop letters in the mailbox and not to ring the doorbell. Pedro is not afraid of her. He still rings the doorbell and talks to me. Today he sent me a bouquet and box of chocolate to wish me a Valentines’ day. Madam is very angry. I don’t know what to do.

Dear Didi                  16th June 2013
Didi, I am pregnant. It was an accident. I cannot go to the doctor with Pedro secretly. I will have to ask Madam to help me with an abortion. Pedro says he cannot marry me. He says we are just friends.

Dear Didi                   15th August
I have just finished packing my bags. The air tickets are lying on the table. I want to inform you that I will reach India at 1am on 18th August. Do note down my flight no 3789 Iberia airlines. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad. But I think it is better this way. I don’t like working for Madam anymore. She can never be my friend, ever. She will not allow me to work anywhere else. Moreover, Pedro is just a friend; it was difficult to have a proper conversation with him in Spanish. Madam says that such kind of relationship cannot last long. I think I will be happier in India living amongst my own people. The good thing is that now I will be called foreign return. I am sure I will get a better job. Life must go on. See you soon.

PS: The above story is written in epistolary writing format - prose or poetry written as a series of documents. According to Wikipedia, the usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic "documents" such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use.

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