From being active to passive
While in school, I spent some summer vacations with my aunt Kamala in her village.
While in school, I spent some summer vacations with my aunt Kamala in her village. My aunt anticipated the arrival of her nephews and nieces and painstakingly prepared sweets and savouries, to satisfy our voracious appetites.
Aunt Kamala was a hard-working woman. When she went to sleep was always a mystery, because she was up and about when we woke up or went to sleep.
In the morning, after serving us hot beverages, she would go to the village pond. There, she bathed and washed her clothes. On the way back, she prayed at a temple for every body's welfare.
She drew water from a well in the backyard for use in her kitchen. She collected firewood from the cowshed and lit the fire for cooking. Rice was cooked with excess water and the water was drained into a vessel.
That water had many uses. It could be used as gruel. It could be used for adding starch to clothes for stiffening them. Or it could be fed to the cows who gave us milk.
She insisted that we bathed in the village pond and prayed at the local temple before eating food. She served our food on banana leaves. She taught us not to waste food. She served the most delicious dishes for us to savour.
She hand-pounded rice and urad dal which were used to make sweets and snacks. She encouraged us to play in the local playground. She nurtured in us good habits and great values.
She conducted her four daughters' marriage in the very house she lived. Her neighbours lent their hands and houses for the successful conduct of the marriages.
My aunt also helped all her neighbours in preparing sweets and savouries, whenever marriages and other functions were conducted in their houses.
After I grew up and took up a job, I did not find many opportunities to spend time with her in the village.
A few months back, I came to know that she had come to the house of her daughter in the city and went to meet her. Her daughter ushered me into a bedroom where the aunt was resting. I inquired about her welfare.
"You must be busy attending to household chores as always", I said. "On the contrary, I have nothing to do here. A cook comes at 6.00 am and prepares chapati, rice and dishes for breakfast and lunch. Three servant maids also come.
One maid cleans the kitchen utensils and mops the floor. Another maid launders the clothes. One maid comes in the evening, cleans the bathrooms and folds the dried clothes. My daughter returns from work in the evening and prepares dinner after checking the left-over food. You see, I am idling here," said my aunt.
"I know you were very busy in the village. Not doing anything must be boring. Why don't you relax for a change?" I said. "Idling is not my cup of tea," she smirked. Sadly, within a few days after I met her, she breathed her last. May be, ennui was insufferable for her.