Maid to ServebyLucky Mann©
For the second consecutive growing season, the monsoons had failed to arrive over the Indian rice paddies. Without the heavy annual rainfall, the Nalwali family had been unable to produce their customarily bountiful crop of top quality rice.
It was the proceeds from the rice crop that allowed the Nalwali family to not only survive but to provide the resources to keep the land they farmed. For generations, the Nalwali family had produced some of the most successful rice crops in their region. They were a poor hard working farm family and the second year of drought had added to their desperate situation.
This year, like the last, was going to be a disaster for all the local rice farmers, including the Nalwali family. Without the normal rains that flooded the rice paddies, production was going to be barely above that which was needed to feed the family and hold a bit in reserve for next season's planting.
In the more bountiful years, Mr. Nalwali had sold nearly his entire crop to Mr. John Price. Mr. Price was aptly named. He was the Vice-President for purchasing for a major American food manufacturer based in Chicago. He was tasked with obtaining the raw materials from which his company made their food products. His position required him to travel all over the globe representing his company to the farmers in their fields.
Mr. Price was in his mid forties and had been with his employer ever since his college graduation. In the past twenty years, he had used modern technology and personal contacts to fill his employer's needs with the best raw materials available from around the world. He had always worked hard to get his employer the best commodities at a fair price. Therefore, his Board of Directors had given him a free hand in negotiating for the commodities from the producers.
Mr. Price's employer preferred purchasing their raw materials directly from the producers rather than on the open commodities market. Buying through a broker at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange would have been much easier and somewhat cheaper for them. However, the company executives believed they could get a superior product at a more economical price by going directly to the producers. They would have little control over the price and quality of the products they needed if they bought on the open market.
In spite of being in his forties, Mr. Price was in excellent shape. He worked out regularly, and weighed just slightly more than he did while in college. Dealing with farmers in their fields around the world had kept him trim and well tanned. His deep blue eyes were as sharp as ever.
Mr. Price had always negotiated firmly but fairly with the producers with which he dealt. He was no happier about Mr. Nalwali's drought induced situation than the farmer and his family. Although he had been forewarned of the drought like conditions through satellite recognizance and local harvest projections. He was nonetheless disturbed by the severity of the problem. The entire region had suffered from the lack of rain. The rice that had been produced this year was of poor quality and very low quantity.
With their heads deeply bowed, Mr. Nalwali and his family met with Mr. Price. Mr. Nalwali apologized repeatedly for the failure of his crop and inability to satisfy Mr. Price's needs.
"Please Sir, forgive me. It is my fault. I should have planned for this. We may loose our land if the rains do not come soon. We may have to sell part of our family's land to cover our debts." The distraught man was beside himself in grief and shame. For the second consecutive year, he had failed to have a good crop to sell to his long time customer. Being a strong man, he didn't want to let Mr. Price, or his family, see his emotions, but they were just below the surface.
Mr. Price was not an uncaring man. He also didn't want to loose a good supplier of some of the finest rice his company used.
"Mr. Nalwali, you have no control over the weather. What could you have done? These things happen. I have a proposition for you. Have you ever heard of the futures market?" Mr. Price asked.
"No, Sir." Mr. Nalwali answered.
Mr. Price continued. "Well, in brief, at the farm level it works like this. I can prepay you for your future rice crops now, and you provide the rice next year."
"You will pay for rice I don't have to sell?" Mr. Nalwali had never heard of such a thing.
"Yes! You don't have any rice now, but I am confident you will have some next season. I have the authority on behalf of my company to make such a deal if you are interested. Of course, as a representative of my company, I must get a good deal on the future rice or they will not allow the futures purchase. Do you understand, Mr. Nalwali?" Price asked.
"I think so, Sir."
"OK, here's my offer. For the next five years, I will buy your entire crop of rice, except for what you need for your personal use and replanting. I will pay for half of next year's crop now. However, I must insist on a five percent discount from the then current price of rice when the crops are harvested. That way my company gets the rice they need at a bargain cost, I provide them with a steady supply of top quality rice, and you and your family can continue to farm your land. You will have the incentive to work hard because the more rice you produce, the more money you make. Do we have an agreement, Mr. Nalwali?"
