My co-brother (sister-in-law’s husband) who lives in London is given to springing surprises. It’s rare that he would announce his programme. Last summer, when he visited us with my sister-in-law, he was not only in for a big surprise but was shocked beyond words.
We had two domestic helps working for us. Sham had his leg broken in an accident while Ramesh was away to the market when the couple arrived at our house. They had to wait at the gate since Sham couldn’t walk as fast and receive them. After detailed questioning in the sun, they were ushered in.
The drawing room was yet to be cleaned. There were picture frames and other stuff lying on the sofas.
Sham made them sit on a settee asking them to switch on the fans and the lights since he could not reach out to the buttons as he walked with the support of a lathi.
Shrunk on the settee and being close like they had never been for years, the couple sat unmoved.
The intimidating presence of Sham, that too carrying a lathi, made matters worse for the two.
Sham then appeared with a tray with two glasses of water held in one hand and the lathi in the other. My sister-in-law politely refused water while her husband hesitatingly grabbed a glass.
When Sham left the scene, he drank from it.
As Ramesh took time retur ning from the market, Sham couldn’t infor m us in our first-floor bedroom, about the guests. Sham asked the couple if they would have tea. They seemed to have exhausted their patience but did not have the courage to ask Sham if he had informed us of their arrival.
Having returned, Ramesh casually came to our room to announce the presence of “some guests” downstairs. As many people visit us for seeking help and other things in routine, we didn’t bother much.
It was by chance that I got down and found the couple sitting as if in a jail and almost on the verge of breaking down. My sister-in-law gathered nerves to accuse us of apathy. Once things settled, we called in Sham to lighten the heaviness caused by the unsavoury incident. Seeing Sham with his trademark lathi had us in splits.