Pheebee was a fish I had for sometime. A marvelous purple fighter. Oh what a beauty she was! The shades of purple, blue and magenta on her tail used to flicker when she would make a twist in that round bowl full of water. She used to circle in the bowl the whole day. When I would go for work, I would cover the bowl with a book to prevent any misshapen insect falling into the water. In the nights when I would turn off the lights, she would go to the bottom of the pot and not move. Not make a noise. When morning would come and I would turn on the light, she’d slowly get accustomed to the light and would start moving again. At nine, I would give her three grains of fish-food and she’d eat them like one eats after a day of fasting. And then she would swirl again in the water causing ripples on the surface. She was the queen of her little kingdom.
When I was in Bengaluru, I got a chance to go to Hybiscus for audit for some time. It was a small shop of garden accessories. Colorful terracotta pots, ornamental plants, vases imported from Bali beautifully showcased in a small wooden hut. Inside the hut was a small table which was stacked with brochures and hand outs for visitors, a table calender and a computer with wifi connectivity. The accounts of the shop were drawn using that system. We could work on that computer system. There were two wooden chairs with a round red pillow. An air conditioner was installed in case the sun showers it’s blaze. Outside the hut was a veranda with a swing hanging in a corner and an inviting sofa to laze. Green grass around giving it a classic country touch. Pavements made up of stone were laid down to move around the garden. Stone fountains were an object of desire. Though the place was just behind the main road but the sounds of the city wouldn’t dare disturb the impeccable quiet of the shop. And the air was the pure of a village. The cool in the winds would give you goosebumps but then the sun would shine and the heat will give you the kind of pleasure you could die for. It was a dreamland. Two ladies in their 40s worked to keep the shop in place. They would come by eleven in the morning and spend the rest of the day in the shop. They had to take care of the accounts, the garden and in case any visitors come, they would have to attend to them. They would be paid by the owner of the shop and they would be happy. Theirs was an easy and peaceful work life. Come. Laze and go. And get money. The kind of life that is good to lead when you retire from work when you’re old.
I have shifted to Mumbai and I am staying in a Parsi House. The owner of the house, Aloo Aunty expired a few months back. The maid Bharti, who took care of the old lady did so very well that the relatives have asked her to stay in the house till the prayers of the deceased come to a formal end. And here I am with a maid sharing a one room apartment. Bharti Aunty is a sweet lady in her 60s. She gets up at 6:30 in the morning when the crows on the window caw. She likes to sleep on the floor. As soon as she wakes up she rolls the cot and folds the blanket and puts them on the bed. Then the milkman rings the bell and she collects milk. The florist comes and she buys flowers for the house. She puts the flowers in glass vases and then she prepares tea for herself. She has as habit of taking a chapati with tea as breakfast daily. Then she gets on with cleaning the house. She brooms the floors. She mops and then sits on the bed next to the window. The crows still caw and she gets up and brings bread crumbs for them. Aloo aunty used to feed the crows when she was alive. When the crow won’t be hungry, it will not eat other bird’s eggs. This is the reason she used to feed them daily. And now even after she’s gone the ritual continues religiously. Every morning the crows will come and every morning they’ll be fed. Once she is done with the morning business, she takes a bath, washes her gowns and hangs them on the rope tied inside the room. And then she lies down and relaxes. That’s her job done for the day. Bharti aunty doesn’t cook much. She orders boxes for food. When the food comes, she eats and lies down. Bharti Aunty doesn’t read newspaper. She watches some TV in the evening. For the rest of the time she lies down and keeps turning sides. She sleeps in the night by 10:30. That is the end of her monotonous day. She doesn’t go out of the house. Probably because going out would imply spending monies and she doesn’t want to spend monies. Her family is back in the village. Her husband has a job of tailoring which yields barely enough income. Her son has low job opportunities in the village and has a family to support. So that is the reason Bharti Aunty stays in this house because she gets paid Rs. 7,000 per month. Once every year her son comes to collect Rs. 70,000 that she has saved. And so she goes on living days that are not too different from each other. She is fine with it. Such is her life.
I think of all these people I know and I think of the lives people lead. I think of happiness and sadness. I think of dreams and aspirations. I think of stability and monotony. I can not say what goes into doing what they do. I think of myself and how someday I dream of having a big house somewhere in a quiet place with books and music and I think of being happy and satisfied with my life. And then everything looks so stupid and senseless. Is there really any place in the world where our souls can be satisfied? Is there really any such destination? I look at myself and I look at the room. The yellow walls are peeling. But I love it. There’s beauty in the peeling walls. Somehow as weird as it sounds, I love these worn out walls. They are artistic. They have traces of the old lady who lived here all her life. They have seen her laugh like a kid. They have seen her go mad. They have seen her never come back. Do they miss her? Is that why are all these freckles? Well I do not know. I am sitting on the bed she used to sleep on. I look out of the big french window with the beautiful creme curtain carefully folded in the middle. It has been raining bountifully today. Since morning I haven’t seen the rain stop. It’s lovely out of the window. I think of Shubham and how much I wish he was here in this room with me and these rains wouldn’t stop and this day wouldn’t end. I miss him. Instrumental songs are playing in my mobile phone and life seems so darn good! O! The crow is back and is all drenched in the rain! It is eating the rice Bharti Aunty threw from last night!
I guess this is how life goes on day after day. Happiness has no meaning. Day after day we will find something to go on. One thing leads to other and then to another. Life is beautiful without trying to reason out anything. Life is to be led. Day after day. Be grateful for all that you have got.