May 02, 2010
One night, I was suddenly awakened from deep slumber by voices nearby. Shaking myself awake, I pricked my ears to find out where the voices came from. Strange though it seemed, they appeared to come from the direction of my dining room and that of my neighbour’s, which adjoined mine.
“I am fed up with my mistress, she is so heartless,” remarked the first voice (I could sense the contempt in the voice).
“She can’t be worse than mine,” said the second voice. “My mistress seems to have lost her sense of smell and taste” (the words came out with undue force).
First voice: “Can you imagine my plight? I am stuffed to the brim beyond my capacity; no lung space at all.”
Second voice: “I feel you are any day better placed compared to the situation I am in. You may feel constricted, but here I am filled with so many vegetables and fruits that I am afraid any moment they may all tumble down one by one.”
First voice: “Doesn’t your mistress use up all these from time to time and replace them with fresh stock?”
Second voice: “She! Where does she find the time to use up what she has bought? The miser that she is, she believes in buying in bulk just because it is available cheap at some place. Moreover, don’t forget she is a working woman. Half the time she buys food from outside, so things inside me only pile up and remain as they are for eternity.”
First voice: “I understand. These working women are penny wise, pound foolish. My mistress is the other extreme. She stuffs me with a lot of food and recycles it from time to time with the result you never find me empty. She is also very fond of sweets and you will find a variety of them. Most of these are months old, having lost their flavour and taste.
Second voice: “What will she do with so many sweets? Doesn’t she offer them to guests who visit her? What will she do if they go stale? Will she at least give them to the servants?”
First voice: “No, she doesn’t have a heart to do either. But, recently, to my surprise, she offered some milk sweets to her guests, albeit reluctantly.”
Second voice: “That must have made you and the guests very happy.”
First voice: Yes it did, but our happiness was short-lived. Because I saw them come again the day after and giving something to my mistress who appeared furious when she saw what it was.
Second voice: “What was it?” Impatient.
First voice: “It was a strip of ANDIAL tablets. I suppose you know why people take Andial. ‘You may use them in case you decide to consume any of the leftover sweets,’ said the guests to my mistress; whose face turned ashen at these words.”
I noticed the voice trailed off in the darkness of the night.
When I woke up the next morning, I was relieved that it was only a dream, a dream with a ring of truth in it. From that day I learnt not to use my refrigerator as a dumping ground. But I had no guts to share my dream with my neighbour, who was a working woman not only in my dream but also in reality.
N Meera Raghavendra Rao