Perhaps all my mistakes cannot be simply attributed to the fact that I lived at Aunt’s. I used to make a lot of social mistakes, about which I was given long lectures every evening as to what I should do and what I should not. For example, while I thought it was normal to go out and say Hello to people when Uncle threw a dinner to his colleagues, I was taught that I should not barge into the drawing room, and that no one was really interested in saying hello to me anyways. I was a quick learner, and the next time people came, I didn’t go out at all, and was later reprimanded about the fact that I turned up late at dinner and had made the guests wait at the dinner table. Life here was confusing to say the least.
I managed to become friends with Esha when I was ten years old. Her mother worked as a maid at Aunt’s, and sometimes when it was a Sunday, she used to bring her daughter over to our house. Aunt would give them some food, and they would thank us and go home after the household chores were done. It was a strict no-no for me to befriend the maid’s daughter, but she was with who I felt the most comfortable. We shared kind of same thoughts. We both thought it was really cool to talk to strangers, because otherwise how would we ever make friends? We both wore clothes that weren’t new, and had been handed down from someone else. Well I used to do that before I came to Aunt’s, but she understood.
So it was that every Sunday we played in our room for hours. I did not have many toys, but she had some which she used to bring over. She was the best ever. She told me how she wanted to go to school, and that her mother did not have enough money. I told her how school was really horrible, and that she should be happy she never went. She wouldn’t like it one bit, I knew. The other students would bring fancy things for lunch, and would mock her if she ever went there. It had happened with another student one day, I remembered. Once she brought a Snakes and Ladders board, and we spent an entire day playing the game. When Aunt came home at night and asked me what I had done the entire day, I narrated enthusiastically about Esha and her board game.
Esha’s mother lost her job as a housemaid when Aunt learned of the new budding friendship between Esha and me. I was slapped in front of Esha, and told how wrong it was on my behalf to call her to my room and let her sit on my bed and use my toys. “Are you mad? Don’t you even slightly care about what I say?” she asked. I did not want to infuriate her any further, but I could already see tears tricking down Esha’s eyes. “Sorry, memsahab,” said her mother. Her mother reprimanded Esha, saying that it was entirely her fault and not mine for one, and that she would correct things and never bring her to our house, but please let her continue with her job, else how would she feed her family? Aunt rejected the offer almost instantaneously, and that was the last time I saw Esha and her mother. I learned that day how so many lives could be devastated only by small gestures of rich families. She would find a job no doubt, everyone needed a maid at home, but would that be easy to find? I did not care as much about that as I cared about the fact that I had lost my only friend forever.
So I went back to my regular life. Aunt asked me ever so politely to help her with the household chores for the time being until she found a new maid. I helped her enthusiastically, trying to wipe off the red marks, the bad impression that she had formulated about me. I kept helping her for some time, until I realized this was just a ploy. Aunt never got a new maid, and I never went back to school. It worked good for her both ways. I learned that day how even kith and kin really only care about themselves.