13 Years. Kid. Mischievous. Loved ice-creams. Loved Cadbury. Loved Rains. Loved to Play. A typical child. And like every other child, she hated Mathematics. Her mother, Neha, was a typical mother. She wanted her child to do all things which she herself was unable to do. Neha lost her husband a year ago. In 10 years of their married life, she had seen so much happiness that the loss of her husband came to her as a disaster. Since then, she took up the charge to bring up Saloni and wanted to fulfill her every dream. Saloni was her only focus and both mother and daughter had a great time. Neha managed to get few girls to stay as Paying Guests (PG, as they say) who shared their rooms and paid something. More than the rent, Neha and Saloni actually wanted company.
But also, living in Mumbai is tough if you have got adjusted to a lifestyle and then you suddenly don’t have access to it. Saloni was a kid, but strangely, she understood. She never cried for Cadbury in the shop, never cried for Masala Corn in the mall, neither she was fond of the junk food. They were lucky that they had an apartment in Mumbai and they managed somehow. I knew Neha was searching for a job. I worked before my marriage and I am trying now. But since I had a break of nearly 10 years in my career, I am not able to get into one now. I am a Cost Accountant… Nick, Do you have any openings in your company? Neha would continue..
She wanted Saloni to become and engineer or a doctor and would keep asking me how I studied and always asked me to help Saloni in her subjects. I would politely say yes, but knew that it is not possible. Which kid would be awake at 11:30 PM at night to study Mathematics. And which Program Manager would have the luxury to return home before 11:30. Program Manager who is forcefully single.
Sunday Morning. No office. One day when I live for myself and my family. Pains of yesterday were gone. I was feeling great. I wanted to thank Neha. And I wanted to cook something for my neighbours, my only extended family in Mumbai. Saloni loved sweets. The easiest thing to cook was Custard Kheer. I was no cooking expert. But with Google around and with Mom on the phone, no one needs to be. In minutes, I was looking up the internet for recipes. Its good that the STD call tariffs have come down drastically and Internet speeds on a Wireless Datacard have shot up in India.
3 table spoons of Custard powder, ½ cup condensed milk cream, 2 table spoons of sugar…Mix up the contents…Boil Milk and pour… And lo..The custard is ready. I put in the refrigerator and am done. In 30 minutes, amazing custard is ready!
As I rang the bell and waited for Saloni to open the door, I was trying to think if I put sugar in the custard. Saloni saw me and was very happy seeing me. Bhaiyaa, Aap mere liye kuch leke aaye hain? And when she saw the custard, she was overjoyed! I loved her smile. This is the family which saved my life yesterday and gives me a feel of home away from home. Neha came out of her room, greeted me and asked me if I have sometime today to teach Saloni. I had all the time in the day. Lol. Salonis smile faded. She brought her Maths text book and said – Uncle!! Aaj thoda sa hi padhna hai.. Aaj na meri tabiyat na .. itna jyada thik nahin hai! I was smiling. Mathematics can make me Uncle and Chocolates/Custard can make me Bhaiyaa.
17 more days in Mumbai. 17 days remaining to accept Kotler as God.