It was September, nearly 8:30 in the morning. My husband was in office and the kids were in school. I was busy with my household work. The door bell rang. I opened the door. It was Mrs. Roy. Her eyes were full of tears. Her face and body language showed that she was in terrible state. I was surprised. “What happened?” I asked her. She held my hand and replied, “Mini, please help me! Please come to my kitchen.” “What could have possibly happened in your kitchen?” I thought. She dragged me with her up to her flat. She stood in front of the kitchen and said, “Go inside.” Now a (seemingly) nasty thought nasty thought came to my mind. I just hoped at that moment that I wouldn’t find a lizard. That reptile petrifies me, freezing my blood in a way that would fail the best refrigerator at that time. That’s right. I have a phobia of Lizards.
I asked her gently, “Is it a Lizard?” She wiped her eyes and replied, “No, I don’t care about lizards. It’s something even more dangerous.” Now I felt better. Except lizards, I’m not afraid of any living or dead thing in this world. I went inside the kitchen but I saw nothing scary. She said while still standing outside the kitchen that there was a worm in the vegetable basket. Ah ha! That was it.
I took a newspaper, picked up the worm and threw it out of the window. With a victorious smile I came out of the kitchen and patted her shoulders. “Relax dear. It’s OK. The worm in now gone for good.” She thanked me, and offered me a cup of tea. But I refused as I had a lot of work to do. I came back to my flat.
About 15 minutes later, the door bell rand again. This time it was Mrs. Sharma with her eyes full of tears. Her body language was as bad as Mrs. Roy’s. “This is too much.” she said. “I can’t bear it anymore now.” I called her in and offered her a seat. When she settled down a bit, I asked her. “What happened? What’s wrong with you?” She wiped out all the tears from her face and said, “You know, Mrs. Roy always keeps throwing away things on my flat. Her baby daughter always throws her toys, paper, cloth clips, and what not. I always collect the things and give her back. I’m telling you all this because she is your good friend and she may understand you better than me.” She took a deep breath and then resumed. “Today, I will never forgive her for what she did to me. You know, she threw a vegetable worm from her kitchen window. I was outside cleaning my kitchen window and the worm dropped right on my head. I can bear anything, but not worms. You know that worms scare me to death.”
I gulped down a big knot that had formed in my throat. I said “Sorry” out of reflex. Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I did say it. “But why are you apologizing?” she asked me with a confused look on her face.