I've mentioned this before: it's really nice having the help that we do over here - Vinod, Zareena, and the K.
Vinod, as I wrote about before, is not just a driver, but more like an all-rounder. He helped me quite a bit for Vijay's 'surprise' birthday party last week - it wasn't just fetching stuff from the market, but in staying late to help out in the kitchen ( The K was very tickled because apparently he was chopping onions like a pro, at one point), dropping Zareena home after the party, and even helping me sort out some old boxes of junk that we brought from Bangalore over a year back and still haven't thrown out. He takes the initiative in most of these matters, such as noticing that I was asking him to get mobile recharge cards almost every other day for Vijay's phone, which I am using - which was working out really expensive- so he pushed me to switch to a post-paid plan, even getting a Vodafone person to call me up with the ideal plan.
He is very fond of the baby and she bursts into giggles when she sees his face. What is it about this little girl and men!
Conversation between Vinod and me:
Vinod (sing song voice): Madam, maine saab se chaar din ki chhutti maangi hai.
Me: Achha? Kab?
Vinod (waving hand vaguely): Yu hi, paanch, chhe, saat, aath tareek.
Me: Oh. Kahan jaa rahen ho?
Vinod : Mere Maama ke ladke ki shaadi hai, Satna mein. Main nahin jaaunga, Madam, to wo mujhe MAAR daalega!
Me: Theek hai. (Muttering to myself) Chhe tareek ko baby ko doctor ke paas le jaana hai.
Vinod (overhearing me, immediately sings out) To main cancil kar deta ho!
Of course, I had no desire to have him killed by his Maama's ladka for the sake of taking my baby to a doctor 15 minutes away - so I told him we were quite capable of managing without him. He's cancelled his trip anyway, although Vijay tells me that he said it's because he is not feeling too well. Hmmm.
Zareena, of course, is thrilled to have the baby here. She's been waiting for this time for quite a few months and apparently used to get quite bored without anyone here. And unlike the earlier days when she would quickly finish up her work and rush off to the next house, she actually hangs around quite a bit, talking to the K - but actually waiting for the baby to wake up so that she can attempt to deafen her by cackling delightedly in her ear. She has this weird song that she sings to her, I can't really make out the words - but man, that woman is loud and tuneless. Thankfully, Peanut is a in a good mood after her naps and feeds and doesn't seem to mind at all - she smiles away at the old, loud, energetic woman who is shouting 'PA-PA-PUTLI-(SOMETHING)-TITLI....' between cackles. Anyone out there know this song?
And earlier, she would tend to take a day off every now and then - coinciding usually with the day after payday, thereby convincing Vijay that the money he paid her was going into buying and consuming copious quantities of daroo, and that she was lolling about in a drunken state somewhere on the days that she did not show up. This is quite an unfair accusation, but that is Vijay's suspicious nature for you. Anyway, it would be too much for us to hope that she doesn't take days off now, but those instances have lessened, and she does call up to inform us that she is 'not well today'. Plus, it is made that much more bearable because of the K.
The K, my mother's gift to us, is a real saviour for me. Life goes on as usual even though Zareena hasn't landed up today. And while the K can tend to be a little woolly-headed and not very efficient with handling the baby, what matters most to me is that she whole-heartedly loves her and is totally attentive with her. Of course, she is a bit too attentive and I have to coax her to let the baby play by herself occasionally, but this is a small price to pay for such love and impeccable credentials as having brought up my own baby sister.
However, she is getting rather absent-minded in her old age. Incidentally, I was shocked to hear that the K is now 50 years old because, to me, she looks exactly like she did when she came to our house 25 years ago. But anyway, she still tends to have those gaps in communication with Vijay. Such as when she brings Vijay's early morning tea to him.
The K (chirpy): Gud Mawrning, Bhaiyya!
Vijay: (stretching, never at his best in the mornings) Good morning.
The K: Biskoot laau?
Vijay: (mumbling incoherently) Haan...ek, do, le aao...
The K (gently repeats): Biskoot laau?
Vijay (a bit more clearly): Haan...ek, do, le aao...
The K smiles indulgently and disappears for ten minutes.
Vijay, not traditionally a biscuit eater in the mornings, is nevertheless now in the mood for a biskoot or two to dunk in his tea and goes off looking for the same. He goes to the kitchen and finds the biscuit tin himself, and on his way back, notices the K is standing by the drawing room window, gazing at the wide, wide ocean in a very contemplative mood. In his words, it is as if 'Wo soch rahi thi, main itne bade saagar mein kahan se biskoot dhoondke laau'. A bit annoyed, Vijay purposely rattles the biscuit tin as he passes to get her attention.
She turns towards him slowly, the very picture of early morning serenity, and proceeds to rub it in, with a final, affectionate 'Biskoot laau?'
It's good to have her around.