Dream of the Evil Servant
By Reetika Vazirani
New Delhi, 1967
We kept war in the kitchen.
A set of ten bone china plates, now eight.
As if a perfumed guest stole her riches . . .
The next day she wanted to leave at noon.
I said, be back by four, I'm paying you.
She sat by the door,
she put out her hand,
her knuckles knocked against mine,
hard deliberate knuckles. I gave her cash.
Off to watch movies, off to smoke ganja.
She came back late and high as if my fear asked for it.
I called her junglee.
Everything went off late --
dinner, the children getting into bed;
but the guests understood:
they had servants too.
She stuck diaper pins in my children.
I cursed her openly. Who shouted?
Or I cursed her silently and went my way.
She stole bangles my husband's mother bought,
bangles a hundred years old. But she wore frayed jewelry
hawked on the street. She was like a rock that nicked
furniture in corners you'd think only a rat could go.
Why didn't I dismiss her?
I don't know.
She got old as I got old.
I could see her sharp shoulder bones
tighten, her knuckled skull.
I had to look at her. It had to wound me.
Listen, said my mother. Yes mother, I listened, crouched in my head.
Looking over the flowered verandah she said:
Who are you to think you are beautiful?
What have you got to show?
Go sit on your rag.
All my life I tended to looks,
they betrayed me. I bore you.
I am wretched. Be my mother. Be my maid.
My morning was lost to some editing and some unexciting chores. I discovered that The Lovely Bones was no longer On Demand and the rest of the family wanted to see Invictus with me, and settled on watching Valkyrie. I figured that, with a supporting cast as extraordinary as that movie's -- Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp, Eddie Izzard, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Hollander, Chris Larkin, Bernard Hill, the list goes son and on -- not even Tom Cruise could ruin the movie for me. And he didn't. The problem was the screenplay, which never made me care about any of these Germans who were doing too little too late to save their country from a pounding; von Stauffenberg gave lip service at the start to being horrified by the Holocaust, but most of the time he seemed more interested in protecting his family from the impending Allied destruction of Berlin. I don't know a lot about the historical events of the film beyond the assassination attempt on Hitler, but I had heard that von Stauffenberg was a devout Catholic as well as an aristocrat; we get no sense of that here, no religious feeling compounding his horror at senseless slaughter. It's a wooden script and wooden direction -- lots of close-ups on the case with the bomb, lots of predictable gasping -- Cruise's wooden acting isn't the problem.
It didn't take me the full length of the film to fold the laundry, so I got out the beads I bought with gblvr yesterday and several pairs of old earrings that I'd stopped wearing because they were pretty much just charms dangling from French hooks, even though they're all charms I love (peace signs, Celtic knots, the Chalice Well cover). I'm better at taking earrings apart than I am at putting them back together -- I don't understand how people twist the loops in the direction they need them to go when the top loop must be perfectly perpendicular to the bottom loop to face the right direction on the earring hook -- but I am getting better at twisting the loops, at least. I keep discovering that a lot of jewelry that was sold to me as sterling silver is not -- there's no way to keep tarnish off permanently, is there? -- so I need to get a polishing cloth that can fix up the Chalice Wells and knots without taking off the finish that makes the designs stand out. Anyway, here are some photos, and I promise this is the last time!
Once again I have nothing profound to say about Glee...snickered through "Livin' on a Prayer" (though why does it always have to be Rachel), loved the Artie-Puck duet, loved loved loved "Teenage Dream" (shut up I even sing along to "California Gurls" and you can unfriend me if you just lost all respect for me, for which I would not blame you), mostly appreciated the very predictable Kurt storyline, thought Will should be shot for telling Shannon so bluntly what was up with the students (and then he blamed the students for THEIR insensitivity). Afterward Adam noticed Ultimate Hippo on the National Geographic channel, which we started watching till he remembered that he had homework to finish, so we agreed to watch it together later and Paul put on To the Edge of the Universe instead. Black holes!