Mr. Price extended his hand to seal the deal. Mr. Nalwali excitedly took the offered hand and shook Mr. Price's hand vigorously. The deal was done.
Over the years, Mr. Price had found that local farmers around the world were very much alike. Lawyers were seldom needed to make a binding agreement with them. However, his company's lawyers would not accept such a handshake agreement. Therefore, the standard contract would be pulled off Mr. Price's laptop and printer when he returned to his hotel room later that day. He could also get final authorization for the deal at that time as well. He would bring it to Mr. Nalwali the next day to be sighed. Besides, if the weather or Mr. Nalwali failed to produce a crop of rice next year, no further money would be expended, and another supplier could be found at that time. All parties were happy with the deal.
As Mr. Nalwali continued to shake Mr. Price's hand, his mood visibly cheered. "Mr. Price, please sir, allow me to introduce my family."
"Of course! I would enjoy meeting your family. After all the years we've been dealing together, I have never been properly introduced to your lovely family."
Mr. Nalwali pulled a reluctant woman who seemed to be hiding behind him to his side. "Sir, this is my wife, Maina." Maina bowed deeply and quickly stepped back behind her husband. The two oldest children, young men, stood ridged as they bowed and shook Mr. Price's hand. They were introduced as Mantu and Rega. Next, Mr. Nalwali introduced his twin girls. They appeared to be about eight years old. They bowed as their father introduced them. Bitu, a boy, was next. He was probably ten or twelve. He then introduced his youngest daughter. "And this is my little queen, so we call her Rani." Rani stood tall and proudly stuck out her hand. Mr. Price grasped Rani's hand with a wide grin. The older man bowed deeply and shook the young girl's hand. The twins and Rani then giggled and ran from the room.
Laughing and returning to a standing posture, Mr. Price asked. "And whom do we have here, Mr. Nalwali?" Mr. Price indicated a young woman standing behind her mother. "She is a very lovely young lady."
The girl stood with her head bowed as her father introduced her. "This is Naina, Sir." It was evident by the look on his face, Mr. Nalwali was very proud of his entire family, especially Naina.
Even though she was wearing a scarf over her head and was modestly dressed, Mr. Price could see she was very lovely indeed. Her rounded face was surrounded by dark brown hair with light brown highlights. Her brown eyes seemed to sparkle.
With a broad grin, Mr. Price presented his hand to Naina. "Such a beautiful young lady should not be hiding herself. How do you do, Naina?"
Naina nervously raised her head, took Mr. Price's hand and shook it. In almost perfect but accented English, she replied. "I am very well, Sir. Thank you."
The connection between Mr. Price and Naina was immediate and electrifying, especially to Naina. At the touch of their hands, a shiver ran up her arm and spread over her entire body. She knew instantly something had just happened. Just what it was she did not know.
Mr. Price had felt it too. He then smiled broadly at the young lady, and with a glint in his eyes, said to her. "It is indeed a pleasure to meet you, Naina." When Mr. Price released her hand, she bowed her head and again stepped behind her mother and father.
Mr. Price then took his leave from the Nalwali family and returned to his motel in the nearby city. Within an hour of arriving back at his motel, his maid and personal secretary, Abby, had the needed future's purchase authorization from the company's headquarters in Chicago. With the authorization and printed contract in hand, Mr. Price only needed Mr. Nalwali's signature to finalize the deal the next morning.
Mr. Price arose early the next morning. He would be flying home as soon as he concluded his business with Mr. Nalwali. He had Abby pack his things and load them in the car that had just arrived. She also called the airport and had his private jet prepared for the flight home.
The Gulfstream jet had a range of a little under 7000 miles. That long range was one of the deciding factors in his decision to purchase that model over several other fine aircraft. He knew he would be using it to travel all over the world and needed something that wouldn't need to be stopping too often to refuel. He had leased the aircraft to his employer. Through their monthly lease payments they were in effect paying for the it. They also picked up the fuel and maintenance costs as well. In effect, Mr. Price owned the Gulfstream free of costs.
Upon his return to the Nalwali home, he was greeted warmly by Mr. Nalwali. Naina was quietly standing beside and slightly behind her father. Her head was again bowed.
