This week I made majorly Indian food as we are in lockdown and essentials are open only till 11am.
As we are in the middle of the second wave of Corona virus in India, which is much more intense, contagious, and dangerous than the first one, we are living in constant fear for our lives, as well as our livelihood. After a year of this virus, we have still not contained it, in fact it has got worse. Savings have been exhausted, no income because of imposed lockdown and the fear of falling sick.
In all this chaos, one thing I have seen constant is – my maid’s smile. I always wonder that I come from a relatively good financial background, yet I am so worried about surviving this pandemic, then how much trouble will the poor people be facing, especially laborer’s, maids and servants. So how does my maid manage to smile always?
One day, I sat her down and started taking about her history and present and in whatever way I could help her. I was shocked listening to her story. And more shocked when she denied any extra help from me besides not laying her off from work.
She narrated me her story, and it goes like this. When she was young, around 7-8 years old, she lost her mother. Her mother was murdered by some of their own community people for reasons not known to my maid. Her father was an alcoholic and she was the only child. She never shared a cordial relationship with her father. As she grew old, she finally found love in a man and wanted to marry him. Somehow, one of her relative got the information of her affair, and instead of knowing her background and helping her, that relative contacted her father with a marriage proposal of another man.
That relative convinced her father that the other man is very good and he should get my maid married to him right away. My maid was forced to marry the other man, and once again, she lost the love that she deserved. Later, her father passed away due to over drinking. Soon, she had a son and her happiness had no limits. But it didn’t last long. She had been noticing that all the money that she earned from working at others houses was vanishing. She had no idea at all where the money was going. As some more time passed, she made a dreadful discovery. Her husband had another family in another city, and all her money was going to that family through her husband without her knowledge.
She was devastated. Her child was young. She had no father figure or any elders that she could turn up to for advice. She took the matter in her hands and left her husband. She decided to live in dignity as a single mother rather than being with her cheating husband and sharing him. She worked hard and built a good foundation for her son. She saved so much money, that after some years, she finally bought her own house.
As her son grew older, she thought that finally he too will stand on his own feet and bring some income in the house. But one day, her son bought an expensive mobile from her card without her knowledge. My maid, being the dignified woman that she is, sold her jewellery to pay up the EMIs of the card and warned her son to never do it again. Somehow, seeing her selling her jewellery, it opened her son’s eyes. He apologized to her and found a job. And with his salary, he bought his mother some new jewellery.
Today, he is happily married, has a good job and also recently had a son. My maid is more than happy and content.
I asked her, how are you dealing with the pandemic then? And she said, “I work in two houses (me and my office) and the other source of income is my son’s, which is enough for the four of us to live happily and comfortably.” She also added that her wants are less, so she doesn’t require any other monetary benefits or help. As always, she wants to work and earn her money. Not to be looked upon in pity.
Wow! This hit home. Sometimes, you get inspiration from the most unexpected person. Also, the old saying of “Never judge a book by its cover” stands true here. She is always smiling and laughing. I would have never guessed what she has been through since childhood. I would have never guessed that only for once she found love, and that too was taken away from her because of some dirty family politics.
This is called true strength. She raised her child as a single mother. She brought him back to his senses when he went off track. She lost her mother at a very early age. Her father was good for nothing. She never got to marry the love of her life. And her husband cheated her and robbed her earnings for the other woman. But my maid, overcame all her problems, because she was determined. Because she was true to herself. Because she chose her self-respect and dignity.
Isn’t this such an inspiration! I was blown away after hearing all this. I know there are tough times going on. And my priority is to survive at the moment for myself and Junior. But after listening to my maid, I want to thrive and nothing less. If she could overcome so many problems, then even I can and you can too.