People I Know: Chotu
This is Chotu (with my parents). Or rather, this is Anupham Anupam Mahato – whom we refer to as “Chotu” which means small, and standing at under 5′ he certainly is. He’s also the youngest in his family, which consists of his Mother and 2 brothers. Chotu has been working for our family for many years and has developed a wide range of skills. Cooking, cleaning, fixing random things around the house, and is even a very capable substitute nanny when needed. Since we moved here, Chotu has been one of our only mainstays – leaving us briefly to battle malaria. We’ve become accustomed to his moodiness and his food, and often rely on him to watch over our son – who has become very fond of him.
Born in Bihar in a village west of Patna, Chotu originally worked for our family there before shifting to Kolkata. He is often sharply dressed – especially when he’s sneaking out to the park or the mall – and is usually very reliable. I say “usually” because sometimes he forgets things. I may ask him for tea and he’ll go back to the kitchen and never return. He’s also quite clumsy – though this is mostly due to the speed with which he works. He has broken several items in our house while cleaning. One day, after breaking a glass clock, my wife told him, “You’re breaking something every week.” Chotu replied, “No, I break something every other week.” Probably a more accurate assessment and also displayed his somewhat rye sense of humor.
Chotu’s father died several years ago and has left the family strapped with major debt. In all likelihood, this debt is being falsely leveraged by a lending body, however, Chotu’s pride – larger than his name – will not allow him to seek assistance in this. It does however drive him to work very hard.
He is also a very superstitious boy. Just yesterday he refused to kill a rat that is in our house, because he’s been told that if he does, he will not be able to cook well any longer. He said this, and we laughed – he did too – but I’m sure he believes this thoroughly.
We’ve spent most of our time here in India trying to replace Chotu, so he can move on to other work and responsibilities. Ideally he’d be working in our office – running errands and going to job sites – but this has yet to materialize. In the last month we are just now finding those people to replace his daily routine – he still makes the best tea – and hopefully soon we can “promote” him. I’m sure he’ll still stop and play with my son and from time to time I’ll force him to make me some tea, but it’s time for Chotu to build a new set of skills.