Among the many things the Brits left behind is a litany of curious terms and phrases. The ones to top my RankleList - "Yours Obediently" (yup, look up Wren & Martin), "Gripe Water" and ..."Privileged Leave". I suppose most of their origins could be worked out. What's been a little puzzling for me has been the last one. Try as I might, no leads. Till last Sunday.
The watchman knocks, and informs me, "Mangala( our maid) ne khabar diya.. aaj woh nahi aayegi. Parson se zaroor aayegi." Noticing me turn sullen he added, helpfully, "Unki beti guzar gayi, kal raat".
And true enough Mangala was at work Wednesday morning, 8 am (half hour late). No melodrama. No tears. Just rang the bell, walked-in and quietly resumed her routine.
Mangala is what you would call fashionably, a Single Working Mom.
4 kids. Alcoholic/missing/abusive/all-of-the-above husband. Father - cancer, at her home. A year ago, her 8 year old (and brightest) daughter is also diagnosed with cancer. For a whole year she has taken her for chemo. She couldn't afford chemo for her father and daughter. She, stoically, chose daughter. Never once did she discuss her plight or hint at an "advance". Never once did she skip work for this reason. Until it was all over. And until she took 3 days off from work.
I think I now know what Privileged Leave means. Privileged to give her Leave.