Postcard to Gaya: The killer heatwave revives memories of our faithful, much-loved Saifuddin
The article at hand is an in-memoriam tribute to the author’s family’s male domestic help, Saifu, short for ‘Saifuddin’. He had been with the family for years and across the needs of generations, ingraining himself firmly into the hearts and cognitive spaces of the author, her children, and also, presumably, her parents. His memories came as deluge when the author read news of heat-related deaths in rural Bihar, because he used to hail from the interiors of that state. And that is why she sat down to pen this article. He had, when the author was a child, tended to her domestic needs. And when she moved to Mumbai as adult, he had to follow her to help with the chores there, and look after her children. The author notes that he had a very calming effect on people in general and children in particular, and always knew how to make a volatile situation stable. He also came in handy for a variety of other functions, notably the provision of colloquial adages to the author. The author and her family finally had to let go of him and his services when he was very, very old, and he was restored to the life and people of his own who he had barely known all his life. The article ends on a sad note with the author informing readers of his death soon after his ‘retirement’.
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Words to learn from this article:
Mothballed: protected with insecticide or repellent chunks of material to ward off moths, mainly from clothes in cupboards.
Dormant: temporarily not at the peak of activity.
Scoff: display contempt or disdain, sometimes coupled with mocking.
Talisman: a protective charm, a totem.
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