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Thursday 29 October 2015

Of Bais Gone By (A Saga) - Chapter 4

'Bahula tai', Contraptions, The Lalitaji-Surf Ad, Day-today staples from long ago.....
Herculean Tasks

Much to my shock and bewilderment, the entire neighborhood knew of Bahula’s exploits and modus operandi! But thankfully, no one was yet aware that she was in my employ. My glorious dreams of bragging to the snobs about my new find were quashed. Leave alone bragging, even mentioning that she worked at my place, would make me a fount of mirth and entertainment! My only solace was that, I was not alone in this quandary. Once updated and informed of the source of hysterics at the society gathering, Mrs Joshi had remarkably sobered down, and in fact managed a rather becoming bored look at the goings-on! On cue, I donned my own blasé mask. We consciously drifted away from the circle of humanity entrenched in besmirching other fellow-beings! I tried to draw along with me as many as I could tempt and lure with li’l Pink’s antics! While Mrs Joshi, doing her bit, adding vivid embellishments to the other pleasures of the festivities - the food stalls, enticed many more!
My new-found partner in misfortune, nudged me when she noticed Captain Dubey, passing by. She too had been gullible enough to be taken in by his suave marketing skills! I acknowledged the broad smile he bestowed me with a dark ‘Et tu, Brute?’ look! His smile died and he walked away rather confused at my baffling attitude.
I racked my brains as to how to deal with this fresh blow! I couldn’t digest how deviously 'The Dubeyji' had conned me into taking on this human cannon-ball of disaster! And to think that he was out there, strutting in my husband’s Reebok’s, targeting other hapless victims like me - of course kind of mollified the blow…I wouldn’t be the sole spectacle!
But what could I do now? Hunt out another maid afresh? Run through the entire rigmarole again?!

‘A real friend is one who walks in, when the rest of the world walks out’  
After some brisk circulation and hobnobbing, Mrs Joshi confided that, through her vast network, she had thankfully found a substitute for the behemoth mountain of clay 'working' at our places! This new replacement was to start work at her place from tomorrow! And, she continued, that she was willing to share her find with me! Hallelujah!! I was saved by this altruistic,generous neighbor whose name had been frequently tarred with the brush of stinginess by Bahula during the course of her gossip updates! How unfair and untrue those tidbits of hers had proven to be!
Reporting back to base I shared news of the latest debacle to strike me, the lady in shining armor, and other minor headlines with a rather unsympathetic and disinterested spouse. He proposed we toss a coin to decide whether B.B (his pet name for Buxom Bahula) stayed or not! My withering look, didn't elucidate the desired response from him as he was busy playing peek-a-boo with li'l peanut! A pensive night contemplating various scenes executing my first experience at firing ensued, each more worrying and wretched than the other! 
The next morning, I opened the door casting Bahula a friendly look, having finally resolved to lay her off as gently as possible. Bahula her beaming self, grabbed the baby from me and holding her high, chanted, “Kidhal hai meli shoni polgi?”(Where’s my golden girl?) How do you tell her to heave-ho, buzz off, when she has the baby smiling adoringly at her and gurgling away in her arms? No, this was inhuman; my better-self cringed its mean intentions! Off with how people viewed, undermined and denigrated my bai! Just because she bumbled her way about her work, didn't imply she had to be bumped off! I had mentally committed to make her a permanent appendage of my stable, and I was beholden to that! (Recall-Sallu's commitment dialogue?) 
I would find a way to make this work!! Boldly going where no woman has gone before, I embarked on the ‘Reform Bahula’ agenda! The underdog/cow would score and the erstwhile mud-slingers would eat their own words!!
Hmm, very easy to pass such noble resolutions, I thought, now facing the dilemma on how to process words into action! I guessed my scientific background and analytical skills would have to be roped in to produce the desired changes in my bubble-headed Juno’s actions! Meticulous planning and intensive research gave birth to a Weekly Log chart of her various activities at my place. I was rather proud of my own ingenuity at formatting such a unique T.M.S (Time and Motion Study) chart! Each activity (Floor-cleaning, Laundry, Cooking, etc) she performed had its own chart. Each activity itself was split into multiple stages, graphically represented – by yours truly! For instance the Laundry chart ran thus : 

I am sure that this schematic operations flow chart could easily have made big bucks, had it catered to an assembly line in some manufacturing plant! A hand-made project, no machines were used to create this one, it was deemed to be solely tested on humans - more specifically one LARGE human. The days of the week were represented by icons of different colours - Bahula despite her haphazard ways managed to remember days of the week wearing a particular colour saree for a particular day! Some great being at her home had successfully devised and implemented this remarkable technique to make her remember the day of the week!
These prodigious charts were duly pasted with a flourish on all requisite areas – bathroom doors, kitchen walls etc. All Bahula was required to do was, to go about her work in the designated sequence and mark the task done with a green crayon, handily placed. Nothing could be simpler I thought, as I eagerly waited to take her through this breakthrough plan.

