I still remember, the first time, when Shanti entered the threshold of our home. Barely into her teens, timid and fragile, she tightly clutched her maternal uncle’s arm. My mother inspected her and asked few questions about her well being in order to make her comfortable in the new milieu. She coyly answered all the questions. She was asked to leave so that my mother could decide the terms of her employment with her uncle. She went to her designated room to take some rest and recover from the long train journey before starting her new job.
She was our new housemaid. Within few days of taking charge, she took the entire household chores under her belt. She stealthily became an indispensable part of our family. Usually, after finishing her day’s work she came to my room to watch TV. I always encouraged her to resume her studies, which she left halfway due to family’s financial penury but she gave the old lame reasons of excess work, difficulty in coping with studies, and continued watching her favorite soap opera.
Once, while watching tumultuous scene of violence on domestic servant on TV, she innocently told me, ‘Didi, this is so untrue. My aunty ji and uncle ji are just like my mom and dad.’ On that moment, I noticed a twinkle in her eyes. She further told me how she was apprehensive to come and work at our home. Being the eldest daughter, she was forcefully sent by her parents to work so that some financial help could be sought. Well, now she considers herself lucky when she compares her life with that of her sisters back home. She is treated as a celebrity back home among her family members with fine experience of city life.
Now, after spending 12 years in our home, she never wants to leave. Her parents want her to get married but she agrees only on the pretext that she continues to work at our place even after getting hitched. My parents are willing to take care of all the marriage expenses. They are even keen on finding a suitable match for her. After all, she is family. Truly, some relationships are beyond the realms of the society.