Meanwhile, in an apartment next to the lake, little Nandu logged into work at 8 am. To his friends, who asked him where he went everyday, he said proudly, ‘I go to work with mom’.
Radha smiled indulgently at her son, he was her first love, her worst enemy and also her best friend. In the years after her husband walked off, Radha had panicked initially but soon, set out to find herself a job. She found out a recruitment agency for cleaners and immediately joined. There was no time to waste. The boy was her lifeline. His future was her dream and her responsibility. Her mom did not press her to return to the village, with farm labour being harsh and low paid, it was better that she stayed in the city.
That decided it. Nandu faintly remembered his father and his parents’ arguments. Anyways, he liked Ramu uncle, he seemed to be a kind soul, better. It was difficult for him to love those who were harsh to his mom. With her big bindi, petit figure and curly hair, his mom was a beauty, he thought. He hugged her tight and dug his nose into her waist to inhale the faint santoor soap fragrance. ‘Amma’, he said simply.
Ramu had a small grocery shop and never hesitated to lend Radha and her son, the essentials, even when they did not have money. ‘I know, it is difficult, pay me back, when you get a job’. Radha said, ‘Thank you so much’. Ramu always gave Nandu a small toffee or two with a quiet smile on his face.
When his mom went from one apartment to the next with Deepa aunty to collect garbage, Nandu tagged along. He sat on the stairs and played with his toys. The car that went, vroom, vroom and then the bike, both were gifts from some aunt in the apartment. He liked it here.
When he first came, he saw many kids and had thought that he could play with them. But it did not happen. And Nandu realised why, when he was invited for a birthday party and was made to sit on floor. There after, he never tried to talk to kids out there. His friends were in the colony and that was enough.
Radha told her son ‘We are coming to work here. Don’t do any mischief. Don’t try to talk to everyone. If you study well, you can also live like them when you grow up. ‘ ‘Audhu, amma’, Nandu said . Life had given him more wisdom than what his age allowed.
Nandu loved playing with his blue ball