THE MOTHER

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What do you do with all these newspaper? There was no need for me to put that question to her. For, I knew that she was using them for making paper bags. Every morning , she would come up and ask my wife for she previous day’s papers. In those days, I used to subscribe to four. My wife would pass them on to her.
She was our landlord’s mother. We were living on the first floor. She was living with her son, daughter-in-law and their children downstairs. There were two staircases connecting the two floors – one on the front for the rest of us and the other at the back for the maid. I had a spaniel bitch named Ruby. She knew so was the maid. But none else would she allow to come up to the first floor through the back staircases.
Ruby’s relations with the landlord were particularly strained. The fellow was all the time pressing me for increasing rent. When he would argue with me too much, ruby would start barking at him. In relation, he would tamper with the supply of water to us. There were quarrels on that score. Ruby knew that, Early morning, as she would see the landlord from the balcony down below, she would bark at him without any provocation. The landlord would shout at her. The more he shouted, the more ruby barked. Finnaly, things come to such a pass that the landlord gave me a notice asking me to either get rid of ruby or to leave his house. That, however, is another story.
While ruby did not like the landlord, she was on the best of terms with his mother. Loveable lady, shock-absorber as most mothers are, what did she do with the paper bags she made? Sadly, I have to say that she used to sell them to one of the provision stores from where we were buying sundry household goods. She never talked about that. Nor did she talk about the treatment that wasbeing meted out to her.
But we knew it. With her bent back, she would go to the milk-booth to fetch milk for the family. And she would cleanse the family’s utensils, morning and evening. Economical weak, physically harassed, she did not want to become too much of a burden on those who were supposed to support her.

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