Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Those Who Do

I don’t know her name. I have met her quite a few times, but I have never asked! There are places where you can’t really socialize beyond a point. Since the owner of the Press calls her Madam, I call her Madam too. She calls me Sir. Such mutual polite political correctness is quite rare in these days. How old is she? Around 40 would be my guess. She is small, unimpressive, not exactly a brilliant typist. But she is special.

I was working on some journal or the other. This particular Press is famous for its product quality, honesty, and unbelievable prices. The one single problem is that it is short of space, it is a two-seater, hence short of staff. So whenever there is a deadline, it becomes the client’s privilege to do much of the work in the Press sitting alongside our friend the owner or if before 5 p.m. alongside this lady. It was one such occasion.

It is difficult not to talk especially if you are sitting two feet away from another person for an hour or so. She casually said that she will leave early. I nodded. Not my problem – that probably was my reaction. I was deeply pressed for time. A lot was to be done. After an interval she told me that she has to go home early because she has brought a small one home. Very unsure of what she meant I managed to look interested. Words in such situations are more of an embarrassment than help. I have Mr. Pinter to thank for this little bit of insight. I think she was looking for approval, perhaps even applause. I don’t blame her. What she had done was worth it. Encouraged by my fascinated face she told me that she had named the child something. So it was a child. Now my problem was what “brought a child home” meant! Was it her’s or was it brought? She answered me without being questioned.

Apparently the child was born of a woman of very low financial stature. Her husband had died after she had conceived and was in a period when abortion is not advisable. She had no standing of any kind, and did not know what to do. It was not a difficult choice for Madam. She went there and legally adopted the baby. No hesitation. Not that she was in a much more comfortable position moneywise. What was even more surprising was her mother-in-law’s out and out support. Apparently she had said that their blood was of no royal stock, so who cares if the baby is born of her son or of her daughter-in-law! There were some more pearls of wisdom, in the nature of fraternity of mankind, but they are the ones you would expect. Madam frankly told me that they might have been able to afford treatment; her problem was not so great. But why waste so much money! That money will now come in handy, the baby can now be properly educated.

How many people spend how much money on similar problems? I am not for once saying that they should not. Motherhood is a right that I firmly believe in. Fatherhood, of course, is a whole different affair. As a wise friend often says that children may or may not be Mama’s Babies, but they are always Papa’s Maybes! I have a very good friend (and a very good writer) to thank for this bit of angst.

I actually did not know what to say to Madam. This left me silent. I suppose this is how we learn everyday, from every surprising corner.

No morals. Just life.


Sucharita Sarkar said...
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Sucharita Sarkar said...

No smart-ass cynical comments. Only admiring surprise at your fluid change of style and subject.

A certain frizzy-haired, inappropriately-booted gentleman might have said,"Bravo".

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