So after almost 5 years of being with us, Rinki has left.
Back in 2010, I was suffering greatly after two surgeries after complications with the twin pregnancy. In the recuperation period, it was incredibly tough, having to deal with two newborn baby boys while still suffering from fever and pain. It had been a difficult enough time before they were born, but it was absolutely crazy afterwards. And that's when Rinki just walked in.
When she joined us, she was a shy sixteen year old girl who spoke only Bengali - not a word of Hindi. She never looked up when we spoke to her, but mumbled unintelligible responses to the floor. But she showed signs of animation when looking at the babies and that was good enough for me. I hired her immediately.
Rinki turned out to be a big blessing, and I quickly discovered that having a lady in the house who was half my age and possessed twice my energy levels was a real boon, given the three small kids and their various needs. Over a period of time, she grew to be more like an elder sister to the children.
In many ways, she was of course still a kid herself. Climbing trees like a monkey, teaching them to pick up mulberries, entertaining them with grossly inappropriate ghost stories and superstitions from her time in the village. But she had a golden heart, and it was very easy for us to become very fond of her.
She had her flaws, of course. Who doesn't? She was prone to drama and had a fiery temper, and this resulted in various fights and flare-ups, especially given that there are several other strong-headed folks of all ages in my home. But I noticed that over the last year, Rinki had greatly matured and handled most situations with a lot more grace and ease than before. Alas: it was also time for her to go.
She told me in January that she would be returning to the village with her family, and probably not coming back. My heart broke, even though I had been expecting this - it had been a long time and she was a young woman now. I asked if they wanted to get her married off, and she refuted it stoutly, saying she wanted to start up her own beauty parlour, and didn't want to get married anytime soon. However, I suspect otherwise after speaking to her mother- another fine lady, who I employed at one time as a cook. She was not a fine cook and I had to unemploy her. But a fine lady, high on integrity and caring from whatever I could see, and from her influence on young Rinki.
I did a lot to retain Rinki. She was a very bright girl, and expressed the desire to study. By some stroke of luck, I found a lovely retired schoolteacher in the colony, and she took her on as a student, teaching her over the course of a couple of years the basics of English and Math. As a consequence of this, (and with considerable help from my daughter Peanut) Rinki, as of now, understands a lot of English and can even converse in English to some extent.
She also had an interest in learning sewing, so while the kids were in school, she went off for sewing classes for a while, and became fairly adept at stitching, even making a pretty little dress for Peanut which delighted the little one greatly.
But Rinki's real interest was in learning how to do parlour work. Happily, in the last few months with us, we managed to send her off for training to a parlour. The other maids were heard squealing in protest as Rinki offered to practice her threading on them. Already, the girl had a knack for hairstyling and Peanut was most thrilled to have her long, fine hair constantly pulled into the most elegant and innovative styles that had people cooing over her constantly.
Being one of the smart ones, Rinki was of course on her smartphone a lot, and youtube was a source of entertainment and information for her - in fact, some of the more challenging hairstyles were made easier for her with step by step instructions on youtube how-to videos.
There was a clear transformation in the young girl over the period that she was there with us. The last time I saw her, her skin was radiant, she wore my barely worn clothes better than I would have, her long hair was in a stylish bun, she carried about her the air of youthful good health, and a certain confidence about who she is and who she wants to be.
She has been a fantastic help to us and a lot of what I have been able to do over the last few years is, in large part, due to her presence in the house. The other maids, of course, have done their bit, but most vital have been Rinki and our other full-timer, the old K.
The kids wept copiously the day that Rinki left. We cut a cake for her and had a little celebration party to send her off, and Peanut kept lapsing into tears and setting the small boys off, and Rinki didn't help matters by breaking down herself.
A young girl called Lalita watched the proceedings with bemused interest. We will have to see how this new one pans out, but that will be another story. This is assuming (and deeply hoping) that she lasts with us, given that we have been rejected by 3 maids who just threw up their hands and ran away screaming 'Itne naughty boys...aur teen-teen bacche! Nahinnn....'
We will all miss Rinki, and I can only hope that she gets what she wishes out of life. And if she does start her own beauty parlour, I might just make a trip to a distant little Bengali village to get my hair done sometime. I know Peanut will come with me.