Friday, 9 October 2015

Of Bais Gone By (A Saga) - Chapter 2


Pic credit: Yohan Wadia artworks
 
Bamboozlement


Kindly Mr. Stork had decided to bestow on us young couple the earliest feasible and legitimate (post-marriage that is!) visit…..
Both of us were befuddled, anxious, excited & ecstatic in the said order at our rapid promotion from hot couple, made-for-each other bride and groom to newbie parents-to-be!!


Pic credit: World Wide Web


Bumbling Mr Stork had probably got wind of the Buy One,Get One Free Offer then trending in the markets and thoughtfully doled out another package for delivery via my drama-queen bai Sarita!!

Surprisingly, Con-gal Sarita had lingered as a part of my household for nearly six months. She could well be credited with the reason for my home maintaining a spartan look – no overflowing cupboards or larder – my regular barters with her ensured that!! And now that we both sailed in the same boat (pl.note: different oarsmen-pun intended!!), we even shared common woes! 

If I waddled, she waddled all the more, though my waddling was far more graceful I believed, as her stick frame could not do justice to this gait - you had to have certain basic minimum body weight to start off with!! She thoroughly manipulated the situation and milked it for all it was worth. My innate humane nature however, let her get away just doing odd chores, while I inducted another ‘helper’ to tide me through the situation and also to eventually take over when the time came for Sarita to leave.

It was soon time to bid adieus to the two moms-to-be. While I joyfully anticipated the stay at my maayka, Sarita was woebegone! She tearfully bid farewell clutching on to a sackful of old clothes (courtesy – my over-enthusiastic relations) and other trinkets I had bought for her, promising to return soon - however I have never laid my eyes on her ever after that day!! 

My 3rd Bai-in chief or ‘temp-helper’ as I thought of her initially, an old bai called Sheela (sans jawaani…..couldn’t resist slipping that in!) seemed very capable though brusque and surly.....and with something vaguely disturbing about her manner that I couldn’t pinpoint at that time - when life was at its chaotic best!!
She had been very astutely hand-picked – having four grown-up children of her own, certainly ensured no maternity leaves in the future!!
I handed over the reins to Sheela bai and told her to take good care of the dear ol’place while I went with a care-free mind to ‘pop’ my own!!
 
Whoever coined the phrase, "popping out babies”, definitely a man, needs to be boxed, black and blue!!
You can 'pop a pill', or even ‘pop your soda’ man!! But pop out a BABY????!!

Pic credit: www
Well, my little bundle of joy, pink and cherubic, gave me the most harrowing and excruciating time, ‘popping’ out!!
However once out, the little rosebud was the perfect angel, as if to make up for the trying time she had given me!
Happily enough, after a thoroughly pampering stay at the parents’ it was soon time for a rather rotund mum n babe to return to base!!

Not digressing further from the main saga or the maid saga I shall get back to our current subject – Sheela bai.
As per the numerous phone calls from the husband, (ladies have you observed, how punctilious husbands become about phone calls when you are away from the mainland? Is it, a. Genuine loneliness, b. to ensure that we are not enjoying ourselves too much in their absence, or c. to make us believe they are pining away while in fact the contrary is true??!!), Sheela bai had been regular, thoroughly business-like, the house ship-shape, plants watered, no problemo!!!

Aye aye Captain!! I was now back at the helm of home affairs, hitherto the scatter-brained, immature mistress Ver.1, returning as a new-improved Ver.1.1, with increased clarity (remember my indoctrination in Bai-Sanskaar?!), maturity and weight (literally!!)

As I moved back into the dear ol’place I mused that it looked a tad more spartan than usual. I dismissed the notion as illusory, being  perpetually used to viewing all available surfaces back at the parents’ place covered with baby products and the works!! I proceeded to unpack and swamp the dwelling with all things baby, virtually creating our own Nappyland!!

Settled in, a tour of my kingdom and its priced possessions beckoned. Imagine my shock when I saw the kitchen bereft of all delicate china - my pride and joy!! Further inspection led to the discovery of missing brassware in the living-room - that I always kept displayed spotlessly polished!!! I was hyperventilating, wondering what had happened to my dear treasures. Taking deep breaths, I resolved to first confront the ‘acting guardian’ of the house, ‘Shree Patidev’! 

Pic credit : Reiko Kaneko Bone china

Pic credit: Penny Lane Studio

I optimistically speculated that he may have decided to surprise me by spring-cleaning the house, clearing it of all clutter?!! If he thought the clutter included my china & brassware….GRRRR!!!

