My Maid – My New Inspiration

As we are in the middle of the second wave of Corona virus in India, which is much more intense, contagious, and dangerous than the first one, we are living in constant fear for our lives, as well as our livelihood. After a year of this virus, we have still not contained it, in fact it has got worse. Savings have been exhausted, no income because of imposed lockdown and the fear of falling sick.

In all this chaos, one thing I have seen constant is – my maid’s smile. I always wonder that I come from a relatively good financial background, yet I am so worried about surviving this pandemic, then how much trouble will the poor people be facing, especially laborer’s, maids and servants. So how does my maid manage to smile always?

One day, I sat her down and started taking about her history and present and in whatever way I could help her. I was shocked listening to her story. And more shocked when she denied any extra help from me besides not laying her off from work.

She narrated me her story, and it goes like this. When she was young, around 7-8 years old, she lost her mother. Her mother was murdered by some of their own community people for reasons not known to my maid. Her father was an alcoholic and she was the only child. She never shared a cordial relationship with her father. As she grew old, she finally found love in a man and wanted to marry him. Somehow, one of her relative got the information of her affair, and instead of knowing her background and helping her, that relative contacted her father with a marriage proposal of another man.

That relative convinced her father that the other man is very good and he should get my maid married to him right away. My maid was forced to marry the other man, and once again, she lost the love that she deserved. Later, her father passed away due to over drinking. Soon, she had a son and her happiness had no limits. But it didn’t last long. She had been noticing that all the money that she earned from working at others houses was vanishing. She had no idea at all where the money was going. As some more time passed, she made a dreadful discovery. Her husband had another family in another city, and all her money was going to that family through her husband without her knowledge.

She was devastated. Her child was young. She had no father figure or any elders that she could turn up to for advice. She took the matter in her hands and left her husband. She decided to live in dignity as a single mother rather than being with her cheating husband and sharing him. She worked hard and built a good foundation for her son. She saved so much money, that after some years, she finally bought her own house.

As her son grew older, she thought that finally he too will stand on his own feet and bring some income in the house. But one day, her son bought an expensive mobile from her card without her knowledge. My maid, being the dignified woman that she is, sold her jewellery to pay up the EMIs of the card and warned her son to never do it again. Somehow, seeing her selling her jewellery, it opened her son’s eyes. He apologized to her and found a job. And with his salary, he bought his mother some new jewellery.

Today, he is happily married, has a good job and also recently had a son. My maid is more than happy and content.

I asked her, how are you dealing with the pandemic then? And she said, “I work in two houses (me and my office) and the other source of income is my son’s, which is enough for the four of us to live happily and comfortably.” She also added that her wants are less, so she doesn’t require any other monetary benefits or help. As always, she wants to work and earn her money. Not to be looked upon in pity.

Wow! This hit home. Sometimes, you get inspiration from the most unexpected person. Also, the old saying of “Never judge a book by its cover” stands true here. She is always smiling and laughing. I would have never guessed what she has been through since childhood. I would have never guessed that only for once she found love, and that too was taken away from her because of some dirty family politics.

This is called true strength. She raised her child as a single mother. She brought him back to his senses when he went off track. She lost her mother at a very early age. Her father was good for nothing. She never got to marry the love of her life. And her husband cheated her and robbed her earnings for the other woman. But my maid, overcame all her problems, because she was determined. Because she was true to herself. Because she chose her self-respect and dignity.

Isn’t this such an inspiration! I was blown away after hearing all this. I know there are tough times going on. And my priority is to survive at the moment for myself and Junior. But after listening to my maid, I want to thrive and nothing less. If she could overcome so many problems, then even I can and you can too.

Lockdown Food

My plate has Bhindi Sabzi, Kadhi, Aachar, Salad and Roti along with Strawberry Milkshake and Buttermilk.
No, this is not black tea. This is Sulemani Tea. When I lived in Dubai, and since I didn’t like the milk taste there, I had switched to having this tea. These days when I am painting, I make this tea.
Healthy lunch – Focaccia and Vegetable Soup
I painted this for someone. She wanted a cartoon happy painting, and I tried making it as happy as possible.

Pleasant Neighbours Vs Annoying Neighbours

Till the time I was not married, I lived in the same house for 23 years. And my parents being so cool as they are, they are always loved by neighbors and other building residents. Fortunately, every resident and neighbors were also so pleasant that we still share cordial relations with them. But as soon as I got married, my luck was never on my side. For some or the other reason, I had to keep changing houses. And that is when I experienced the different types of neighbors, especially when you have dogs.

