04 Sep 2017
7 min read
From her hard life, Saili didi has distilled zingers of wisdom
And working at a house where she has been more of a caretaker than a helper. For the last 35 years, Saili didi has taken care of everything in and around the house. Today, not just a member of the family but the de facto matriarch of the place, she bosses everyone around, from the gardener to the family members. Not only does she send them shopping, it’s only she who can decide what items get included on the grocery lists.
She started working with the family as a babysitter for the couple’s daughter. And this despite her reputation for her tough-love approach to bringing up her wards. “I don’t like children,” says Saili didi. “And I can’t understand why anyone does.” Even so, Saili didi has raised many kids over the years, to whom she eventually becomes a mother. But Saili didi doesn’t have any kids of her own. “My relatives used to tell me I wouldn’t be able to have kids because I was always too strict with the ones entrusted to me,” she says. “But I have never regretted not having children.”
The only regret in Saili didi’s life is not taking more photos of her mother, whom she lost to leukemia. “We did take photos of her at a studio in New Road,” she says. “But the studio moved to Biratnagar. My brother did track it down but came up empty.” Her mother’s memories are being pushed deeper into the far recesses her mind, and she does sometimes worry that she might forget her mother’s face.
“I lost everything a long time ago, and that taught me to find better reasons to go on living"
Even the earthquakes couldn't dampen this spirit of hers. The quakes demolished the house in which she rented a flat, in Naxal. “I was more than 55 kilos before the earthquake, but I am 45 kilos now,” she says. “Everyone tells me this is because I constantly brood over my lost possessions, but I know that’s not true.” Saili didi is no stranger to loss. “I lost everything a long time ago, and that taught me to find better reasons to go on living.” Saili didi’s reason for living now seems to be to make people laugh with her insights. To sort of awaken them. Making people laugh and sharing her philosophy of life with them is also Saili didi’s way of freeing her soul of any sins. “People don’t seem to be bothered about their soul these days,” she says, firing off yet another zinger. “I keep telling them that if they don’t change their ways, they are going to be reborn as pebbles, stones, and rocks.”