When I brought her to my house, she was supposed to be my maid. She knew she was still a kid. I taught her little by little : to fold clothes, to wash them, to boil water, make tea, fetch things. She was our househelp’s daughter. Very cute. When I was with my just born child, I needed a helping hand and so she came for us.
What I didn’t know was that, I was actually bringing up two kids. She was also like my child. Very obedient, she would run to fetch my things or things for my new born. Days passed and she was as close to me as my own kid. She learnt fast.
Our status is comparatively high. So, she rarely missed her own home. She would come back within two or three days, when she went for her “holidays”. Her mother used to complain. “She does not eat coarsely cooked food, demands for smooth cereals like you feed her.”
Saira. She loved me and my kid was very fond of her. They were great friends and that way I could concentrate in my boutique work. I couldn’t imagine life without her. “Saira get this now. Saira take Nadia out for a walk. Saira help me choose my jewellery. What goes best with this dress?”
She knew everything. She knew more than I know sometimes about my clothes and accessories. Or maybe she knew me enough to predict what answers I wanted to hear when I asked for her views. In fact she gathered boutique skills even and learnt to sew dresses. She started earning of her own whence at my place as a dress maker. My junior designer.
One day I was told, she was 16 already. Her mother called me often, worried that she needed to get Saira married. I was panicked. I couldn’t imagine life without Saira. Neither could Nadia or my husband. Not sure whether her own family would have the same to say about her! But then, cruel realities on earth do exist.
Her mom did start looking for her future life partner. Carpenters, High school pass outs but successful in “business”, and others in their caste. She used to send me their pictures asking for suggestions. I and my husband were no one to speak on this matter. Yet we advised her to avoid men who were in “business” as they were frequently drunk and would engage in shady activities. We had heard bitter experiences of other maids, vegetable vendors and women labourers in our locality. We even got to know that they’d beat their wives whenever something was amiss. Saira was a good girl.
In the matrimonial “market” even teachers showed interest because Saira was very beautiful. But then there were a lot to be fulfilled as “gifts”.
Saira will be getting married in another six months. She left me one fine day.
My Nadia is all grown up now and continues dancing without Saira. Days aren’t bad. My boutique work has enhanced with bigger orders, greater responsibilities. I am joining a Fashion Show next week and preparations are on.
“What shall I wear?” I have to arrange things fast and it has to be elegant enough. It’s my first Fashion show. Never did I feel so lost.
This morning I woke up to a call. My husband picked up. “Who is it?” He looked confused. I asked, “What happened?”
He said “Saira is no more.”
“What do you mean by Saira is no more?” I shrieked
“She had a stroke last night and died in the ambulance itself.” His voice was almost inaudible, but that’s the loudest I have ever heard.
I am not God but my heart, a mother’s heart, throbs like a thousand wounded serpents. A last wish, with which I had silently blessed her many times in the past, fills the dark air around me.
“You won’t live like a maid anymore, on earth or anywhere. You are free to rule again wherever you belong to. If you wish come back on earth, then make sure you come back as a queen. No one should stop you. No one can stop you.”