the song of sparrows
Most Sundays allow me the liberty to stay late in bed. Most Sundays I wake up to the screechy voice of the maid, dishing out gossip to an impassive audience. My sis and I fondly refer to her as ‘the sparrow’. My maid is a smart woman and like everybody, she has a story.
Leave her drunken waste of a husband and come to the city, she did. She lives with her folks now and provides for her 12-year-old daughter, besides dealing with stigma that is ruthlessly attached to her. Does backbreaking work so she can give her child a decent education. Very admirable stuff.
She could have been a woman of supreme substance if she had stuck it completely in society’s face though. But the sparrow chooses to practice her own discrimination. In hushed tones, she calls my neighbours an inferior lot since “they belong to a lower caste”. Much of the respect hitherto garnered comes crashing down.
This caste-crossing-into-class war makes a convoluted and, for me, a disturbingly remarkable picture. As is ritual, my stream of grimy consciousness flows and I try to derive sense from it.
Perhaps for those that suffer at the hands of disdainful people, the simplest way to get back is to join in disdaining another. Like when we play down our problems by pointing out that people in Africa are in more troubled waters. Or like the brown man calling the black man dark. Caste won’t buy anyone a nice house in a good neighbourhood. And even when you work your way into that neighbourhood, class won’t fully defeat the communal judgment one is destined to face.
We all find a comfortable brand of bias to live under. The sparrow will chirp. And maybe it’s justified because an owl probably hooted at her.