Janaki maami was nervous. New neighbours are unpredictable. But it excited her a little nevertheless. There was a whole new household to gossip about. And a whole household to educate. What time the water flow was weak, which uncle in the building was to be avoided and which vegetable vendor was a scoundrel. Maama carefully lowers the newspaper and decides to tell her what little he knows in the hope that it will calm her down. “Apparently the lady works.”. Working women are good fodder for hot evenings. “She is some therapist – physiotherapist or something.”.
The couple is young. No children. Janaki maami couldn’t spot the telltale bump on the woman’s belly. She wonders why they’re moving into a two bedroom flat. Maybe they were trying. She tells Maama that it’s the bad diet these days that has ruined the reproductive system of the entire community. He nods. For two days, Janaki maami exercises her peripheral vision. When they look suitably settled, she decides to introduce herself. The time has to be right. Working couples are generally irritable in the evenings. She thinks maybe that’s why they have trouble conceiving. Sundays are dangerous. She thinks Friday evening is a good time. It’s a working day, but the thought of a weekend cheers up most people. Unless of course they don’t get along. Maybe that’s why they don’t have a child.
The woman next door welcomes her. A tumbler of hot coffee makes its way into Janaki maami’s hands. Grudgingly, she admits to herself that the coffee is almost as good as the one she makes. She decides to like this new woman. After all, physiotherapists are very useful. She was thinking of consulting one for her joint aches. Maybe this one will give her free tips. In which case, Janaki maami will ensure that small portions of fried wonders are sent over every weekend. With all the shrewdness she can muster she mutters about how anxious she is about her aching joints. The physiotherapist says that stress should not be ignored. Janaki maami nods aggressively, telling her how the stress of it all makes her rather sleepless. For some reason, the new woman begins to enquire about her mother’s menopause, her father’s anger and her husband’s willingness to help. Janaki maami squirms. The new woman hands her a business card and says she is always willing to take on new patients.
Janaki maami hurries back home and tells maama that the physiotherapist doesn’t know her joints from her aches, and is probably not going to do well at her job. Maama nods. Maami says “Maybe she isn’t earning well enough, and that’s why they don’t want a child yet.”. She is disappointed, but is willing to look at the bright side of things, “At least they don’t look like people who eat eggs.”.
He inspects the card. Kamakshi Ramachandran. Psychotherapist. He doesn’t have the heart to tell maami that she may have made a fool of herself. Besides, the maami is somewhat a psycho anyway.