Utta’s Journal entry 2 – Summer 2004
It's funny how some friendships are not based on time or space. Such is my friendship with her. I come every two years, and even though I come so infrequently to the Mandaveli house, when she is around, it always feels so natural to just pick up where we left off. Now this time we only spoke at length twice, but it felt so spontaneous. I find it difficult to understand why people make so many demands off her - basically to sub for her older sister, who has broken her leg. Over and above work at other houses, she comes to work at our house for two hours on top of doing her BA. It all seems so unfair. What kind of life is that? She makes Rs. 400 a month. Recently thathappa decided to keep attendance and I confronted him about that. This seemed mean since she does not get paid enough. After that day he doesn't do it anymore. Perhaps he listened to me. Here she comes now sweeping the floor. Oh my, we collect so much dirt. I like the way she goes about her work, sweeping the floor, using Sabina to wash dishes and neatly washing clothes and rolling out the wet clothes in such a way as to make it easy to dry. I almost feel tempted to do the work, watching her do it. Of course, I know it will not be so much fun if it was a job. When she was younger she would accompany her mom and sister, who did all the work, and we would play hopscotch and this other game where we tried to pick up as many stones as we could as our palm hit the ground. I remember her teaching me Tamil and I tried teaching her English. We also played pallankuzhi upstairs in the dark. I remember her calling Rohan "Loganth" and him hating it. When the cat had kittens we would all carry them. Such good times - now looking back. I wouldn't trade them. I hope she doesn't leave us for a better job as selfish as that sounds, I promised to go to her home again this year, as I used to in past years. I remember people being so fascinated with me. They offered me chilled water, which I didn't drink, but it was a nice gesture. Now, the truth is I was self- conscious, but I will say yes the next time.
Visitors and guests
Just now, a man came to our door and said he was going to Tirupati and wanted some money. Jayamma gave him about two to three rupees but he wanted more. She shouted at him telling him he was ungrateful, and then he nodded and left. Just now another man came and asked if he could pick some flowers. I initially misunderstood thinking he was here for our upstairs tenants and then called Jayamma. She sent him on his way. It is amazing how many people come by asking for something. Pretty soon this old man will come in to ask for food. I want to give because I've been given so much in this world, but I don't know how much of this I would be able to take. I complain sometimes that my grandparents are cheap, not the most philanthropic sort, unless it has to do with us, but the truth is they are much more giving than any of us, the way they have taken care of Rajam athai. Even though they scold her sometimes, they are so patient considering she has been with them for the last 10 years. She is now 98. Also they deal with these people that come to our house every day. It is great, really. Jayamma often talks a lot about her problems. How she has been serving her family members ever since she was 16 and how she has taken care of sick and some sickly people all her life. Some don't feel sorry for her because she's constantly voicing it.
Music and miscellany
And for the last time, I don't want to go to your neurotherapy class, Jayamma! Today I have to sing for Dhanalakshmi mami. She's very nice and it is a tradition that I go and see her on every trip. She has been living alone for years now. I haven't practiced my music in a year and I'm not optimistic about the outcome. Jayamma reasons with me saying, I can sing. But how does she know?! It's going to really suck.
I'm in Mandaveli once again and I am bored. Why do I stay here, this long? Guilt? Some guilt and just to spend time with the grandparents, even though there is nothing (literally) to do. Today I sang for the first time. Jayamma busted out the tape player of course and give me pointers, as usual, which I mostly ignored. However, given that I haven't practiced for a year, I was good. Damn good. Thathappa even said so. They want me to come here for a year to learn music. Hell no. Haha, I can imagine the boredom already. I can also imagine no friends, parents, TV, internet. Man, that would be painful!So, I'm in an irritable mood right now, I just came home from the parlour. Thankfully alive, all the hair pulled out of my arms and legs, eyebrows and upper lip. And the most painful was waxing my underarms - which I rec