I live a Queen’s life. I am in charge of my Time and I spend my endowment as I wish to! Well there is an economist who agrees with me too. A kind gentleman called Richard Thaler who proposed in the 1980’s that behavioural sciences dictate that people are more likely to retain and pay more to keep what they think is their own. This applies to my Time! I pay more to earn more of Time to do what I want to!
I am an officer in State Bank of India and enjoy the little comforts of an officer’s life. I work ten hours and come back to my palace, climb into the cupboard and cross the threshold into my own land of Charms!
Reading and writing needs time and how I wished there was someone to care for me when I do it. Typing away at the computer or finishing a book while someone hands me a cup of coffee and then comes in another while and asks if I would like to eat. Ahh..Pampering! Why would I refuse any of that!
But she’s not so lucky. She’s my maid (of honour). She’s a single woman earning her bread and raising kids in alone in a male dominated society. Never educated, she is the perfect example of how tough girls have in India’s countryside.
Married off at the age of twelve by her family and tricked into it, ‘Gudiya’, started off with Life early. She is my age. But at the age when all I wanted was to find out all the ways I could to forget everything about homework and classwork and dash into the playground, Gudiya was starting a family. At the age when I was told that class tenth would make or break my future, she was raising a one year old baby. Wholly dependent on her husband and in-laws for everything, she bore with their wrath for quite a while. But she knew better. In a village panchayat she declared that her in-laws and her husband alike were torturing her as a result of which she was asked to leave the village for her own good.
At the time she was a mother of two young and helpless children. She had nowhere to go but she decided to move to city. She came to Varanasi. Since then she has found a place to stay, an occupation, a school for the kids, and a Bank account! Isn’t she a survivor?! When she tells me her story she cuts it short. She fears I would break into tears! Although after all this she continues to wear her ‘sindoor’ to indicate marriage and avoid unnecessary prying. To me her hair parting is only a valley of a dead relationship where tears and blood flow!
Elsewhere, I have seen young girls treated like economic burden, like marriage material from the day they were born. I have seen girls not being able to have the right to education and economic independence. I have read about girls being trafficked and traded like commodities. It’s tough in India to be born a girl! I remember once during college days I had a friend who remarked ‘We should be proud to be born as women. And perhaps we were born so that we could live strong, come what may!’. Her words have stuck to my conscience. Just a few lucky girls have an easy life. The rest have to earn it with their courage!
She’s a hero! My maid! A brave survivor. Though she is the mistress of her Time too and I can’t really get her to come on Time. She cares like she thinks she should and always leaves with the instruction, ‘kal aayee to khana na bacha mile’. (Don’t miss your meals!)