There is a truck parked in front of the lobby and furniture is being piled into it. The day goes by and another round of loading happens.
Later I am on my way to work and the driver asks me curiously… “Didi, do rich couples fight too?”
It sounds so strange that I ask him to repeat his question just to check that I heard correct. He repeats. I laugh and point out that couples are couples and each one has their share of disagreements.
He nods and then asks me very seriously – “But what do rich people fight about? (This bit reminded me of the Sholay, Angrez log suicide kyun karte hain?) We poor people fight because we’re short of money and food. It’s not easy to get along when you don’t know where your rent for the next month will come from. See this truck moving out? The sir moved his half in the morning and the madam is moving her half of their possessions now. How can they just split up and go? Itna hone ke bawjood jhagadte hain, what would they do if they had less?”
It wasn’t the most insightful or deep conversation I’ve had but it played on my mind for a long time after that. It is funny how we find something else to fight over when our basic needs have been met – ego, careers, hurt feelings, family, pride.
It also reminded me of my maid drinking cups of plain ghee that I would painstakingly make for the Brat and Bean. She said she needed to put on weight to find a good groom because being thin was a sign of poverty. And she’d look at me in horror when I turned down a teaspoon on my food. To the poor, looking fat is a sign of prosperity, but in the upper echelons of society, the richer you are, the thinner you need to be. Case in point, Nita Ambani and her current lollipop look!
Such a stark contrast in perspective….
Edited to add: I had to add this last one. Last night for Earth Hour we switched off all our lights at 8.30 pm and took the kids down to play in the complex with the other families gathered there. The maid opted to stay home and we told her to light a candle and stay up there since she didn’t want to come with us. We came home to find that she’d lit a candle and set it on my polished beautiful wooden centre table. The candle melted down and finally scorched the wood. And then dripped down into the weave of my handwoven jute rug to settle there forever. She then tried to make amends by scraping the table with a knife so that now it is not merely scorched but also covered in deep gouges.
I came home, took one look at my table and sat down to sob on the floor. She didn’t know what I was sobbing about. Why would one deliberately switch off lights when they are so easily available to us? What is the big deal with a wooden table anyway? They burn if for fuel in their village. Why do I spend time and money on polishing a pure wood table when I can buy a plastic or plywood one and wipe it down? I had no answers. I just got into bed and sobbed myself to sleep.