RDS LISTEN AND REACT-1557149472055
Portrait of curly-haired woman in striped shirt isolated on orange background trying hard to secretly listen to conversation hand to ear interested at gossip she hears privacy violation concept. Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

What you need to know:

  • The reader narrates an incident that taught her a valuable lesson. 

My relationship with my house helpers, the cook and the cleaner, is beyond professional. They are like family to me. We take time out to hear each other’s life stories.

It was a Wednesday morning when my husband informed me that our cleaner, Reshma had not yet arrived. I looked at the clock and it was 10.25am. My heart skipped a beat as Reshma would usually come in at sharp 8.30am every day. I had actually learnt the art of being punctual from her. In our early days of association, I used to be amazed at how she would come to work right on time. I know it’s one of her best virtues.

I was upset with her because we had an agreement where we would inform each other if there was going to be a delay from her end, or a change in routine from mine. And that day, I hadn’t heard from her.

My husband and I wondered what could have happened, but eventually got busy doing our daily chores.

Next morning anxious to see Reshma I woke up early. She walked in at sharp 8:30 am. I was both relieved and annoyed at the same time. I told her I was unhappy with her unprofessional behaviour and told her that disappearing from work on a weekday without informing me was unacceptable. I kept ranting on, without noticing her dull face and sunken eyes.

When I was finished, Reshma looked at me and said: “I lost my Baba (father) yesterday”.

I didn’t know what to say. Nothing came out except for a genuine ‘sorry’. I offered her a hug to comfort her. That was the day I realised the difference between listening and hearing. Two week ago, if I had listened to Reshma informing me of her father’s poor health, this situation wouldn’t have occurred. I would have been more thoughtful and humane with my approach. I learnt an important lesson that day.

- The reader is a writer based in Dubai.