I came down from our building, unlocked the car, was about to get inside when a man came and started speaking. He had some kidney problem and he needed money. Treatment was expensive here and he planned to accumulate enough money and go to his country for treatment where it was affordable and also his family would look after him.
He looked needy and I opened my purse. At that time my husband arrived. Yes in our home, women (me) dress up fast, men (he) take their time.
‘What Happened?’, he asked the man.
The same story was repeated. Show me, hubby said. He showed. So where did you get the bandage from? Kidney wounds will not be here and there is no scar, …..needless to say, the man ran away.
I moved my face the other way, I knew what was to follow.
‘When will you learn?’, was his query. I kept mum, there was no use arguing. I have been duped by everyone-the maid, shopkeepers, kids everyone and yes I haven’t learned my lesson.
I met a young woman with a toddler. We became friends. we connected more because we spoke the same language. There is a special joy in talking in your own mother tongue. So we met in the park and shared recipes and the best way to change nappies etc.
My evening walks began walk the talk and playing with the eleven month girl. But she always wore rompers. Now I like pretty frocks on little girls. Now you can call me a sexist or hypocrite but I do like chubby girls in white/ ink frocks.
‘why don’t you ever dress her up in frocks’, I asked my friend one day.
She was silent and then after sometime with tears in her eyes told me how her husband had not got his salary for so many months, how she could not go to work because the baby was small, about the responsibilities back home.
From that day on, whatever we got for our son was bought in twos. The other one bought for the little girl. My son’s toys which had been kept for nostalgia sake was cleaned again and given to her. If I was cooking something special, it was cooked extra and given to them. Well you get the gist.
It was annual vacation. And that year my parents wanted to go to our ancestral village. My father’s cousin still lived there. It was a pleasure to be there. The village was now a town and yet it had retained its old world charm. My mother was in her element. She ran here and there, absorbing the changes. ‘Akka, the new house nearby, whose is it?’
‘Oh, that. Do you remember the corner kirana store.’
My mom nodded.
‘Well the man died. His wife runs the shop now. Hs son went somewhere in the Gulf, makes lot of money and he made that house’.
My mom went to meet the lady and on her return got the news that the lady has invited us for lunch the next day.
We went. The living room had a big picture on the wall of her son and his wife and guess what… it was my friend and her husband.
‘Huh….is it your son?,’ I asked.
‘Oh yes’, she said with pride. ‘A very hard-working man. He built this house within a period of two years. He is a big man now, you should see when he arrives, his clothes, his style’, she said with dreamy eyes.
My mom glared at me. I always come as if I have arrived with the weight of the entire universe on my shoulders.
But she did not know what a big fool her daughter was.
* this story is a work of fiction