Tarabai came into my life in the year 1974, just before my son’s second birthday. I have watched her dedication to work all these years and if I have understood the real meaning of ‘Karmayogi’ then she is a perfect example of one. Day in and day out she carries out mundane household chores with dedication and perfection. Sometimes when she is relaxed she gets into a talkative mood and narrates incidents from her past, some pleasant and some not so pleasant.

Her grandfather, a farmer from a small village of Maharashtra, had come to Pune when he lost his small piece of land to a money lender and from an independent proud farmer; he became a servant in the house of a rich Parsi family.Tarawas a small baby then. She grew up there and went to school till she learnt to read and write but soon she too was required to work along with her mother. Her old employers were fond of her and treated her kindly. Things changed when the eldest son got married and a new dominating daughter in law entered the family.Tarano longer received any special treatment; she was treated like any other servant in the house.

One morning, the daughter in law found her new wristwatch missing. Every servant in the house was questioned severely, includingTara, and each of them denied having seen the watch. The lady was livid, the watch had been given to her as a gift from her dear father. Ultimately a police complaint was lodged. The entire staff was lined up and questioned by the officers. They could not elicit any information from them. Two of the policemen took all of them to the police station and locked them up there till the next day. Tara, a sixteen year old young girl, sat there among the other servants, shivering and crying the entire night. The next day they were released with a strict warning and the group returned, sad and crest fallen.

After a week there was a call from a watch repairer saying that the band of the watch had been lengthened as desired by the lady of the house and asking why they had not collected it as yet. The loving husband had given the watch to the repairman when his wife had complained that it was a bit tight on her wrist. He had forgotten to mention it to her and indeed, had completely forgotten about it till the shop keeper rang up.

No apologies were offered to the servants, they were just informed that the watch was found. ‘How callous….How heartless,’ I thought. How easy it was for the rich to suspect the poor. Even today when she narrates this incident, I see the hurt and anger inTara’s eyes, her biggest sin being her poverty.

Just as Tara finished telling me the episode from her earlier years and I was still thinking about the injustice done to her and the scars that must have left on her, our dog Bonney snatched the dusting cloth from her hand and ran.Tararan after him shouting and cackling like a young girl. I watched her in amazement. Is there some special unique gift that God bestows on the poor that they do not dwell too long on the past hurts.

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19 responses »

  1. sudha says:

    thank you all for your kind remarks,sudha

  2. Ramana says:

    Dear mam,

    I am really happy that tara bai living with great people like you and sir. I always feel great for being associated with wonderful family like you.

    Regards & thanks
    Ramana

  3. sunamu says:

    “Is there some special unique gift that God bestows on the poor that they do not dwell too long on the past hurts.”

    A good sum up. Any sequel to this planned. Narration is very interesting.

  4. sudha says:

    Thanks friends,Tara is delighted with your kind comments.You are welcome Sneha

  5. nadi says:

    so good of you to write this

  6. shyamola says:

    Tara is almost iconic —lovely sunshine person and I m so glad that you wrote about her Sudha! Great start!

    shyamola

  7. Sneha says:

    Very sensitively put…I’m glad there are people like you…STILL.
    This inspires me to pen a story on Tara.
    Care to share more details?

  8. vimala madon says:

    A heartwarming story. And the last para reminded me of a survey on the happiness quotient which found Indians being among the happiest people, notwithstanding poverty and unemployment.

  9. deepika says:

    A thought provoking story. Tara is not alone, there are many facing the same humiliation.

  10. Saroj THAPA says:

    A touching story beautifully told. The message is clear, just because a person is poor we believe that he or she is capable of doing wrong things, because poverty is itself a stigma.

  11. rahul says:

    These need to be told to our children and theirs too if society has to remain sane!

    Thanks Atta.
    Rahul Row

  12. How true this story is all over the world. It especially rings true in Bangladesh where I have lived for 3 years. The poor have no recourse to the law and abuse is rife.

    I have 3 staff – ayahs we call them here – and I consider them to be some of the most honest and wisest souls I have ever had the privilege to work with. They are a blessing to me and my family and I feel honoured to be able to call them friends.

    Alas, there are not many who think of ‘servants’ in such ways. For some, they are barely considered human.

  13. neetu says:

    hi madhavi…i do remember her from ch’mandir………besides d yummy dosas i also remember her making patchwork cushion covers!!am glad to hear she is still going strong…..she has ur family as an extension of her own….works both ways…….do ask her if she remembers old neighbours…neetu

  14. gc1963 says:

    A very heart rending account.

  15. isabel says:

    Tragedy, insults, injustices brought about by unkind masters/ humans… were few of the things the POOR has to go through. But I still believe that merciful FATE, GODS, SPIRITS and ANGELS are here on earth unseen to protect them. Bestowing them outright blessings or guised blessings in many ways or in this instance through YOU… for being so kind and caring despite her social status.

  16. Shernaz says:

    Sad, but true, that at some point or other most of us are guilty of suspecting the servant when things go missing/wrong…at least a momentary flash of suspicion passes by even if don’t accuse. Except for one, all those who have worked for me have been very honest, including the present ‘bai’. I am grateful to them all for that.

  17. Beyniaz says:

    Was happy to read this especially after meeting Tara Bai..and Bonney. A real ‘maid’ for each other jodi!

  18. Dear Sudha,

    Good to see you here. Your piece on Tara Bai was very nice, something, someone we may have encountered many a times in our lives. The humiliation persons like Tara Bai face just because they are poor is really bad. I think we should always feel blessed…

    • Sudha Gorthi says:

      Thank you all for reading my blog and for your kind comments which I really appreciate.

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