Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The unknown benefactor

Selvi lived in one of those dingy flats for the low income grroup.When her husband was alive he managed to get one from Housing Board for rental.The tenement had gone from bad to worse with no maintenance and utter carelessness of occupants.It was a dreary place where only the poor lived.The sign of poverty was writ large on the building.She lived there with her three daughters and one son.The eldest was just fourteen with the youngest son at six. The children were studying in the corporation school.It was a life of misery and want after her husband died suddenly in an accident.
She worked in a nearby large white bungalow the whole day helping them in all work including cooking.It was a tiresome and back breaking job but she preferred this place as it was close to her house and they paid her generously what she would have earned if she had worked in two or three houses.The only snag was the landlady was a hard taskmaster besides being a perfectionist freak.She would accept nothing slovenly or half done.Selvi had to labour hard to please her and she was not easily pleased.While sweeping or swiping the floor she would stand beside her and ensure that she moved the furniture to clean the area underneath.At the end of the day she would check the clothes washed for any dirt or stain still remaining and reprimand her for carelessness. .She never spoke to her warmly and was always strict and formal.She knew Selvi’s poor circumstances but besides giving new clothes to the entire family on Deepavali, she never gave anything extra.She seemed a heartless woman devoid of any compassion for the less fortunately placed.
One day when the landlady entered the kitchen she found Selvi lying on the floor and the milk boiling over on the oven.The lady lost her temper and nudged her in anger.When she did not move ,she got worried and sprinkled some water on her face.She came to know that she had not taken food for two days and whatever left over she was allowed to carry was hardly adequate for her four children.But she showed no sign of compassion and left the room abruptly after saying “Be alert.I don’t want any major fire accident due to your carelessness.No point in giving everything to your children.Since you are working you must also have a share of whatever you have..Anyway take some rice and sambhar and eat it.” Selvi was deeply hurt at her insensitive manner and didn’t feel like eating in that house.But she had to eat to avoid the wretched dizziness make her faint again
It was one day later when she returned home she found a big bag by her door.She called her daughter and asked her who brought it and why it was left there.The girl denied any knowledge and said it was left by some old man informing that it was for Selvi’s house. Wondering who could have done this, she examined the contents.It had essential provisons for a week to run the kitchen.She was surprised at this God given gift that she needed most when there was not a grain in her house.She was tossed between the thoughts whether to keep it aside till she knew who placed the bag there or feed the hungry children.Her motherly instincts prevailed and she made a good meal for the happy children.
The landlady continued to be merciless in extracting the day’s work that made Selvi hate her from the bottom of the heart.She did not ask for money or things but just craved for a kind word of comfort or appreciation.Several times she toyed with the idea of leaving the job but restrained herself when she thought of gloomier alternatives.It was in these circumstances when she found the same bag of provisions kept by her door in the next week, she lost her cool.She called her eldest daughter and shouted at her “ I don’t want to hear any lies from you.Tell me who bring this bag every week?Do you have any boy friend or do you talk to any male in this block?”
The sobbing girl replied “Amma ,I promise I don’t know who brought this bag..I have neither a boy friend nor do I talk to anybody. How could you suspect me?”
Selvi was not mollified”Who do you think would leave a bag with provisions worth hundreds of riupees without any consideration?You do not want to see your sisters and brother starving and you were lured to get into bad ways to get these” she charged mindlessly
The girl started crying loudly. Selvi decided to unravel the mystery herself .She waited next week hidden behind the door..In the evening when it was dusk an old man brought the bag and left it.She caught him and asked why and at whose behest he was leaving this bag every week.He replied”Madam,I do not know.I am from Shanmugham stores and have been instructed by the owner to keep at this time every week this bag full of provisions.
Selvi was not satisfied and asked him to take them back if he cannot tell at whose behest these supplies are being made.He replied that he was not supposed to divulge and from what he had heard it was the lady of the white bungalow who had instructed the shopowner to supply each week without fail and send the bill to her.
Selvi was rendered speechless at the kindness of the lady who she thought was devoid of any signs of compassion. As she entered the house next day wanting to thank her profusely, she found her standing at the front door with anger on her face and exploding”Do you know what the time is now?You are supposed to be here by 7am.It is already 7.10am.I cannot tolerate such irresponsible behaviour from you anymore.I am not prepared to listen to your excuses also. “
Selvi did not get upset and instead smiled to herself knowing tthat behind the rough exterior there lay a golden heart and a warm benefactor ..


  1. heyy..really a gud one...nice..dre r ppl who seem to b tuff bt hav a heart of gold..:) nice story it was..

  2. Dear Kp,
    A wonderful story,though the end was assumed,the way u have narrated it kept my eyes glued to ur words moistening them towards the end,u could create the extrordinary out of ordinary...thanks

  3. Ah! The ending was really superb.... Though, I had a guess that it would be the landlady, the way you ended was really admirable! Brought a smile on my face :-)))

    And story was crafted excellently, as always :-)

  4. Yes some people have a hard exterior but are really kind when you get to know them :)
    The story is really touching!Thanks

  5. That was least expected. I thought it would be some angel! ;)
    But then, why did the lady behave so rude if she was such a pavam?

    Nicely written :)

  6. This is kind of true. I have seen my MIL behave exactly the same way with the maids. She would say "Don't be kind on their face. They will take you for granted. But give enough food to eat and they will bless u forever." Strange that we need play games and balance out our kindness with biting rudeness with the serving class.

  7. Good one Sir... Yes, it is true that there are many with tough exterior but soft interiors....

  8. And people who look soft but are very tough !!!

  9. Dear Partha,
    i'm surprised to see the tough lady whom i know very well in your post!but in real life,the mistress was asked to be kind with the maids.kind words work wonders n they[maids]long to hear them n feel the love.:)and these days maids ask for a proper beahaviour!
    happy blogging!wishing you a wonderul weekend,
    happy writing!

  10. yeah i have seen some people are not explicit about who they are or how loving or giving they can be. althou i am not one of those kinds, i respect such people and it was indeed a kind act by selvis landlady.

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  12. HI Uncle...

    Thank u....... for this cute one.. yeah, ppl sometimes look rough,, but their heart melt faster than ice..

    we must understand ppl..

    and uncle, while i was reading this, i could see the scolling down country visitors of ur blog on the left side..woww...78 countriess.... thats some thing grt ...

    am proud of u uncle...