The House Robot
A free short story
by Siri Paulson
Priya’s house was the last one on their street in Jaipur to get one of Reenu Mehta’s house robots. By that time, everyone knew how many things house robots were good for. You could order them to do your laundry – cheaper in the long run than paying a washerwoman. You could teach them to cook basic curries and naan faster than you could do it yourself. Some of them would even diagnose female complaints and tell you what medicines you needed. Only a woman engineer could have thought of that, the aunties said approvingly.
So Priya talked her mother into putting aside some of Priya’s teaching salary, little by little, until they could buy a second-hand house robot. It was just as useful as advertised, and, even better, her mother was able to boast to her friends about what a good deal they had gotten.
During this time, Priya’s uncle drove in from the village once in a while to see how they were getting on after the death of her father. At first he had brought money, but that had stopped after Priya’s mother turned down his offer of marriage. It was only right, he said, that he should marry his brother’s widow and so look after her. But Priya had seen the way he looked at her, and she knew it was not her mother he wanted. Since then, …