Photo: Dr. Farouk/Creative Commons
Photo: Dr. Farouk/Creative Commons

A doctor

A short story

It is Saturday morning. Uma has to take her daughter to work with her, as Preeti's school is closed on weekends. Her husband leaves for work by six and her mother-in-law, the only other member in their family, leaves right after. Uma's parents live far away, in the suburbs of Chennai, and there is no one else she can leave Preeti with and leaving her four-year-old child alone at home is not an option. Luckily, none of Uma's employers, including us, mind her bringing Preeti to work. Even if we did object, there was little she could do besides quitting. Over the week, Uma goes to work only after dropping Preeti off at school. The girl is later brought home by her father, in time for lunch. Her mother-in law is usually back by then too. Uma gets home in time to prepare the midday meal for the entire family. Lunch is usually a simple affair — vegetable curry and dal with some rice, or sometimes sambhar and rice. There is always some curd-rice, which does not take much time to prepare.

Uma just rang the doorbell at her employer's apartment in central Chennai. It is about 10 am. I open the door drowsy-eyed, having just awoken. Usually an early riser, I take it easy on weekends, sometimes even napping after breakfast as I did today. Now I work as a senior consultant, in the consumer, retail and services division of a multinational executive search firm. I had approached them to find me a suitable profile, no longer finding managing the lifestyle department store in Chennai a challenge, so when they offered me the role I had accepted eagerly. I sometimes work on Saturdays now, to meet time-starved, high-ranking candidates, to make mandatory assessment reports for urgent hires.

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Himal Southasian