Skip to main content

One Step Up

Radha

Radha knew that Lakshmi was eyeing her sari, though no expression showed on her face. All the maids thought she was arrogant for not talking to them but Radha had never been one of those people who thought her caste made her a better person. It had just been easier not to talk to anyone when she had first come to the city. Besides, these maids never had anything much to talk about except gossip and no one knew better than her how much damage could be caused when women gossiped!

It was gossip that made her believe in Chandrasekhar. That he was a famous author, pretending to be a wastrel and swindler for his latest novel. He had been so charming, she had fallen for him completely. Her parents had died when she was 13 and she had always wanted someone to take care of her. She had been so happy. Until the day she woke up to find that he had disappeared and her house sold without her knowledge. He had turned out to be a swindler, pretending to be a famous author. She had been left with nothing, forced to move to the city and cook for a living.

The sound of the lift doors opening brought her back to reality with a jolt and she quickly came out of her reverie. Mrs. Rao in flat 612 had asked her to come early because she and her husband were going to visit their daughter in London. She liked the elderly couple, more so because they were both retired college professors. She had never set foot in a college campus and admired anyone who had.

“All ready for the trip Miss?” asked Radha, for the living room was filled with the remnants of a week of hectic packing. She always called her Miss, even though Jyothi had asked her to call her Mrs. Rao - like her students used to do - or even Aunty. But in the small town where Radha grew up, all teachers were Miss and she couldn't bring herself to say otherwise.

Jyothi laughed and replied, “I had better be, since we cannot come back all the way from London if I miss something! Oh and before I forget, here is your payment for last month and the festival bonus.”

“Yes Miss and thank you!” replied Radha happily. She reflected for a moment on how different city people were from townsfolk. Here no one cared who she was or where she came from, all they wanted was someone who could cook. She did her job and she got paid, that was all that mattered. Not like the prying busybodies back home who had to know everything about everyone. If they didn't, well something could always be made up…

She went into the kitchen and started making lunch. She had just about finished when the doorbell rang. She heard the muffled voice of Diya, the Raos’ next door neighbour and a moment later both ladies were in the kitchen.

“Radha, Diya wants some of the masala powder you made last week. I promised her I would let her have it before I left.”

Radha turned to the rack where she kept the spices and filled the little bowl with her special masala powder. She had always envied Diya. College educated Diya with her happy husband and adorable girls. She was an excellent cook and kept a beautiful house. ‘What a nice family she has! Not everyone is that lucky. Oh, if only I had a husband and children I would be so happy...What more could a woman want?'

Read next chapter
Read the first chapter

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Education and Learning

Fourteen years of school. Three - four years of undergraduate college. Two years for a graduate degree. Start working or making babies. Sound familiar? It should, it’s what the majority of lives in this country look like. Ten years ago, I was headed down the same street. Engineering, MBA and then on to a fat pay check, like countless other teenagers, products of a system seemingly obsessed with stability and an extreme aversion to risk and failure. While I did end up getting 2 degrees and the pay check (with a stable, GOI company no less!) I also realized I hated it. Going to work from 9 to 7, doing the same endless, mind numbing, repetitive tasks, sitting in the same chair for ten odd years before getting promoted and dodging responsibility in order to retire with a pension suddenly seemed a lot less attractive when I was looking at it from the wrong end of 35 years! And history shall say I quit. But now what? I did what any sane person without a job and all the time in the w

Reality Check

Two things I really really hated to hear when I was growing up – ‘You’ll understand when you grow up’ & ‘That’s what you say now, but just wait.’ The first I stopped believing quite a bit before now, seeing as I’m now 25 and still don’t understand things. I don’t get why staying up past 10 is a punishable offence or why I need permission to get my hair styled even though I’m 26 going on 27. I’m as grown up as it is possible to get & no closer to enlightenment. As for seeing things differently when I’m older or in this case when I have my own kids, there’s just one way to find out. One sticking point between my mom and me has been how much control parents should have over the behaviour, thoughts & feelings of their adult offspring. I say none while she says all. Will I be singing the same tune when I’m 50 and my kids 20? How do I find out? Time to put my money where my mouth is & my words on paper aka my blog. Reality Check time. Will an older & wiser me look

Why Don’t We Raise Our Sons like We Do Our Daughters?

This post originally appeard in Women's Web: Why Don’t We Raise Our Sons like We Do Our Daughters? One of the hot button topics right now in Indian media is the safety of women – or rather how our country doesn't really care about half its population. From rape, sexual assault, harassment (in streets, public transport, nearly every public place) to violence perpetrated on women, Indians are finally getting around to discussing taboo topics. One refrain that caught my eye throughout these debates – both online and off – is the fact that the reaction of the majority of Indians is the same: girls should stay at home, not go out after dark, dress appropriately and so on if they want to stay safe. No one seems to bat an eyelid when laying down these precautions for women. Except that the reality is women would be far safer if all the men simply DID NOT RAPE or HARASS any person that looks remotely female. No one has to stay at home and become a hermit! That got me th