In the last week of my stay here, Mukhtar has been re-assigned to the first floor. So now my friends Nam and Fake Nagraj have elephants and dogs in their rooms, but I don’t.

I would not have minded so much if our parting had been a little more pleasant. But sometimes my naiveté has other results than I expect.

I passed on an amount of money for Diwali, to Mukhtar to distribute amongst the 5 house boys who clean our rooms. It was not a big amount. I also made sure that the money was given to him in the presence of another boy so that he would distribute the money evenly.

For a week after that, I got strange stares from the boys when I crossed their paths. Mukhtar too looked at me with even more soulful eyes than he usually does.

One morning, a boy came knocking on my door, saying he wanted to talk to me. I was not dressed properly, I asked him to come back later, he never did.

A couple of days later, Mukhar came to the door and said he wanted to talk to me. “How much money did you give me, Madam?”, he asked.

“A 1000 rupees”, I said, confused.

“But my supervisor thinks you have given me more, and he shouted at me.”

I saw a supervisor lurking behind him.

“Is he the one?”, I asked.

“No”, he said, “another one.”

I called the supervisor and told him, “Tell whoever is shouting at him, that I have given him only 1000 rupees. I don’t want any confusion about that. He has not pocketed any money.”

Mukhtar left but his scared face and wet eyes showed that he was not reassured.

Later when I asked a boy to call Mukhtar to clean my room, he said sheepishly, “Madam, he is working on the first floor.”

The next day, the same boy gathered the courage to tell me, “Madam, the money you gave us got us into a lot of trouble. Our HOD abused us, shouted at us, called us ‘chors’ and ‘criminals’. He insisted that you had given us 5000 rupees. We are all going to quit, Madam, once you leave. He said many things he should not have said.”

I created a scene, I made a written complaint, I think I got the HOD fired.

But Mukhtar continues to make his animals elsewhere.

One day before all this happened, he made Dhanno and me this elephant to say ‘Sorry’. He had entered the room with a master key while Dhanno was still there.

Today, I give this elephant back to him, to say ‘Sorry’.

I should have trusted him and given him the money without anyone knowing about it. And left it to him to distribute it or not.