It all started on a very noisy evening dusherra day, way back on 20th October 1988, when I was admitted to the hospital for the impending birth of my twins.
I was still one month early, but since I was expecting twins, I was pre-warned of a premature delivery.
More bad news followed. My twins were in transverse and breeched position, so more complication was expected and I was to hence recommended a 'C' section.
My gynecologist forced me to stay in the hospital 'against my wishes', as I was in a terrible state with a huge protruding stomach. The doctor wanted me to be under close observation.
I had a restless night and was more than happy, when I was woken up very gently by a nurse. She came to give me a cup of hot tea, she gave me a very broad smile, the fist thing noticed about her was her perfect pearly white teeth, a big vermillion red bindi shone on her forehead and she was dressed in the typical maharastrian attire with a perfectly matching blouse.
At that moment she looked divine. I am 'Sushma', just press the bell if you need me anytime, she said.
Thereafter, 'Sushma' did all my chores, bathed me, told me not to be afraid of the upcoming child birth, how to raise kids etc etc.
Soon we bonded very well. She told me about her husband, her son, daughter and all the trivialities of a typical middle class family.
'Sushma' was always jovial, did all sorts of jobs and made the best tea there. I was literally addicted to her for company and looked forward to her every morning visits when she came to clean my room and have small talk with me.
Then D' day arrived and 'Sushma' was around me soothing my nerves. Post delivery, she really took special care of me and my twin babies.
I spend about fifteen days in the hospital. Soon after, when the time came to leave, 'Sushma' was visibly sad. Her eyes were moist. I pressed an envelope in her hand which she profusely refused. I managed to convince her to take it for Ganpat and Asha, her children, who were the apple of her eyes.
My next visit to the hospital was after three years. I took my twin boys along. 'Sushma' was thrilled to see us and was amazed to see the boys grown up. She spent some good time with the boys, bringing them some chocolates and biscuits.
When my boys were eighteen, I decided to take them again to the hospital to meet 'Sushma' as she was always on my mind since my boys were born. They too had a deep liking for her.
Sadly, the hospital has since closed down and no one there knew about the whereabouts of 'Sushma'. Hope and pray she is doing fine wherever she is.
Coming back to my boys, when they were about four months old, I was finding it very difficult to manage them, especially when I had to go away from home.
That's when the second 'Sushma' came into my life.
This 'Sushma' was a ten year old happy child who went to school in the morning and did odd jobs in the evening to make some pocket money (those days there was no child labour laws).
'Sushma' was very prominent with her big bright eyes. I taught 'Sushma' to help me dress up the babies. She would assist me to take care of one twin during my daily walks. 'Sushma' was very selective and took an incredible liking for Alok, my elder twin. She adored him and was mesmerized by him.
Ankush my second twin was neglected by her. Her affection and love was exclusively for Alok. She dressed him with a lot of pomp and affection while neglecting Ankush openly. I was there for Ankush so the matter was not much of an issue.
I used to sit with 'Sushma' and ask her about her deep liking for Alok. She would reply by saying Alok was a very understanding and a beautiful baby. When I would enquire about Ankush she would say he too is a beautiful baby but not as much when compared with Alok.
Many superlatives about Alok could be heard. Alok was much fairer, had dimples, would laugh more etc etc. In reality my boys were identical twins and even we as parents, many a times were finding it difficult to identify.
'Sushma' was also very possessive. She would never allow anyone to touch him. He was her property. At times I was over whelmed by her behavior.
Soon, it was time for me to take the babies and go to Bahrain, where I had to join my husband. I gave 'Sushma' a nice gift and left.
Later I heard, 'Sushma' lost her father and one fine day she just vanished. I was told she moved to her native village. 'Sushma' must have grown up and may be married by now. She may have a family of her own. I won't be surprised if she names her son 'Alok'.
My mother's current maid is the third 'Sushma'. There is no maid I have met in my life as serene and calm as this 'Sushma'. She takes her job very seriously and goes about doing the household chores without any supervision.
Didi, are you not well? Can I make you a cup of tea? She literally pampers me when I am in Mumbai visiting my mother. Her gentle voice itself makes any stress vanish. She is a part of my family in Mumbai and is always concerned about me, my children and my husband.
She herself refuses any gift that I specifically take for her, yet, does not forget to get me 'puran polis' my favorite sweet rolls, made by her accomplished mom.
'Sushma' takes good care of my mom, runs every errand for her with an ever shiny smile on her face. She is a total help for me while shopping during my brief visit to the city.
One thing which I look forward to when I reach my mom's place in Mumbai is her lovely hot cup of tea. 'Sushma' indeed is an expert.
I have very special regards for 'Sushma' as she takes excellent care of my mom, who stays alone. This in itself is a solace to me.
My experience with all the 'Sushma's' I have met has been excellent. It goes without saying that I strongly recommend this name for any girl child. The name in itself means a lot of love for others while neglecting ones own self.
'Sushma' thy name is selflessness.
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