The maid slowly trudged up the stairs leading to her employers’ apartment. The familiarity of the journey left her mind free to wander to her son and his pointless crusade. How she wished he would just find a nice girl and settle down…
She pressed the doorbell. A stern-faced woman in her forties answered. She glared at the maid in sharp disapproval.
“You’re late again.”
“Getting old madam, difficult to walk up stairs” the maid replied innocently.
The lady of the house gave a sigh and opened the door for her. “Laziness, another flaw we shall overcome soon” she thought to herself.
The maid started her everyday routine. First up was dusting – she retrieved the broom and dustpan from their usual place and started with the master bedroom. A cold bed lay in the centre of four unadorned walls, save for one customary mirror. “Even overnight lodges have more furnishings” the maid thought to herself.
She moved to the daughter’s bedroom, and as always, was stunned by what she was greeted with. The little lady had today taken it upon herself to move her room underwater – every inch of the wall was plastered with chart papers, which had been painted with life-like underwater creatures and glimmering water. Even the faint rays of the sun shining through were visible.
The maid stood there for a few moments, drinking in the masterpiece before her.
“Once again, the little princess blows me away” she smiled to herself, as she got to work. As she cleaned and swept, she noticed other little flourishes. A papier-mache fish she could have sworn was real, clay sculptures of colourful coral lying on her desk, and a cheery poster in bright blue proclaiming ‘I am a 4-year-old mermaid!”. The maid chucked to herself.
After sweeping out the hall and guest bedroom, she moved to the boy’s bedroom. She had been instructed not to touch anything there except for the floor, after a nasty incident with one of his experiments with non-lethal burglar alarms. She stepped into his room, ignoring the faint smell of burnt wire and motor oil. His room too was full of activity, but filled with little mechanical gears, springs and levers. A single computer lay whirring in one corner, a picture of the family bouncing around on it. A half-built robot occupied the centre of the room.
She was almost done sweeping, when a sudden beep startled her.
“Who goes there?” droned a mechanical voice. It seemed to come from that incomplete robot.
The maid didn’t know how to respond. She quietly left and made a note to inform the little master of this incident. She did not want another unpleasant shock.
After sweeping away the dust, she moved on to washing the floor. During this, she noticed that the two kids and the husband of the house were still not home by their usual afternoon time. She looked towards the madam, who was immersed in her computer, and asked “Where is everyone else?” “Eating ice-cream” was the distracted reply she received in return.
The maid moved on to washing the dishes. As she got into the flow of the job, she let her mind wander again. Her thoughts went back to the little girl’s room. She was four years old! And she single-handedly created that underwater masterpiece! Not to mention the boy’s robots and gadgets, when he was barely touching seven.
But then again, the parents had paid a terrible price for their little angels. One of the most powerful couples of the nation had been reduced to a four-BHK in some non-distinct suburb. They had been cheated, true, but it was their fault for playing with the devil.
“The devil is what it should be called”, she thought, as she started to clean the dishes with soap. It is unnatural, what those scientists do, tampering with those innocent babies in the womb. Why can’t they let the child grow up to be what they want to be? She felt a sudden stab of pride for her son’s efforts, and sent up a small prayer for his safety.
But then her thoughts went back to that little girl’s room. The sheer genius of it now scared her. When she was creating such masterpieces at age four, what wonders might she create when she comes of age? What technological wonder might that boy wrought? She felt utterly helpless before their sheer aptitude.
The feeling of helplessness was too strong, and she put down the vessel she was cleaning and just stood there, listening to the sound of the running tap. Just then, the doorbell rang.
“Hello mother!”, a cheerful voice exclaimed. “We got you your favourite, blueberry!” “Thank you so much dear!” she replied, kissing her daughter on the cheek. “How was the trip?” she asked her husband.
“Uneventful” came the curt reply. Father and son both left without a word for their rooms, while the lady went back to her laptop, her face looking a little more worn.
“Auntie, this is for you” came a small voice from behind. The maid spun around.
A little girl stood with her arm outstretched, carrying a vanilla ice-cream. “You mentioned last month that you liked vanilla”.
The maid accepted the ice-cream with a silent smile.
“I know washing dishes must be boring, so I’ve told my brother to build a robot which can wash dishes for you, so you won’t have to get your hands all wrinkly anymore!” she said cheerfully, and skipped off.
The maid chuckled to herself. Perhaps there was hope for the world yet.