Raji took a deep breath outside Madam’s door. She knew Madam would chew her head off for bunking two days of work. But what could she do? How could she explain? She rang the bell.
Madam opened the door and glared at her.
“So you decided to grace us with your presence today huh?” She questioned as she stepped aside to allow Raji inside.
Raji just bowed her head and started to do her work. It was best not to talk now or give any excuses. Let Madam calm down.
While sweeping the living room she noticed Madam was watching herself on TV. She decided now was a good time…
“You look so beautiful in this serial madam. What lovely saris you wear and nice jewellery too.” She gushed.
Madam smiled slightly. But said nothing.
“Also such a tough role to act. I don’t know how you do it Madam! They should give you an award for this role.” Raji persisted.
“Actually…I’m getting an award for this. I got to know yesterday.” Madam said, grinning at last.
“Oh how nice Madam! You fully deserve it! I’m happy at least your life is going without problems…” Raji said in a voice choked with emotion. Tears welled her eyes and she dropped the broom to dab her eyes with her sari’s pallu.
“What happened…now?” Madam asked warily, though a little taken aback to see her tears.
“It’s my son… Madam, the naughty fellow was riding his cycle and showing some stunts, he fell down and got hurt so badly. So much blood! His friends came running to call me. I almost fainted when I saw all the blood.” Raji sniffled her way through the story.
“Oh dear….did you take him to the doctor.” Madam was immediately concerned
“Yes madam…I took an auto and rushed him to hospital. The first hospital I went, the watchman asked me if I had money to pay for the treatment…I said no…and he chased me away. Same story in the second one. In the third place they told me to deposit Rs. 5000. Where will I go for so much money madam?”
Madam was sitting up now, alert and horrified at the way she had been treated. “So what did you do?”
“What to do madam? I brought him home. Took him to our neighbourhood fellow. He just gave an injection and some yellow colour tablets. But my poor boy he cannot even get up and walk…” Raji broke down as she spoke.
“Oh no Raji! You must take the child to the hospital! I will give you the money…you take him right away… come later and finish the work.” Madam said and rushed into her room. She came back with Rs. 5000 and thrust it into Raji’s hands.
“Madam…how will I repay this…?” Raji muttered.
“Forget it. You don’t need to pay me back. Just get your child treated. Go now.” Madam said sternly.
Dabbing her eyes, Raji thanked Madam profusely. More tears welled up in her eyes as she praised madam’s kindness. Madam shushed her and sent her on her way. Raji got out of the house, wiped her tears and hurried home.
On the way she saw her son cycling.
“Aye…you fool. Don’t be seen anywhere near my Madam’s house. I just told her that you had an accident and hurt your leg. Get out of here.” She yelled.
The boy scooted with his cycle.
As Raji entered her house, her mother-in-law looked up in surprise.
“What? Did Madam throw you out of the job?” She demanded
“Only your stupid son is capable of that. Getting drunk and beating up people at work and getting thrown into prison! No thought about the family and what we will eat and how we will manage…” Raji snapped at her.
“Now let me go bribe the cops and get him out of jail. Here’s some money, go buy some provisions and get some food ready.” Raji gave the surprised old woman a crisp 1000 Rupee note.
“Your Madam gave money to bail him out?” the old woman wondered
“Oh if I had told her he had got into a drunken fight again she would not have given me a single paisa! She would have lectured me about leaving him. Easy for her to say! What does she know how we live? I had to manage somehow.” Saying so, Raji rushed out towards the police station.