After we relocated to Mumbai from Dubai, and basically our first house after marriage, we were fortunate enough to get an apartment where the building already had 3 dogs. Adding Casper and Junior, it became 5 dogs in total. My immediate neighbors were dog lovers and very friendly. Overall, all the residents of the building were ok with dogs and did not mind even if I ever walked my dogs at the podium or parking area. In fact, there were times when we even had dog parties having all the dogs gather at the podium and make them play, while the pet parents socialized. Sometimes, even the security guards would tell us to keep our dogs down with them for company. It was safe, and they took good care of our fur babies. I know this, because I am someone who never gives my dogs to anyone when I am not present, but I kept looking from my window which faced the main gate and the security cabin. I lived there for 2 years and had a wonderful experience and stay. I really miss that house and building.

I shifted to another house as I had separated from my ex-husband and had to put up that house for sale. The next society that I lived in, was majorly good. Being a huge society, it had several flats on one floor. My floor had 6 flats. Pretty congested but I had no option. Two of my neighbors were utterly rude, but never interfered in my business. But I always feared encountering them when I would take Casper and Junior for a walk, as they hated dogs. The other three neighbors were chilled out. And one of the couples were such insane dog lovers, that every evening they would bring chicken or fruits for Casper and Junior. Once I got used to the new surrounding and the huge society’s innumerable people, it got a little easier for me take Casper and Junior in the compound for their evening walks. After a period, Casper and Junior were welcomed with open arms by everyone (except my two neighbors) and the kids loved playing with them. I lived there for two and a half years and had to shift again as my lease got over and the owners were looking forward to selling the house rather than putting it up rent again.

The third house that I shifted to, was a disaster, and unfortunately, I lived the longest there, for four and half years. This house had been such a bad luck for me, that every single day I would cry and did not want to spend even a minute more there. But I was facing financial crisis, as well as the legal proceedings for divorce had started, for which I could not change the house.

The day I shifted there, one of the neighbors created a havoc. It had become their ritual to fight with me on daily basis and anyhow, they wanted to kick me out. They were so bad and evil, that even when Casper was ill and vomited blood once on the staircase, the man came and blasted me for making a mess and asked me to clean immediately (which I was obviously going to), inspite of seeing Casper had collapsed and I was struggling to pick him up. Casper passed away within just 18 days of shifting to this house.

However, my other neighbors were so nice, that they stood by me through all thick and thins and cared for Junior and me like family. They looked after me so well, that even when a stranger or service person would come home, someone or the other from their family would come and stand at the door to make sure I was safe. There was a time when I had to be taken to the ER for a deep cut on my hand. My neighbor came with me to the hospital, stood there till I got the stitches, bought my medicines, brought me home and did my dressing every day. In the meantime, their son took care of Junior while I was away, fed him and stayed with him till I came home. Because my hand was nonfunctional for somedays, they made lunch and dinner for me till I was cured.

And finally, the last straw was, one more fight with the disgusting neighbor and I decided to shift even in the lockdown. Today, as I am in the new house, which has far more pleasant and good neighbors, I think to myself that I should have taken this decision earlier rather than spending four and a half years in hell. Junior and me are in a better place now, where he is accepted and loved by all the society members. Kids come to play with him, and the mothers are carefree as they know Junior will do no harm to them.

Sometimes, we linger a lot and hold on to our fears. Fear of the unknown, fear of change. Many a times, there is no problem with us or our life, but it is our surroundings which create problems. But we think, there is something wrong with us. Having the same mentality, I lived in fear and in my comfort zone for many years. Compromising each day thinking “this is my life and I have to deal with it”. But had I shown a little confidence and courage for myself, I did not have to compromise living in a toxic atmosphere that I lived.

It is true. Love yourself, take care of yourself. You must save your own self. Most importantly, trust yourself. We all deserve to live in good atmospheres and live happily. All the solutions are available, we just have to TRUST ourselves that we deserve good and are capable of achieving it.

Dreams and Tears

Appreciate what you have, before it turns into what you had. We all have heard this before. But we still do not implement this in our lives. We keep on abusing the zeal given to us, until it is too late to realise what we had was way too precious to us, and is there no more. When you take things for granted, the things you are granted get taken.

I had always dreamt to marry a guy who would love me, encourage me, protect me, stand by me, etc. And I was even fairly lucky enough to find that person. But somewhere, I believe, I took my oomph life for granted. And somewhere, even my husband acted with decorum. We would have our differences, but that’s a part of any marriage or relationship. But what I personally didn’t realise was, we had some faults which instead of addressing to each other and talking to each other like matured adults, we would fight and scream on top of our voices. Eventually, get tired of fighting and then forget the topic without bringing a solution. All this resulted in separation, and eventually breaking the marriage.

