An unexpected miracle
Wiping her sweat soaked forehead, Palak walked towards her apartment. The heat seemed to get worse day by day. She was pleasantly surprised to see her former housemaid Mini waiting at the door.
“That’s a real surprise, Mini! What brings you here? Queried Palak who had looked after her like her own daughter.
“Mai,” explained Mini, “I was here for Baba’s operation. Minor one. Over now, he’s recovering well.”
She stepped in with Palak who sank in a chair out of exhaustion. “Mai, you’re not looking after yourself,” was an unexpected remark from Mini who had got her a glass of water. She then emptied out the contents of her bag on the table. “I got bread, cheese and butter. I know Jeet and Jia love cheese sandwiches. Give them when they come back from school.”
Mini brought out a plate and served some parathas and dal to Palak.
“What is this, Mini? I was going to make some dal chawal for myself.”
“Had made these for my parents and since you’re my second mom, I packed some for you too,” smiled the sprightly young woman. Palak had persuaded her to complete her H. Sc. and after her marriage, she had got a job in a school although she now lived in the satellite town of the city.
The doorbell rang as Palak was relishing every bite of the meal. Mini opened the door to the grocer’s delivery boy who placed a large number of packets of the floor. Palak was shocked.
“Mini, are you out of your senses that you ordered so many things? I won’t be able to foot this bill,” whimpered the heartbroken widow.
“This is a very small thing that I’ve done. Your timely aid to my family helped us survive,” recollected Mini and went about carrying the packets to the kitchen.
Palak had lost her husband suddenly a year ago and was emotionally shattered. He was a great pillar of strength to the family. He had some intuition about his impending end and one fine morning had paid two years’ school fees, bus fees as also housing society dues. Somehow, she carried on her daily routine with a tight fist. She had approached a school for a teacher’s job and was told that a master’s in philosophy was not their requirement. She had gone to a play school and had received the most unexpected reply.
The head of the school smirked and asked her, “Have you looked at yourself in the mirror? You look like a ‘phatichar’. Our students come from the cream of the society. We would not like you even as a back office employee!” She was broken further.
Mini called her and asked her to supervise what she was doing. “You know it all, Mini… but you must take the money for all this…..” she trailed off.
“Mai, don’ embarrass me by saying this. And Mai, please, please start dressing well. You have grieved enough. You have good clothes. Start wearing them,” Mini advised, “I’ll come after two months now once the school starts the vacation and my son too is free.”
She rose and embraced Palak who was in tears and holding back her sobs. “Mini, please do me favour. Post these two letters on your way home. I think God has sent you as his angel.”
A few days later, Palak received a reply from Richa: “Sorry Palak can’t return the money you gave me as I am still not out of the woods. As soon as I can, I’ll send the money. Don’t have to remind me again.” That was rather brusque, Palak thought.
The second letter followed the next day. It was from Sameera. Palak half expected a negative reply. She opened the envelope to find a cheque of ten thousand rupees! The accompanying message was: “Palak dear, I had misplaced your address and number. With the money you gave me in my difficult times I started a small business of cosmetics and now it has flourished. I am sending some pamphlets and catalogues and sample products. You could promote them if you wish. If there is an encouraging response, you could be my franchisee in the area and earn something yourself. I leave the decision to you.”
On the ‘Open Day’ of the school, Palak dressed well and took the catalogues to the school. After the meeting she showed them to the parents. Orders poured in first for a couple of items and then in bulk. Palak could visit the bank with her head up.