Upfront confrontation, led to a blank-faced husband asking, “What is spring-cleaning? I don’t have my tool-box!!", and after further enlightenment, “Oh!! Something's missing, is it ? Looks fine to me!!”
That’s what you get for leaving the home n hearth at the mercies of Husbands & Mercenaries!!

Desperately unhappy, I needed accountability for the missing treasures. The image of the most-likely suspect rose from memory, brusque, surly attitude and….shifty-eyes!!! Only now did it flash on me what I had found disturbing about Sheela bai Shifty-eyes!!

Seething, I planned how to tackle the pilferer the next morning when she would turn up for work!! Morning came and went, with no sign of Sheela. And here I was, all charged up and waiting like a CID pro, armed with dialogues, accusations and missing items list!! Checking up on her whereabouts with the building security, yielded nada, as apparently, ours was the only place she worked / operated at!

It was a clear-cut case of day-light robbery, I surmised and accordingly, called the husband to convey that a burglary had indeed been perpetrated, the culprit absconding, and it was time to call in the experts. As fate would have it, husband being bogged in some deadline that could not be inveigled out of, the visit to the justice-keepers had to be postponed for the morrow.

Morrow and baby dawned early! I rose to attend to the baby, and the husband was prodded awake to make himself useful in alien territory, a.k.a kitchen to us women. The door bell rang, the milkman I guessed, the husband went to answer the door, while I moped that today we would have to file a complaint about the klepto on loose.

I was dumbstruck at the gall and insouciance of the miscreant bai, as she entered the bedroom apology written all over a worn, tired visage. She proceeded to inform me, “Bhabhi, woh parso meri beti ko baccha hua na, toh mai uske saath haspatal me thi, iske liye kaam pe aane ku nai hua ”, (Bhabhi my daughter had a baby the day before, and I was at the hospital with her, so I could not come to work) and proceeded  to peer across the bed to have a look at my precious. 

Wearing my coldest look (according to the husband, the look I give him when he cracks unfunny wisecracks about me), I scathed, “Kahan becha mera peetal aur kitchen ke sundar bartan? (what’s bone-china in hindi?) Accha paisa toh vasool hua na?” (Where did you sell my brassware and china? Did you make a good profit?) 

A cloud passed over her face and she abruptly left the room. I was too angry and upset to follow her, so I remained by the baby and counted to ten, then a dozen more tens! Calm enough now, I ventured out to the living-room where Lo and behold!! The old trunk used as a side table was lying open with all my missing treasures intact and in immaculate condition!! A dazed husband holding a colourful rattle in his hand, related to me that Sheela bai had just informed him that, knowing how fanatical I was about my cherished paraphernalia, in my absence, she had dutifully cleaned and polished each piece and packed them inside the trunk, so that I could rearrange them as I saw fit, when I came back!!

Appalled and guilt-ridden, I rushed down the stairs to apologise for my uncharitable and unfair accusations!! Sheela had just reached the ground floor on weary old bones as I caught up with her. I huffed out my apology and begged her to return. She just smiled and said, “Ek baar vishwaas aur bharosa toot gaye toh judenga nahi. Vaise bhi mai toh kaam chodhne hi wali thi, meri nayi naati ko sambhalne ka hai na!” (Once faith and trust are broken they cannot be repaired. Anyway I was going to quit the work, as I have to take care of my new grand-daughter!) 

I trudged back home in utter self-loath and remorse at my sickening judgement regarding someone whom I barely knew. How easily we denounce people based on their looks or social strata! Thankfully sensing my chagrin, husband just playfully cuffed me with the rattle (Sheela’s gift for my baby) and remarked,“ Hope you'll drop your sleuthing skills now, they didn’t seem too accurate anyway…..Shifty-eyes indeed!!!




Another bai gone, another lesson learnt! Young bai – gets pregnant – so big no–no! Old bai – doesn’t get pregnant – gets grandchildren!!!
“Well licchle one”, I crooned, “ V lipeat, old micchtakes n make new vonch, as v gwo worldly wicher evely day!! Ichn’t it coochie-moochie??” My little daughter acknowledged this sage truth with a happy gurgle!

Life goes on, and so must I, no point in brooding further I decided. Resolutely plonking li'l Gurgly on Pa’s lap, I proceeded to the Intercom. Dubeyji our sexagenarian (perverts: pl look up the ol’Oxford) Security head, was purported to be a terrific head-hunter, gossip fountain & a man of connections (basically a Human Google Search Engine in the days before the advent of internet in every home!) and I was in need of his expert services - As Soon As Possible (ASAP - not yet invented….Sigh!!!!)



Note: All characters in the Of Bais Gone by - Saga series are fictional. The situations however are inspired from real life. Any resemblance to any character, living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional.




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