Gangu Bai is in bad mood these days. Her seventeen-year old daughter has been refusing to get married and Gangu Bai feels that soon the only people left for her will be divorcees or cripples. While I am inwardly shocked at this backward thinking, I’m seasoned enough in life to know that this is how a large chunk of population thinks and no amount of cajoling from my side will help matters. But, not my children.
My daughters are horrified and heartbroken at the prospect of such a young girl getting married and each day they try to talk to Gangu Bai about the ills of child marriage. She tries to listen patiently to them knowing they’re educated and visit me rarely, but then closes the conversation by saying, “This is what happens in our side.” My daughters don’t have much to say after that.
But this post is not about the tragedy of Gangu’s soon to be married young child-girl. It’s about Gangu herself. The light of my life Gangu – because she does all my house work and I can’t imagine life without that kind of help. The love of my life Gangu because I am a cleanliness freak and feel suffocated and dying in a dirty house. The stench of my life Gangu – well, because she stinks more than a fifty-day clogged gutter!
Gangu, Gangu, my prince charming,
Your words are kind, your smile disarming!
When with a magic wand you clean my house,
I feel I’m in heaven and you’re my dream spouse.
But your smell is lethal,
It causes annihilation total;
From a distance you can intoxicate,
You’ll wipe out the civilization at this rate.
Yes, that’s true. Gangu exudes a smell that can kill you from a distance. Sometimes I wonder if I should suggest the Indian armed forces to use her as a lethal biological weapon. But then I wonder where will I find an alternate maid from and decide against the call. So instead I have just started stocking up on extra air fresheners and deodorants in the house. I have started lighting agarbattis when she walks in. And most of all, I have offered her a bathroom where she can come in and take a refreshing hot water bath.
Gangu has lapped up the offer gleefully and understandably so. Getting to take a bath in a clean and well-designed bathroom, with a modern shower system, good soaps and fresh hot water must be like vacationing in Disneyland for her. Or for anyone who has to sharing a bathroom with around twenty people of the community, pray for regular water supply and deal with problems of privacy and resource shortage.
So while, I am a bit guilty of counting my blessings each time I see Gangu Bai’s struggles, I have in the meanwhile found a solution to deal with her smelly-ness. After a hot water bath each morning, when she emerges from the bathroom, she looks reborn, rejuvenated and a little more happy. And while that obviously makes me feel relieved, it makes me a little happy from inside too.
I’m hoping that with the freshness, joy and peace of mind that she achieves from these wonderful hot water baths, Gangu will reconsider the decision of marrying her young daughter before the right time! 🙂
Note: This post has been written for an activity by Racold. Racold Thermo Ltd., an ISO 9001:2008 company, is a fully owned subsidiary of Ariston Thermo Group – Italy, the world’s leader in the manufacturing and marketing of water and space heating products and their components. Racold is the largest manufacturer and seller/ exporter of water heaters in India. You can go to their Facebook page and check out their fun Holi game app!