Mr. Nalwali happily signed the contract presented to him by Mr. Price. "The money will be transferred to you as soon as I deliver this contract my company's purchasing department in Chicago.
Again, the farmer then bowed deeply and again expressed his gratitude to Mr. Price for making such a generous bargain. The farmer then startled the worldly commodities buyer. "Mr. Price, Sir, I have no way of ever repaying your kindness to my family. We will not loose our land now. We owe you a great debt."
"You owe me nothing more than a fine crop of rice next year, Mr. Nalwali." Price responded.
"With respect, Sir, we owe you much more than rice. We owe you more than we can ever repay. You seemed to like my daughter Naina when you met her yesterday. Is this not so, Sir?"
"Yes, Mr. Nalwali. Naina seems like a lovely young lady. I am sure you are very proud of her."
"Naina, come here." Her father instructed.
The girl somewhat nervously stepped forward and extended her hand to Mr. Price. Her head remained bowed.
John Price smiled and took Naina's hand intending to shake it as he had done the day before. He felt a slight quiver in her small hand as he gently surrounded it with his own. With a smile he told her. "It's a pleasure to see you again, Naina."
Naina smiled but kept her head bowed as she and Mr. Price shook hands.
Mr. Nalwali firmly surrounded Mr. Price's and his daughter's clasped hands in both of his strong and weathered hands. "Mr. Price, you have saved my families land. You like our Naina. I have only one way to repay our debt to you. Sir, Naina is yours! I make her my gift to you."
A shocked Mr. Price stammered, unable to get his words out. For the first time in his life, John Price was speechless.
Mr. Nalwali continued holding their clasped hands in his.
Stammering, Mr. Price finally replied. "Mr. Nalwali, I can't take your daughter. That isn't done anymore. She is just coming of age and will probably be marrying soon. She probably already has a boyfriend. How can I take her from her friends and family?"
"Sir, it is true that Naina is now eighteen. She is of marrying age and has been for several years now. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to save enough for her dowry. Any mate from a good family would require a substantial dowry before marrying her. I have three other daughters to think about. You will be honoring both Naina and her family by accepting her as my gift to you. Sir, Naina is now yours."
Regaining his composure, John Price spoke in his normally controlled voice. "With your permission Mr. Nalwali, I would like to speak of this to Naina."
Still holding their hands together in his, the older man nodded his approval.
Price's mind was reeling with all the delicious possibilities this situation presented as he addressed the teen. "Ms. Naina, I am soon going to need a lead maid and personal assistant. The girl I have is going to retire soon. Would you be interested in serving me as my maid and personal assistant in my home and perform other duties as I may direct?"
"Oh yes, Sir." Naina answered excitedly. "If that is what my father wants, I will obey his wishes. My father has always done what was best for our family. If my father thinks I should go with you then I will go. I will do my best to be a good servant in your household. I will do whatever you require of me." The girl raised her head slightly and smiled at Mr. Price.
"Have you talked this over with your mother. It may be years before you return home to see them again."
"We have...." Naina began to answer.
Mr. Nalwali interrupted his daughter. "The family agree this is for the best and we will be happy for Naina!" "It will be an honor if you would accept my daughter as a servant in your household? She will work hard for you. Sir, she will make a good maid and do any other tasks you require of her." He then released his grip on Mr. Price's and Naina's hands.
With a few seconds further thought, Mr. Price bowed to Mr. Nalwali and agreed to take Naina with him. "Mr. Nalwali, Naina will make a wonderful addition to my household staff. I am sure she will serve me well."
Mr. Price then stood up straight and addressed the teen. "Very well! Gather your things, Naina. We will be leaving in just a few minutes."
All three of them smiled broadly. Naina almost instantly produce a worn cardboard fruit box. It contained everything the teen owned. After a tearful goodbye with her family, Naina carried the box out to Mr. Price's car. She was followed closely by her new employer.
The car's driver bowed and took Naina's box of belongings. He quickly stowed the box in the car's trunk for her.
Due to the car's darkened windows, Naina hadn't see Abby until the driver opened one of the rear doors. Naina nervously settled into the car's rear seat next to the middle-aged woman.
