Last month, when my mother met with an accident and got her right clavicle bone fractured, the doctor advised her six-week bed rest. The restricted movement of her right arm was enough to leave my mother in terror. For she is someone who has always led a vigorously active lifestyle throughout and considers asking for help from others a blow to her self-worth. Being the one-man army, handling all kinds of chores -- be it domestic or business -- adds to her self-reliance and empowerment.
As expected, the rest wasn’t as frightening to her as asking for help. It bothered her even more while seeking help from her married daughters. We did our best to help her cope with the awkwardness. Knowing it wasn’t easy for us to juggle work, society and our families, she decided to take a local maid’s help.
Our toil started with a persistent effort to fix an appointment with Malti, the maid. We learnt that she kept busy the whole day and carried a mobile phone for business queries. Finally, she showed up at our house late in the afternoon for a cup of tea.
Short, weary-eyed, dark-skinned with rough hands, she settled herself on a chair, not before she had placed her cell phone and bicycle keys on the adjoining dining table. It didn’t take my mother long to come to the point. Malti enquired about the accident to gauge the gravity of the need we had of her help so that she could start with her terms and conditions.
“Aunty, it’s the right arm and you need good amount of rest,” she exclaimed. “About the house work, you needn’t worry. I will come from tomorrow and then I won’t be there for the next two days as it is Navratri puja at my place, followed by a Sunday,” she declared. Then she explained, “You know aunty, nowadays, it’s essential to keep a check on husband and kids on Sunday.”
My mother and I were quiet listeners in this one-sided conversation. She further reasoned, “Aunty, since you are hurt, I don’t mind helping with the refreshments to the visitors who would come to see you. Of course, you will take care of the extra charges for the additional working hours.” Having said this, she got up, had a close look at my mother’s hurt arm and excused herself.
Quite against my expectations, I found my mother nodding in agreement at the door while Malti was leaving. Apparently, my mother’s affirmation had taught me yet another lesson, ‘Majboori mein gadhe ko bhi baap banana padta hai.’
The writer is a soft skills trainer at a private university