Mysterious girl

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.... That’s what you are even now despite our many years of togetherness. Each day I strive to know you better, to understand what drives you, what makes you happy, what upsets you. Each day I wake up wondering whether you’ll make it to our daily rendezvous. Each day brings with it a longing, a dread, an excitement, as I wonder… will she won’t she. You have many faces, but scratch the surface and your heart and soul are the same. You are the same.

There are days you arrive…. in style. You walk in with the ease born of long association, as if your arrival was the most natural thing. You fill my home with warmth and happiness. I settle down with my warm cup of tea and contentedly look on as you take over completely. I am mesmerized as you touch my home with your magic. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

Then there are days when you decide to stay away. As the clock ticks I strain to hear the music of the doorbell announcing your arrival. When I don’t I’m devastated. Yet I know you’re doing it for my good. Like the perfect mentor that you are, you want me to learn to survive without you. This is your way of equipping me for disaster management. As I gear up for the day without you my adrenalin starts pumping, the dread changing into determination. I switch into fifth gear with the pickup of the fastest car. With super speed I strive to fill in the void of your absence yet the hope of seeing you tomorrow never dies. You watch me proudly as I learn to take it all in my stride. Do I complain of your absence? No sir, I don't. I can't.

You coached me in the art of assertiveness. With the finesse of a master you make most unreasonable demands and watch keenly whether I buckle under the pressure. Many a time I failed you, giving in tamely. Yet you watch and wait … you see me metamorphose into a confident woman not afraid to speak up, to say what she felt, to say ‘no’ emphatically. You test me sometimes. You pretend to stomp off in anger only to return with a smile reveling in your protégé’s success.

You are the reason for my perfect fitness – my flawless personal trainer, that miracle coach who trains by not being there. The tyres have disappeared and my skin is glowing since you walked into my life.

You taught me the importance of family. You’re Indian to the core. No Western nuclear family would do for you. Your uncle’s, dad’s, sister’s, fifth son’s youngest daughter is as dear to you as your own son. She’s family. I’ve watched in awe at your large-hearted devotion as you drop even the most important tasks to run to their side at the sign of the slightest trouble. I know it hurts you to stay away from me but they’re family too and I understand. Not for nothing have you spent precious time training me. Each day I pray for their well-being, for peace in your family so there’s peace in mine for without you my family, my life is incomplete.

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Today on International Women’s Day I salute you Sumitra Maushi, Sophiya auntie, Shanta bai, Puja didi, Meena tai, … Thank you all for teaching me to be self reliant by not coming in every day, for teaching me to say 'NO' each time you came up with strange requests, for getting me back into shape as I swept and mopped in your absence.

However I have a confession to make -- despite your determined efforts to propel me towards maid-Nirvana my world continues to revolve around you. I still wait to welcome you to my home each day. May this bond never break, may we live happily ever after.

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