Mar 13, 2006

How lucky !

Aarti was looking tired, with drooping shoulders and a sweating face, carrying a school bag weighing half her weight.

"Mummy...where are you?", screamed Aarti.
"I am here, my sweety", arrived the reply from the computer room.
"I'm very hungry. Give me something to eat", said Aarti in a low tone.
"Give me a minute, dear. I've baked a yummy chocolate cake for you. I'll get it", Reena, her mother replied.

Washing the dishes in the kitchen, Vidya was staring at the chocolate cake, longing to have a bite. Having heard the footsteps of Reena, Vidya quickly turned around and continued her task at hand. "Are you still washing dishes? How long do you plan to take? Take this list and buy vegetables", shouted Reena. Trembled with fear,her tender palms lost grip of the porcelain cup she was washing and broke into pieces. Reena went furious but she controlled her temper since she saw Aarti
coming towards the kitchen having heard the sound.

"What happened,mummy?", Aarti asked. "Nothing. Vidya had broken a cup. You wait in the living room, sweety. I'll get you snacks to eat", replied Reena in a calm voice but in an angry mood which her 8-year old daughter couldn't recognize. She didn't shout at Vidya but took a piece of chocolate cake for Aarti and left the kitchen.

Wiping off her tears,Vidya took the list and the shopping bag. She could feel the love and affection showered by Reena towards Aarti,feeding her the cake, the same love and affection she has been longing for 10 years since her birth. Born to a poor house-maid Kamala,Vidya has never seen her father. Kamala couldn't afford to bring up her little treasure in this money-driven world. Forced by poverty, she had to lose her treasure. She had to leave 5-year old Vidya in a temple fair, praying to God that a good-hearted person finds her child and gives her good life.

On a yearly visit to the temple, Reena and her husband Ashok found little Vidya alone, crying and searching for her mother. Ashok felt so much pity for her."Poor child, someone has left her alone. Let's take her home. She might give company to Aarti", he suggested to Reena. Though not convinced by his suggestion, Reena had other plans and she agreed to it. Her rude face showed up once in a while, her anger and frustrations related to her work pressures were always showered on Vidya with no second thoughts. Inspite of knowing Reena's true face, Ashok, a workaholic husband didn't interfere too much in his wife's ruthlessness.

Slowly Vidya became an unpaid house maid. She lost her childhood amidst a sense of unbelonging, fear and inferiority complex. Though Reena was a cruel lady, she made sure that Aarti is unaware of how Vidya was being treated by her.

Watching Vidya coming out of the kitchen, Aarti said with a pleasant smile, "Mummy, why don't you give a piece of cake to Vidya?". "She is going to the shop now, she would come back and eat", replied Reena, knowing very well that she would never give one to her maid. Vidya's dinner is already lying on her plate; chapathis that Reena burnt while chatting with her friend in the morning.

"Mummy, how lucky Vidya is! She never has to go to school or do homework. She always stays at home. I want to be like her", exclaimed Aarti, waiting for a response from her mother.

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