So many decades later I can say this .... 😁
Newly married, my husband & I moved to a neglected land- holding that belonged to the family.

Besides a pump room, gardener’s room & our own two rooms there were 3 Neem trees, an unidentifiable hedge & a profusion of overgrowth - home to snakes & other creepy crawlies.
Soon with the Mali I began the exercise of clearing & cleaning one part of the land hoping to grow tuberoses ... that of course is another story ... of unrealistic expectations built on a 4-hour electric supply & water entirely dependent on it.
He was accustomed to being his own master & didn’t take too well to this enthusiastic but novice young woman that he suddenly got landed up with.

Mostly sullen, he surprisingly turned rather amiable in the afternoons - after his bath under the precious gush of tubewell
water, his lunch & a leisurely smoke.

Fresh & clean with the mornings hard work behind him, he would bang on our door for the most inane reasons.

I soon realised it was basically a need to make conversation, quite surprising for a man who only grunted otherwise.
This sociable self I deduced had something to do with those unidentifiable shrubs which he lovingly tended to.

Upon my instructions to remove them he had insisted on keeping one ‘auspicious’ Shivjee ki Booti ....& I being ignorant of such matters didn’t think any harm in it.
Anyway the long & the short of this story is that he came banging on our door one hot, mid afternoon again, all shiny, clean, smiley & informed me that
~motor jawab de gayi !~

Irritated to be woken up from a nap, with an excitable dog yapping at the door
I had got angry at him remembering a litany of other grievances -

~What ?!
What are you saying ?
You’ve had so much of that stuff that now even the motor has started speaking to you ?
Take your things & leave immediately.~
He was most shocked at my reaction & quietly, without much argument packed his bag & left.

Later that evening when I informed the spouse that I had sacked the Mali because he had claimed that the motor was answering him back he rushed from the dinner table to check the motor-
our most prized possession on which our entire well-being depended upon.

Seeing him flash his torch in the well, flicking the switch on & off I sarcastically asked
~Are you also expecting it to speak to you ?~

Needless to say from that day not only did I begin working on my
Hindi but also begged the Mali to return to work.

Have to say that he not only forgave me with commendable generosity but was with us for more than a decade thereafter, transforming the once barren piece of land to a lush haven of over 150 trees & flowering shrubs !

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