Kajri, Santo and Rajjo had gathered in the common area. Rajjo had just finished mopping the lobby. Santo had just completed segregating the garbage between wet and dry of the corner apartment where she worked. Kajri was done with the third house before she would break for lunch.
But today was special. The madam from 301 had given Kajri a box full of gajar halwa. Madam had hosted a big party where she was expecting 20 people. However, eight of them had not showed up. The ones who came told her that they did not like too much of sweets. Kajri had grated the carrots for hours. Her heart was as broken as Madam’s at this outright rejection of their efforts. Madam offered it to her kids who had rejected it even more brutally for the cake which was purchased by Bhaiya. Bhaiya had tasted the halwa and told Madam that it was too sweet. Madam insisted that she had put Sugar Free.
Where kids refused to eat halwa!
Where guests would turn up for dinner, only to eat nothing!
Where husbands complained that sweets should not be sweet!
But all of this did not matter anymore. For someone has truly said,
‘Daane daanne pe likha hai khane wale ka naam’. While making the halwa, Kajri had wished she could take it for her children.
Maybe madam will give me leftovers…
And her wish was granted! But she would not take it home without sharing it with her friends. She called Rajjo and Santo to taste her box full of delicacy.
‘It is so tasty Kajri! You are learning so many new things at 301 Madam’s house!’ Rajjo said as she took the first bite in her mouth. Food dropping from her mouth as she spoke.
‘Yes! That is why I said yes when Madam asked me to help her with chopping and making dough. See, now I do full cooking for her! How many times I have told you Rajjo, always take up new work!’
Rajjo squatted on the floor, her sari lifted up to her knees. ‘Na baba! I don’t like these Madam’s chik chik. I am happy with the facility work! No individual houses!’ she said folding her hands.
‘And the supervisor chikchik! That is okay!’ asked Santo. She looked at the tall, muscular man watching them from a distance like a hawk.
‘Come on! Finish your lunch quickly. Stop loitering around!’ The supervisor shouted at them, angry as always.
‘See, our madams are nicer than him at least!’ Santo was pleased she got to prove her point instantly.
‘You all have to work so many homes!’ Rajjo held her ground.
‘And we get so many benefits!’ Santo said revealing a fancy looking carry bag, her eyes glittering. Inside were clothes for a teenage girl.
She lifted up a purple dress, ‘Madam from 409 gave. Sanya baby wore it once and grew tall! It will fit Rano perfectly!’
‘It is in very good condition, looks new!’ Kajri added, looking delighted.
‘There are two jean pant also! I will give it for Raju!’ Santo added. Kajri looked grateful.
‘Oh and Rajjo, I am going to the village for one week. I told 604 Madam you will do the work then’.
‘I will not go there again! Last time also she did not give me a penny and I worked there for 10 days! Scolded me throughout! Both wife and husband!’
‘But I gave you Rs 500 na! I told her we will adjust! If you don’t go, she will keep someone else. I will lose the job permanently!’
‘Okay!’ Rajjo said reluctantly. ‘Now let me get back. Subhash is staring at me since then!’ Rajjo removed some tobacco from her blouse, mixed it on her hand and started chewing it.
‘You need to stop this! It causes cancer!’ Kajri warned her.
‘Cancer. It is an illness from which people die. Anyone can die! Even small children! 201 Madam’s mother-in-law died last year from it!’
‘Kajri has become a doctor now, after working at two doctors’ houses!’ Santo chuckled, putting back the clothes in her carry bag.
‘Really! You all have not seen that ad in the picture also!’ Kajri was surprised at their ignorance.
‘I have not seen a picture in a long time, Kajri! God knows when my husband will come back,’ Santo said looking sad.
‘Look at her! She is sad her man is not back! Every day I wish mine does not come home. Drunk ******! Last week he stole Rs 800 from me!!’ Rajjo said, visibly disgusted.
‘You should open a bank account! I have been telling you!’ Kajri said wisely.
‘What if he takes it from there too!’
‘He can’t! He wouldn’t know!’
‘Achcha enough for today!’ Santo got up with an urgency. ‘It is 3’ o clock!’
Rajjo and Kajri also got up. And the trio went their way. With their usual routine. This 10 minute daily catch up session was the only therapy they could afford. They never missed it. But effective it was!
For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.