My neighbor “G” had come home to return my bowl in which I had sent her some kheer (pudding) yesterday. I called her in and offered her some dosa that I had made. I know she loves dosa and couldn’t refuse. She settled at the dining table while I made crisp dosas for her. I came out with 3 plates, and setting it on the table, called my help Ashwini to come and join us.
Ashwini pulled a chair and was about to sit down when G let out a gasp. She bent close to my ear, and whispered, “She’s sitting with us?”
I nodded. “She always does.”
“Have you lost it?” she asked me. “How can you ask her to sit with us?”
Ashwini was suddenly uncomfortable and she picked up her plate. “Didi, I’ll sit in the other room,” she said and walked away.
I felt really bad for her. I usually have a late breakfast and it’s kind of a habit now that I have my breakfast with Ashwini every day, once she’s done with the chores. She is a lovely girl and she loves chatting with me telling me about her college and friends. She shares her problems with me, and I teach her English.
I saw her finish her dosa quickly and she left with a silent ‘bye.’
After she had left, I told G that Ashwini must have felt bad.
“What’s there to feel bad?” she said, “She must know her place.”
“I don’t think you must differentiate like that,” I began.
“How can you make her sit at the table with you?”
“What’s wrong with that?”
She didn’t bother to answer.
“And to top it you are serving her hot food in your regular plates.” The stress on hot was not lost on me.
“She doesn’t even have a separate plate?”
I had had enough of that rubbish.
“She works in 3 homes in the morning and then goes to college, G. She is exactly like you and me. If anything separates us, it’s our financial condition. With all the hard work she does, she’s bound to come up in life some day. She’s a lovely girl.”
G wasn’t impressed.
“If my mother-in-law knows this, she will never eat in your house again.” She said as she popped the last piece of dosa in her mouth and stood up to leave even as I wondered if I should give her a piece of my mind.
Some people, I tell you….