Sujata Ramachandran Iyer settled herself in her Kandarpada home and relaxed. She had just returned from the US in the afternoon. Ganesh Sharma, who had been her husband’s colleague back in the US, had helped them to get a house in the Mumbai suburb of Dahisar. The next day, Sujata was going to join her new job there. Sharma was also going to send a servant, who would henceforth take care of the household work.
Sujata got up with the shrill ring of the door bell. It was morning.
“Good morning, Madam,” said the boy, who was standing at the door. “I servant you.”
The boy was a Mundu (in the North of India servant is called Mundu). Sujata understood that he knew some English. His name was Bihari.
The first job that Sujata gave him was to get a sandwich for breakfast. She was new to the place so she sent Bihari to get it.
Bihari took a few hours to return. In the meantime, Sujata bought some pao (bun) for her breakfast. When the servant returned, he had sand with him!
“What have you brought?” Sujata asked.
“What you told. Sand beach!”
Sujata then asked him to get beetroots. Soon there was noise of something being beaten by hammer. He had also dug out a root from the garden and beaten it flat!
When she asked for spring onions, he simply cut red onions in the form of springs!
Sujata could only smile. Then she asked him to get a cup of coffee. Since he had been trained in this work he did the job well. He knew 25 sentences in English and managed with that.
Next she asked for cookies since Sharma and his wife were going to visit her that day. Bihari went out looking for them. He went to the nearest Jhunka Bhakar Centre (where you get chappatis) and caught hold of two female cooks and presented them to Sujata as cookies!
She was losing her patience. To divert her attention she went to the computer and switched it on. She wanted to copy a file and take it to her office. But her pendrive was not working. So she told Bihari to get one.
Bihari took a pen and replied, “Madam, you can drive car. How to drive pen?”
That shut her up. She thought she would copy the file and send it to her own email id so that she would be able to access it from the office. But the mouse was also not working. She said, “Bihari, go to the computer electronics shop and get me a mouse. I will write the specifications and give you.”
“No need Madam. I get you mouse without specications (sic).”
Sujata thought maybe at least he will do this job properly.
At the computer electronics shop, he asked for a rat and said that he would pay them well for the same! The man at the counter was surprised and thought that he had got some crackpot as a customer that day. Just then he had caught and killed a rat from the ground floor shop and packed it up and gave it to him!
Sujata shrieked when she saw the dead rat. She thought enough was enough.
The problem was that she did not know Hindi at all. So it was difficult for her to explain things to him in a language he understood better.
So she called Sharma and told him what happened. She requested, “Sharmaji, he is good in household work. But his English is bad. Please get me a tutor from tomorrow who will teach me Hindi and Bihari English.” He promised and when Mundu left for the day Sujata slept the night peacefully since the next day would begin to solve her problems.