I Am Not Allowed To Raise My Voice Because I Belong To The 'Service Class'

Brinda Brinda in Culture Shock on 31 August, 2017

I belong to the category of ‘service class people’. And until a few years back, it did not make any difference in my life.

We landed up in this beautiful city known for its pleasant weather. We were allotted an extremely spacious flat with a huge adjoining terrace as living quarters. Ah! Yes, most people would think that we are very lucky to have such beautiful ‘perks’.

What most people rarely realize is that we often end up paying an extremely heavy price to earn these perks.

That however is not the point that I want to make right now. This flat was in a posh locality and that is when I realized that ‘service class people’ like us did not really belong there.

One day, a lady simply breezed into our house and went straight to the bathroom. Apparently the water from our bathroom was seeping into her kitchen ceiling. This lady was cooler than a cucumber. She looked up abstractly into the air and said that we would have to get it repaired – pronto. The water was seeping from our house, so it was our problem. Or so she thought.

I was ‘asked’ to get it done with the help of the society office. I did so and then ‘enlightened’ her about the fact that the cost would have to be borne equally by both parties and we would have to find a person to get it repaired – not the society!

The problem was resolved and when it was time to pay up, she walked in with a senior person who was the secretary of the society. She coolly ‘asked’ us to send the entire bill to our organization so that she could save herself a pretty penny. This highly educated lady was also highly intelligent. She belonged to the affluent class and went veggie shopping in one of her two cars.


Well, I didn’t care if she went veggie shopping in a helicopter. I was zapped to realize that a simple value like integrity seemed to be so elusive to her. I wanted to tell her how goddamn hard my spouse worked to get these ‘perks’. I wanted to tell her how though we were eligible for such ‘perks’ we never misused them to our advantage.

I wanted to tell her a lot of hard-hitting truths but I knew I was wasting my time. These were not people who would ever understand the finer nuances of ‘service class people’ like us.

So I just kept quiet.

Along with the monsoons came a bounty of problems. Much to our horror, our entire flat was infested with furry caterpillars. Someone had dumped all their junk and over a dozen broken flower pots on the common terrace. The caterpillars were breeding rapidly from this terrace cum junkyard.

I stood in the pouring rain and got pest control done for the entire building, not once but three times! I cried my soul out and was horrified by the carelessness of such educated rich people. That’s when a doctor couple rang the door bell of our house. After creating a racquet outside our house, they walked out with a thousand bucks in their hand. All because I had discarded their infested ‘junk’ without taking their ‘permission’ you see!

It was alright for simple ‘dehatis’ – let me amend that – dumb village bumpkins like me who belonged to the ‘service class’ to get rashes all over the body due to these caterpillars.

Who were we to ‘teach’ such elite doctors some civic sense? These highly educated doctors were in all probability so intelligent that they got a double promotion in their schools and medical colleges. So in all probability, they missed out on studying simple things like ‘keeping our surroundings clean’ and ‘prevention is better than cure’. These folks, the crème de la crème of our society, were all house owners who had to deal with pesky middle class dumbos like us.

They created the rules of the society and bent them and twisted them out of shape when it was convenient for them to do so.

They would also use a rulebook and point out a bloody clause in it when it suited them. In their rulebooks, it was okay for them to drink and laugh like silly possessed women way past midnight. But it was not okay for a foreigner student to feel so homesick that he could cry his heart out to his parents while talking to them in his balcony. How dare he disturb the elite when they are getting their quota of beauty sleep? So they will go to their homes and threaten to oust them if they continue with their behavior.

Another voice is silenced.

Then they will never have a couple of thousands in loose change. So they will summarily dismiss the middle aged widow who delivers their daily supply of milk and a crisp newspaper to their doorstep. She can always come back later for the money. She too belongs to the ‘service class’ you see.


She has nothing better to do at home other than twiddle her thumbs because she is so idle that she wakes up 4 a.m. every day. So what is the bloody big deal if she has to make three trips to get what is rightfully due to her?

And then there are those ordinary ‘service class’ people like plumbers and electricians who will turn up at 10 in the night on a Sunday to repair the fault in your motor. He will work in the pouring rain, in the dark with some Good Samaritan who holds an umbrella over his head while he does his work.

These plumbers and electricians don’t have a fancy air-conditioned office. They are not aware of concepts like ‘working hours’ because they belong to the ‘service class’ and cannot afford such luxuries.

They need to survive so they will work well beyond office hours and even on Sundays to earn their bread and butter and all those ‘perks’ too.

Just 2 big bright pink notes with the number 2000 written on it will silence them too. Of course I am angry! Of course it still hurts even if all of this happened well over 2 years ago.

You may be extremely affluent, dear people, but I still don’t think that makes you better human beings.

We, the ‘service class’ people are far far richer than you – because we know the meaning of values like sacrifice, compromise, integrity, social welfare and selfless service. Ask all those soldiers who guard our borders. Ask that strapping young boy called Kamal, who irons clothes for a living. Ask that humble farmer who toils day and night so that we can all sustain ourselves.

Often these ‘service class’ people get to visit their families for only about a fortnight once in a year. Often army men and bankers are not even able to live with their families for several years. We have never complained about our lot to you. We are quiet workers – all of us.

And it is perfectly fine if you do not understand us or respect the kind of work we do. At least don’t look down upon us with such disdain and contempt!
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