Well, to be fair, Bahula gave her whole-hearted attention to the charts exclusively customized for her and listened very diligently as I explained it all. Her face scrunched in utmost concentration as she went through the various charts! What actually registered, remained to be seen!
Tucking her saree about her in her typical combat style she marched ahead to put the new battle plan into action. I smugly watched her look up the Chart no 1-Floor-cleaning and hunt out the broom. She swept up the whole house in a jiffy and went to look up the next task. Reminding her to mark a DONE with her green crayon against the broom icon, I slipped into my bedroom to delve into my new novel, with the comfortable feel-good of a fait accompli!  
Meanwhile, Bahula puzzling over Chart no 1-Floor-cleaning, chanced a look at Chart no 2 alongside – the Laundry chart. She felt drawn to that set of activities, so she decided to embark on them – Step 1- Soaking the clothes in soap water. While the water filled up the bucket, she went into the kitchen to drink some water herself. The Dish-wash Chart in the kitchen seemed even more tempting. So she had to have a go at it. Her loud booming voice humming over the clashing and clanging of vessels, reached my ears. 



Mentally I registered that she was in the kitchen…. already?! I didn’t see her wet-mop the floor after sweeping?! I was enjoying my book so much that I didn’t feel like dragging myself from the plot where the zombie girlfriend was trying to zombiefy the entire neighborhood so that the hero suspected nothing of her true identity! The creaky squeals from my antique coconut-scraper in the kitchen startled me a bit. The kitchen symphony presently stopped and all was quiet. After a good fifteen minutes of silence, I couldn’t take it anymore. 

I ventured a peek into the kitchen – half the vessels washed, remaining in the sink. The man-handled coconut scraper on the floor. In the bathroom – the tap running, bucket overflowing, soapy water all over. In the living-room, the mopping pail on one side and…there she was! She had pulled down one of The Charts and deposited some of her hoard of tambaaku (blasphemous!) on it and was rummaging her precious potli…..when I just lost it! 
“Tai what are you upto?” I screeched. “Did you finish all your work? Why did you pull down The Chart? Did you mark on The Chart? Where is your green crayon?” I fired at her in rapid succession!
Timidly, she answered, “ Tai, mereku sab samjha ekdum mast! Maine wo paila kagaj dekha, us pe likhne ko gayi, tabhi  baju wala kagaj dekha, toh socha  wo kaam chalu karu, phir keecheen me ek aur dekha,” giving me an appreciative look, “Kitna mast rangi-berangi chitra banaye tumne…mast!! Toh bhandi chalu kiya! Baju me nariyal dekha toh khisne ku bhaiti. Itne me mujhe yaad aaya….ara-ra-ra…..mera hirva penshil kuthe gela? Toh mai idhar aayi apni potli me dhoondhne ku! Pan abhi tum mereku bolo, me konta kaam karu?”(Translated as – Tai, I understood everything just great! I saw the first paper (The 1st Chart!) and was about to mark on it, when I spotted the second paper, so thought I will start that work, then saw another one in the kitchen, you have made such nice and colourful pictures! Started on the vessels in the kitchen. Saw the coconut lying alongside, started scraping it. Suddenly I remembered, where is my green crayon? Came here to search in my potli! But now you tell me, what work should I do?)

‘God helps those who help themselves’ – prompted itself, while I was controlling the teeth gritting process! Ok, now how do I apply that proverb to this situation? 
I calmly told her entertain the baby, while I went about restoring order in the places Lady Chaos had permeated ! 
I tried helping myself, sorting the problem my way, now Lord it’s your turn! (O Palanhare, nirgun aur nyaare, tumre bin hamra kaunu naahi…..)

That night I had a divine apparition in my sleep. It is strange to view your dreams in movie screen size with Dolby effects! Well, I guess the special guest appearance justified the need for such dream quality enhancements! It was Godess Durga in all her finery and absolutely bedazzling to behold, I felt humbled that she had deigned to visit my dream! I was also puzzled that this larger-than-life deity – uncannily resembled Bahula! She gave me a million dollar, mega-watt bright smile and opened her vermillion lips to ask me, “Meri potli kidhar he?”(Where's my little pouch?) and in a shimmering blur vanished!!
Yes, indeed the Gods had intervened and spoken! I had no trouble whatsoever interpreting this magnificient dream! I was to hold on to God’s own  potli…..Bahula tai - For the better or worse....(till death do us part?)....damning me till eternity?! We shall see...

Note: All characters in the Of Bais Gone by - Saga series are fictional. The situations however are inspired from real life. Any resemblance to any character, living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional.

Chapter 1 << Chapter 2 << Chapter 3 << Previous

Copyright © 2015 KALA RAVI


  1. Modern management can go thus far and no further.When it lands you in a cul de sac, go back to our eternal Vedas,puranas and epics.Devdutt Patnaik found out as much and written an entire book on it !.You have done it better
    Nothing is more penetrating than satire ! Excellent .

  2. A witty take Kala. One gets a feel of Mumbai, maids and mayhem. :)

  3. A very enjoyable post as usual laced with humour ... Kudos!

  4. behind every successful woman is a Bai

    they say

    Enjoyed reading your Bai saga...


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