Are All Poor People Thieves and Crooks?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jumping to conclusions without proof of any kind or evidence to back them can be embarrassing at times as Anaya's mother discovered...

Submitted: August 10, 2017

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Submitted: August 10, 2017

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When I returned home from school that sultry summer afternoon, I wasn’t prepared to be welcomed at the door by a new person.  Sweating profusely, shoulders drooping with a heavy bag on my shoulders, I was dog-tired after an hectic schedule at school.  I never liked Thursdays at school as there was no games period that day.

Thinking of a hot lunch waiting to be served to me at the dining table, I pressed the door bell several times.  This wasn’t the first time I was behaving so impatiently.  Every time I did so, I would hear my mother shouting from inside, “Have patience!  I can’t come quicker than this!  I don’t have anybody to help me to do multiple household chores.  It is not just restricted to opening the door!"

But that day was different.  It was all quiet even after repeating  my restless behaviour.  All I heard were the muffled steps of someone who noiselessly opened the bolt of the door.  Looking quizzically at this unknown person in my house, I asked: “Where is my Mom?”  Timidly she said: “In the bathroom.”  Sizing her up, I threw a volley of questions at her: “Who are you?  What is your name?  Where have you come from and what are you doing here in my house?”  Hesitatingly she said: “I work here.”

“Since when have you started working here?  When I left for school in the morning, you were not here.  My mother was managing the entire house.”

“Yes, I came here a few hours ago.  A person from the placement agency dropped me here,” said the girl who had a sallow complexion, broad features and dry and frizzy hair tied into a tight plait.  Her crumpled, frayed and faded salwar and kameez seemed to have not been washed for quite some time.  Pushing her slightly aside, I entered the house and shouted out for my mother.  She came out in hurry.  “What’s the matter?  Why can’t you maintain peace in the house?” 

I pointed towards the stranger with my forefinger.  “Ah, she is our new domestic help.  Finally, fortune smiled on me and I have got someone to help me with the household chores.  Her name is Shanti.  By the way, Shanti, this is Anaya didi, my daughter.”  I wondered since when had I become a 'didi'.  Then I thought that though she looked older than me, I may be older than her.  I asked out of curiosity, “How old are you?”  “Seventeen,” she said politely.  “Oh, in that case, I should be addressing you as 'Shanti didi'.”  My mother asked me to shut up and sent Shanti to warm and serve food to me.

Shanti did as she was instructed.  Meanwhile, I threw my bag on the sofa and quickly changed my clothes.  The food was on the dining table when I came out of the bathroom.  It was super delicious.  “Mom, you have cooked this yummy dal makhani.  I feel like kissing your hand.  It is better than what we eat at that favourite restaurant of mine.  I have never ever eaten better dal makhani.”

“Why will I cook when we have a servant at home?  What will she do then?”

I looked at Shanti and remarked: “I love you for this dal, Shanti didi!  You have to cook this dal for me at least twice a week.” 

While she smiled and nodded her head, my mother glared at me, “Her name is Shanti.  And that’s it.”

I went straight to my room after lunch and was surprised to see it so spick and span.  Everything was in its proper place.  “I can’t believe this is my room,” I wondered.  I am not an organized person and my things are always at sixes and sevens.  Fortunately my mother is also like me so it never leads to any conflict in our family.

My mother came to my room to give me a few instructions viz-a-viz Shanti didi and clearly stated that she did not want me to talk much to her.  She said: “She is a servant and should be treated like one.  Don’t try to be nice and pally with her and spoil her.  It is with great difficulty I have managed to get one and I don’t want her to be spoilt.  Keep her on a short leash.”

“On a leash!” I said shockingly.  “She is a human being like you and me, not a dog.”

“You don’t know these people so do as I say.  And yes, just be careful about your things.  Keep all money and precious things locked up.  You can never trust servants.  Living in poverty all their lives, they think of becoming rich overnight by devious means.  They know that they are indispensable for us and take advantage of this fact.”  While mother was sharing her wealth of knowledge about the so-called ‘these people’, I wondered how a frail and timid girl like her could harm us.

Yawning, I requested Mom to let me sleep.  My exams had got over a day earlier and I wanted to catch up on the sleep that I had missed.

