Living truth in India

  Most people in this building did not perform nucleic acid tests on their servants. They worry that if these servants test positive, who will serve them.
  In Kolkata, if you are a middle class, it is easy to overlook some things. Before the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, many of us had never noticed the poor who lived with us: servants, cooks, and drivers.
  42 years ago, her mother hired Saraswati to take care of her young sister and was responsible for making tea for the family. Saraswati is like a mother. If we don’t eat well, we will be trained by her. Naqshva, who is in charge of cleaning, has a deeper feelings. They are hardworking and enthusiastic. Saraswati puts an extra layer of butter on my bread every morning. When Naqshva made my bed, he smoothed out every fold. I was taken care of like a king.
  For many years, my parents and I have liked to say: “They are like our family.” I never questioned this statement. Until 2019, I returned home from work in Mumbai for many years and suddenly realized that my family was actually divided into Two areas. My parents and I often stay in the bedroom, living room and dining room. In the kitchen that I don’t often go to, Saraswati and Naqashwa would sit on the ground to eat, and their rice was cheaper than ours. Saraswati spreads out the mattress every night and sleeps on the floor in the living room, while Naqshva sleeps in the “maid area” of the building outside the apartment. He only enters ours when it needs to be cleaned. bedroom.
  After the outbreak, their situation has become more difficult. In March last year, the whole country of India entered a state of lockdown, and Naqshva came to me in desperation. He goes to Bihar once a month to pay his daughters. After the blockade, how should he give it? Naqshva asked me if the “new crown pneumonia” was another way of saying death. He looked a little anxious and wanted to return to his family. I finally realized that our home is just where he works.
  On April 24 this year, my parents started to have a fever. I heard Saraswati coughing in the kitchen, and Naqshva said that he was aching all over. We all went for a nucleic acid test, only I was negative. Dad’s blood oxygen level has dropped to the point where he has to be hospitalized. Through various relationships, we finally figured out a way to get him to be admitted to the hospital. But what about the rest of the family?
  We have never purchased any medical insurance for Saraswati and Naqshva, which makes me very ashamed. Over the years, if they have minor illnesses or pains, my family doctor will come to help them, but we never thought about what should be done if they need to be hospitalized. We feel that if their condition worsens, we will send them to a private hospital for treatment.
  I asked them to live in the spare bedroom at home to recuperate, but they expressed that they would rather sleep on the ground. They don’t even accept food served in our tableware, they want to use their own tableware. Naqshva’s phone kept ringing, and it was all his daughters. For the first time, I realized that he also has a family who loves him, not just an efficient servant.
  Their reluctance to break class boundaries has resonated in our middle-class social circle. When I asked the doctor to prescribe some medicine for the two of them, the doctor smiled and said to my mother that I felt my care for the servants was a bit too much. After hearing that the nucleic acid test of my domestic servant was positive, a relative asked me on the phone: “Do you think Saraswati can still make tea for your mother?”
  Saraswati returned home when his father was discharged from the hospital. And Naqshva has almost recovered. Saraswati started taking milk, making tea, and washing dishes as usual, but he was much happier than before. Naqshva looked a little sad. What makes me feel fortunate and a little uncomfortable is that the original order of the house has returned.
  I heard that most people in our building did not perform nucleic acid tests on their servants. They worry that if these servants test positive, who will serve them.