Mr. Price then introduced the two women. "Naina, this is Abby. Abby is my present maid. She will be training you in your duties as my servant. Unfortunately, she will be leaving me soon. You will be taking her place in all of her duties."
"Abby, this is Naina. She will be my new servant. Please instruct her in all she will need to know concerning her household duties and matters of respect. I will personally conduct any other training she may need." Mr. Price instructed his servant.
With a knowing smile, Abby nodded. "Yes, Sir. It will be my pleasure."
Mr. Price and Mr. Nalwali bid each other well as Price entered the car's front seat. The car then pulled away from the only home Naina had ever known. The car sped on its way to the airport. The adventure that would be Naina's new life had begun.
Since Naina did not have a passport, Mr. Price had his driver pull the car through an unguarded back gate at the airport and drive right up to his plane. The jet's engines were already warming up. In a matter of minutes, their things were loaded into the plane's cargo hold. A few minutes later, they were hurtling down the runway and winging their way skyward.
Mr. Price sat quietly reading crop reports in his private office area. They had been in the air for over an hour and Abby and Naina were still chattering like a pair of teenaged school girls. Naina was excited and nervous about her new life. Abby was happy her replacement had been found. She knew she could now retire soon.
Abby tried to calm and instruct the nervous teen. "Naina darling, I have been with Mr. Price for over twenty years. When I was about your age, I came to serve Mr. Price in much the same way as you have. My father owed Mr. Price a large debt that he could not repay. So, I became the payment to satisfy that debt. I went with him willingly and have happily served Master Price ever since. I have been well paid for my services. Over the years I have served him, I have seen the world. I have also saved enough money that I can retire in comfort. Master Price can be very generous. He can also be very stern if he needs to be. You will be expected to not only care for his house but provide certain services of a personal nature to Master Price. As long as you perform the duties and provide the services he expects, you will do as well as I have."
'Master Price?' The words 'Master Price' echoed in Naina's thoughts. The teen did not hear the part about providing him with personal services. "Abby, is it usual in America for a maid to call her employer master." The teen asked.
"It is in Mr. Price's house and some others as well. He requires you to call him 'Master' when at home and in private. You will call him 'Sir' when out in public. Remember that and you will be fine."
Naina had her first twinge of regret as she thought to herself. 'Should I have so quickly agreed to leave my family and go with this American businessman? Yes, it was her father's wish, so she had done the right thing.' She answered her own question. "I will remember, Abby."
"Good! Now let's get some rest. It's a long flight home."
Abby was soon dozing in one of the overstuffed chairs of the luxury jet. Naina was far too excited and nervous to sleep. She just stared out the window as the land and sea below rapidly passed by.
As they flew into darkness, it seemed to Naina like it had been such a short time in the air. When she felt the plane nose down slightly and heard the engines noise grow slightly quieter. She woke Abby.
"What's wrong, Naina?" The drowsy woman asked.
"I am not sure." Naina then told Abby of the changes she had felt and heard.
After a few seconds to gather her senses, Abby looked at her watch and responded. "We're alright, Naina. Master Price may just be making a brief stop somewhere. He does that now and then. He'll let us know where we are, if he wants us to know. Now, just relax. We still have a long flight ahead of us."
A few minutes later, Mr. Price came out of his air borne office and joined his maids. "Abby, Naina, I'm sure you have noticed we are descending. I have decided to make an unscheduled stop. We will be staying overnight in Tokyo. I want my new maid to get a taste of some of the many places she may be going with me. That is, if she is a good and obedient servant. Will that be alright with you, Naina?"
"Oh yes, Sir... errr, I mean yes, aah...Master. I want to be a good servant for you."
John Price smiled at Naina. He was beginning to think he had made a good decision when he accepted Mr. Nalwali's gift.
About twenty minutes later, the Gulfstream was on final approach to the Tokyo airport. Naina had never flown anywhere before. It was therefore a given that she had never seen the lights of a major city from above. She was fascinated by the sights below and kept her face glued to the aircraft's window. She finally pulled away from the window as the jet taxied not to the terminal but to a hanger near the edge of the field.