I really don’t mind

A few days ago I had gone to check on Leela. She is 85 and lives with a retinue of 8 staff. Her daughter, who lives in another city, was worried that that the staff would be taking advantage of the mother – financially. I brought this concern up with Leela as we spoke. She was aware of the daughters concern but was confident she had a good system in place. She asked the attendant to get the book where the accounts were kept and asked me to have a look. And sure enough detailed accounts were maintained of daily spend. A closer look threw up some oddities – Rs 320/- spend on eggs in one week. That’s 40 eggs I pointed out. She thought about it for a moment and said she would try and be more vigilant. And then she said, “if what Bhola takes from my house ensures that his children eat better, then I really don’t mind.” I was struck by the generosity, the kindness, the sheer grace of the response. I have personally grown up with the counsel that staff will take things from the kitchen, it’s the norm, and that I need to learn to look the other way, unless it gets very unreasonable. I have been taught this is the sensible approach to retain staff. But inherent in it is a sort of suppression, a gritting-your-teeth kind of acceptance. Leela’s compassionate response helped me get a whole new perspective. I called her daughter and shared this discussion with her, and told her not to worry about her mother – “She really doesn’t mind.”