Life was reasonably beautiful back then; but immature us just took each other for granted. It clearly takes 2 hands to clap, and while I do not know if my husband ever realised his mistakes, but by the time I realised mine, it was too late. I couldn’t do anything but watch him go to someone else. Maybe the love was still there, but sometimes the situation becomes so unbearable, that even the silence starts haunting you. You have become so tired of holding on to a marriage or relationship, hoping in the dead air for things to not only turn around but also become as exciting as before; only to realize that one day the bubble bursts, and you just have to let go. And even though you love your partner, deep within you know you are no more in love with them!

Taylor Swift has said “It’s hard to fight when the fight isn’t fair.” The same holds true for life also. Just when I realised my mistakes and started improvising on them, I came across guys who showed me an altogether new meaning of taking things for granted. At the beginning of the relationship, they show you rainbows, and once they are confident that you are completely theirs, they start showing you thunderstorms. Once they know you are madly in love with them, they assume you won’t leave. And you are constantly hoping, rather illusive that they will change. You even signal it out to them that the changed behaviour is unbearable and you may leave. So for a short amount of time they change completely and become all loving and caring, but go back to being ignorant in no time. With time, the hurt is so bad that it loses its meaning. You start becoming distant and stop caring. You stop satisfying their ego to give them a taste of their own medicine. But by doing this, I learnt one thing; recklessness is almost a man’s revenge on his woman. He feels he is not valued so he will risk destroying himself to deprive her altogether. The best revenge is, TO MOVE ON. If they cared, they would have showed you. There are no ifs and buts to this. Actions always speak louder than words. We keep lying to ourselves in the name of love by giving excuses to unacceptable behaviour.

Love is said to be a journey, not a destination. If you commit, you promise to love that person even when it is difficult to talk to them. The one man that I met didn’t even think once before playing with my emotions and broke me so bad, that I stopped feeling anything. He used me to forget someone and forgot me like I was just some object when she came back in his life. And the other man that I met became so reckless that I started to feel that only I was in a relationship. He fed me breadcrumbs and expected me behave like he was the whole treat. What was common in both these men? They were so good and loving in the first few months, committed, sweet talkers, promised to be with you in the good and the bad, seemed matured and actually looked genuine. But once they gained your confidence, suddenly all the promises were broken, the once matured men became someone who seemingly “didn’t know” what they wanted. If I addressed their changed behaviour, I was labelled to be sulking and nagging. ‘I Love You’ was just another statement used to trap you and then eventually to abandon you for an ex or next. While I was clearly naive and rather stupid to trust words; a more severe effect of this is that even though I still believe in love, I cannot trust a soul now. Many of us these days feel, “I will get anyone. There are a lot of fishes in the sea.” They sabotage and destroy the person they are with to search for something better outside. When they realise the grass wasn’t greener on the other side, or, when karma hits them back with the same thing of how they treated their partner, they come running back realising they had the best; obviously it is too late then. It’s said, “Women fall in love in the man’s presence and men fall in love in the woman’s absence.” Many men probably know this, but what they don’t know is women take longer to leave, but once they leave, they never come back!

Rumi, the 13th century poet had said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself” With all these happenings in my life, I have only learnt. Learnt to be patient, learnt the value of the present moment than getting anxious about the future, and, learnt to trust actions and not just words. I also learnt to never beg anyone to stay in my life; for where you are not celebrated and respected, leave. The moment after being let go, when we can finally let it go, is the moment when love once again has hope. And I want to keep falling in love even if I have already hit the ground. To young hearts; keep beating, keep breaking and keep falling in love. But never take anyone or any moment for granted. Because what you have today, tomorrow it just might not be there. And that will hit you like a bullet in the heart. By the time you realise what you have lost, it will be gone forever. If you love something, love it completely, cherish it, say it, but most importantly – show it. Life is finite and fragile, and just because something is there one day, it might not be the next. Never take anyone or anything granted. I had read an article about a man’s last words on his death bed. He said, “Wish I had paid more attention to the relationships I had in my life.” Value them when they are still there other than adjusting to their absence in the future. My intention is not to gain any sympathy, but only to help people to not repeat the mistakes I have made.

Having said that, there are times that I too feel guilty of not spending enough time with Casper and he was gone too soon. So this lockdown has given me an opportunity to take a break from the grind and spend a lot of time with Junior, take care of his health and wellbeing, laugh at his funny sleeping positions, talk to him random stuff and see him tilting his head, hug him tight where he tries his best to free himself and love him a lot more. My dogs have been the biggest blessings in my life. Having such short lives, they still fill yours with so much meaning, faithfulness and loyalty. And under no circumstances, I would take even a single moment with Junior for granted. For this time, will never come again – Spend your time with those who love you unconditionally, not with those who only love you under certain conditions!