It’s 8:00 am and the ground floor elevator button comes to life. It takes a few minutes to reach to the ground level from the 22nd floor. I stand all of a sudden from my stool as the red arrow goes below the 5th floor. As she enters, my eyes see the most poised and humblest living soul I have ever come across. The bell rings as we touch the ground floor of this huge tower that hosts more than 5000 people. The elevator door slowly opens and there she stands with a small plate, full of flowers, sweets and pleasant smelling incense. She offers me a sweet with a smile.
I press, 16, as we move upwards I could feel a sensation in my stomach, even after all these years I am not used to this technology. This is her daily routine, Mrs. Balakrishnan goes to the nearby temple every morning and her arrival creates an aura of positivity in the confined space. We have never exchanged a word, but she seems to be pious. Her kindness reflects when every morning she offers me a small piece of sweet from her plate, the same plate from which she will distribute among her family. She does not make me feel the same, like most of the world do. The elevator bell dings and the doors open. She exits leaving behind the fragrance of flowers and incense.
I take my place on the stool and wait, for a long time the place ceased its movement, I am lost in my thoughts. I regain my conscious mind when number 11 turns red and comes to life. I stand again and we reach hastily, Mr. Ahuja and his son Prateek are ready to move out. Prateek has his head dug in his phone and Mr Ahuja is on a phone call. I press B for the basement while Mr. Ahuja shouts at the other person to hold on as he is in the lift. He talks to himself, mostly grumbling that the apartment should work on getting phone signals inside the lift, after his loud ranting to self and Prateek pretending to be ignorant as always, we finally reach the basement. They head out and I press the button for ground level, I feel claustrophobic in the basement.
The bell dings once again and I stand in attention posture, and then enters the life of this building, the only person I notice talking to each and everyone. It’s like the sun rays in a dull space, at times I relate her to fluid, as she fits in all conversations with such an ease, she even says – “Good morning Kaka (uncle),” I give her my warmest smile, “Good morning Janvi madam!” She enquires of my health, my family, and then shift to talk about the weather and the traffic, she tells me about her big project in the coming days for which she might leave the city, I smile and wish her luck. We reach the 20th floor in no time, she heads out waving goodbye, I smile and a reflection of my daughter flashes in my mind. She has the brightest smile too, one that could light up the whole world. I see very less of her now, she has moved to a big city for job. I don’t get to talk to her often, only a few minutes during my lunch breaks. She is mostly busy, but happy and that makes me the happiest father. Janvi madam is different. I am amazed to see how she interacts with an unknown face.
I remember once, there was a young lad who must have come for an interview, profusely sweating and shuffling his legs. Janvi madam entered and sensed his nervousness, soon they got engrossed in a conversation about market shares and the fall of economy that I could not grasp. Strangely though, the young boy seemed much more at ease than when he had entered. She is a magician. Or maybe she is the perfect example of how humans should be. Happy, graceful, comforting, empathic with all the good vibes.
I have worked here as a liftman for three years now and never saw her in a negative mood. Maybe it is true what they say about happy and positive people – they hold in them the power to clear all dark clouds. So does she, everytime. Why does not the world harbour more people like her? Her tiny conversations make this closed space come to life. The world needs these ‘tiny talks’ to help them get through their burdened days. An exchange of a few good words, a smile, a little concern, a gesture of appreciation, and kind wishes of having a good day ahead can bring a genuine smile. I keep on brooding how these ‘tiny talks’ can leave a long lasting impression on people, as Janvi madam does. Most of the people avoid talking to me, I am a liftman and not one of them. If more people do the same, this closed space would not only serve the purpose of taking people to their destinations but also add meaning to life.