My parents have just moved from Dubai to India. After a life of 30 years in the sunny, sky-scraper littered city, they have chosen to return to settle down in Bangalore. The past month has been extremely difficult- packing and winding up. Let’s face it, no matter how much you tell yourself ‘This is not your home and you have to leave one day’, it can still tear you apart when it’s time to say Good-bye. Especially when it’s the place you’ve raised your children in.

It’s been three days since they’ve moved. My sister and myself came along with them to help them settle. I had a mental list of all the possible challenges they would have to face- getting our dog Poncho adjusted to such a big change, transportation in the city without a vehicle, possible boredom, nosy family members etc. Never ever ever did I imagine that the first crisis to pop up would be our beloved 50-something year old cleaning lady- Lakshmi.

Here’s the situation. My grandmother has been living in our home in Bangalore and been commandeering Lakshmi. She has a tendency to..how do we put this politely… poke people when they’re doing their jobs. Not having much of a choice, Lakshmi has been tolerating the interruptions and chiding and occasionally voicing her discontentment at the jobs being given.

Now the story changes. My parents are here. Hence enters my mother. Which means she takes over the domestic role of the home. She has her own way of getting things done.So what does smart Lakshmi do? What does anyone do when they see power shifting? They play politics.

I have been loving observing the drama because it’s a wonderful opportunity to see how even someone who cleans toilets and mops floors for a living, understands how to play the game. Lakshmi started with finishing her tasks and telling only my mother when she was leaving. This was the first lash at antagonizing my grand-mother. Then she escalated it to the next level- verbal outbursts and complaints to my mother. My mother got put in a situation where she had to tell my grand-mother to stop arguing with her as there was no use. They didn’t know any other cleaners and needed Lakshmi now. Having just shifted there was a tremendous amount of work to be done and she couldn’t afford to lose her and struggle by herself. So my grand-mother declares that she will not interfere anymore in the household work. My mother is left stuck in between a cleaning lady and her mother-in-law. My grand-mother is left with a bruised ego at being reduced to where she has to hear verbal abuses from someone she had secretly enjoyed torturing over the past years. And Lakshmi leaves home with the empty plastic bottles she collects from us – a diabolical genius.

The biggest victim is – my poor father.

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