It was the commotion in the house that woke me up late in the evening.  I heard my mother screaming at somebody.  I was startled and sat up in bed.  My father also seemed to be back from office.  “How come he has  returned so early?  He generally returns around 10 pm.  Groggily I looked at the wall clock.  It was fifteen minutes past seven.  Suddenly somebody banged open my door.  It was my brother.  “Hey!  Come out quickly, Mom’s expensive diamond ring that Dad gave her a month ago on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is missing."

“What?  I saw it on her finger this morning.  It is so beautiful that I can never take my eyes off it.”

“You are right, but that gorgeous ring is not there on her finger now and she suspects this new girl in the house.”

I quickly got out of bed and went to the drawing room.  My mother was on the sofa with both her hands on the sides of her head.  She looked up and broke into tears.  She mumbled: “I swear I will never keep a full-time servant again.  I just want my ring back.  It cost your father a bomb.  Your father used part of his savings to fulfil this wish of mine of owning an expensive solitaire.” 

While my mother continued, I stole a glance at Shanti didi, who was standing near the door of my parents’ room with her trembling right hand clutching the edge of the curtain; tears were flowing down her cheeks.  I urged my mother to stop crying and look for it at all the places.  “You might have kept it somewhere and forgotten.”  It does happen with her all the time.

She retorted: “You think I am that careless!  I never take off that ring.  It is so dear to me that I never let it go out my sight.”

I insisted.  She refused and accused this new member who had just come to our house a few hours ago of theft.  I stood aghast hearing these allegations.  It was hard to believe that this girl who seemed so frightened of my mother could muster up enough courage to steal her ring.  Shanti didi began weeping uncontrollably on hearing my mother’s accusation.  I turned to her to console her.

Incensed with anger, my mother screamed: “Don’t you dare sympathize with her.  She is a thief and a liar!  I will hand her over to the police and they will teach her a lesson.  And you, my own blood—how can you think of being nice to her in these circumstances?”

“Um… I thought…”

“What did you think?”

“Go to your room!  I will handle this.”

My dad gestured with his eyes for me to go.  I did so but I felt that there was something wrong and this rustic girl did not seem to be capable of stealing.  Suddenly the door bell rang.  It was my friend, Rinki.  Instead of calling me out,  Dad sent her to my room.  Seeing the glum environment, she asked me “Is all well?  If you want, I can come later to practise Maths problems?”

“Nah, it is ok.  You be comfortable.”  After a pause, I added, “Actually the cause of tension is my mother’s diamond ring that has been stolen.”

“What?” she said with her eyes popping out. 

"But how, when, where?  When did aunty realize that her ring was missing?”  She asked as if she was a reporter or a policeman making enquiries.

“I don’t know much.  I am sure she will find it soon.  She has called the police.  Let’s get to work.”

“Before we begin, can I use your washroom?”  “Why not?  But you go to Mom’s as the flush is not working.”  I got up to take out the Maths text and notebooks.

Just a few minutes later, I heard her calling out for me.  Panting, she dashed from my mother’s room to mine.  “Is this the ring? she asked, holding it up in her hand?  For a moment I couldn’t react, and then I shouted, “Yes, this is the one!  Where did you find it?”

She replied: “In the commode.”

“Really!”

“Hmm.”

“How did you take it out?”  “Eat mangoes, don’t count the trees,” she said, a little embarrassed.

“Ok, forget it!  I went running to  mom and shouted “Mom, Rinki has found your ring.”

She couldn’t believe her good fortune.  Smiling, she too asked: “Where did you get it, my dear?”

Rinki said: “As I got up to flush the toilet, I saw a glittering object in the commode.  I used the toiled brush to take it out and then washed it with soap.”

“Thank you so much, darling!  You don’t know what this ring means to me.”  Then my mom hung her head in shame.  A few seconds later, she curiously asked: “But how did it reach there?”

My father and I said in unison: “How do we know?  You tell us.”

She lowered her eyes and said meekly: “I don’t know.  It is slightly loose and must have slipped and fallen.”

The answer had us all in stitches except for Shanti girl who was still holding on to the edge of the curtain and staring at us.  We heard the police siren outside and I remarked to my mother: “Just as all the rich are not virtuous, so also all the poor are not sinful."

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