Shilpa Dikshit Thapliyal’s short story captures the unspoken bond of trust and respect between two women across social barriers.
‘This is a mid-size house,’ Leela nudged Gulabo. ‘Few lanes down the road are the more majestic kothis. I will take you there one of these days if you don’t like this one,’ Leela added, her saucer eyes dancing in the afternoon sun.
Gulabo was half listening, her eyes resting on the leafy gulmohar tree right outside the kothi. With its slightly bent trunk that angled smoothly, it resembled a hand that was holding an umbrella against the sun, filtering the rays through its stalky branches, and casting lively shadows on the ground. The fern canopy wasn’t in bloom yet, she would have to wait for the summer to see the tree burst into its scarlet flame-like flowers.
They crossed the lawns to reach the side gate. Leela pointed towards a small white iron grill gate at the right side, ‘This is the gate from where you will have to enter. The main gate is meant only for Memsaheb-Saheb and their guests, staff has to enter from the side, ok?”
Gulabo nodded distractedly, admiring the manicured lawn shining like an emerald carpet. All along the brick boundary wall, were neatly pruned shrubs of mogra and champa, little white flowers popping amongst the dark green leaves. The gardener waved at them as they walked by. ‘Another staff member who works here,’ Leela added, pointing in the direction of the gardener and waving back at him.
Gulabo noticed blotches of wet mud on his otherwise clean pants and shirt. Looks like he is preparing a new flower bed, Gulabo made a mental note to check on it later, curious about the variety of flowers that he was about to plant.