Of filter kaappi and maakkolams, of pookalams and kaineettams, of madisar and settumundu, of mangaacurry and mysorepak, of books and words, of pens and colours, of steps and rhythm...
To the good at heart, I offer a feast ;
Mess with me, and I'll be a beast :-D
The next time we met, we conveniently forgot the conversation over breakfast, and the talks steered to common daily affairs.
Every time I was with her, I felt blanketed with peace. I didn’t know how that happened, but her presence seemed to ward off evil thoughts invading my heart and filled me with renewed energy. I was grateful for that, because I felt I needed it in my life.
Certain happenings at the office drew me closer to Mahita as a human being and increased my love for her.
She used to bring extra food to share with me , as she knew I didn’t cook for myself . She was a good cook, and the meals would be delicious ,simple and quite filling. We’d have our lunch together at times ; sometimes she left my share in a separate container in the office pantry for me to have later.
One day, I was lunching alone, when Shahzad, one of our office boys , came searching for Mahita.
“ Vinod Sir, Mahita madam yahan nahi hai?”, he asked, coming in to the dining room.
“ Nahi, Shahzad. Why…what happened ? You want a computer?”, I asked him in a jovial mood.
“ Computer kya computer, Sir. Woh madam kisi ke liye jaan de sakti hai”, he replied, half jokingly , half in a serious way.
“ Accha ? Why do you want her now ?”, I asked.
“ Arey Sir, unhone mere abba ka operation sponsor kiya thaa na, he’s discharged now.Unko bataani thi yeh baat,” he said.
I was surprised. I didn’t know this. I asked him for the details. He told me that his father had been a labourer in a construction camp, and lived with him. A few days back, he’d been diagnosed with a growth in his abdomen which had to be removed immediately, for his survival. A surgery in the UAE cost a fortune, and Mahita had borne the expenses , as the insurance coverage was very less.
And the hospital was the one where Kamini worked, and I knew some of the doctors there. I could’ve spoken to them had I been here at that time ; but Mahita had done much beyond what I could or would have done.
“ Not that only, Sir. She sent home food for abba daily,” Shahzad said in his broken English.
I smiled, and said, “ Aur kuch chahiye toh bataana, Shahzad. Mahita ko main inform kar doonga, tumhe jaana hai to jao.”
“ Thank you, Sir. Main phone kar loonga unko. Aap please bol dijiyega”, he said, and left.
I conveyed the information to her over tea that evening, and she was delighted to know that. She’d been away at one of our showrooms at noon, she said.
“ I admire the kindness you shower on them, Mahita. You really have a big heart,” I said.
She chuckled. “ Big heart, indeed ! No, Vinod, a little kindness doesn’t need a big heart. It just needs a heart. And a little sympathy. And a wave of empathy,” she said.
“ May be, but I haven’t seen many people do that here,” I replied.
“ There’s kindness everywhere around you, Vinod. You need to look for it. See it. Enjoy it. And give it back. What seems someone’s duty to you would actually be the kindness he or she’s bestowing on you," she said, looking at me intently for a few seconds, and wished me goodbye for the day before walking gracefully out of the dining room.
What was she referring to ? Who was she speaking about ? And why did it pierce me like an arrow ?