Women around the corner
On International women’s day, when newspapers are always swarmed with stories of extraordinary women and their larger than life feats, my gaze inadvertently shift towards a petite looking woman in my house.She is my household maid, Shanta. Most of the woman who have worked in my house have touched me by their feisty, courageous and resilient approach to life. They are leaders in their own stride. My recent maid is also a perfect blend of all these qualities.
Struggle started early
Shanta had been the sole bread earner of her big family of young women surviving after her father’s sudden death. Taking the responsibility on her tender shoulders then, she toiled hard to give better lives to her siblings. Even after marriage fate eluded her as she became a young widow with a little a daughter by her side. She came back home to her mother’s place.On struggling for survival,she worked at any odd jobs she could lay her hands on.
Shanta now has a grown up, married daughter who lives away from her. This fiercely independent lady is dependent on none but earn her living by working as a house maid. Money is crucial to her as she has to send it to pay the medical bills of her daughter. Her daughter is frail as she suffers from a tumor in her breast. From dawn to dusk this feisty lady is busy completing her client’s chores. She never let her emotions spill in form of tears or anger while doing her tasks. She herself suffers from various ailments. When it becomes overwhelming for her, she sulks into silence for few days.
I nudge her to open up at that time but never ever she harps her woes to gather sympathy. She reminds me of Lucille Clifton’s woman in her poem ‘’won’t you celebrate with me’’ ;a woman’s encounters with destiny.
A perfect balance as human being
The most remarkable quality in her is the paradox she so finely balances in her life. At one side she always got a raw deal from life and became a man and leader. On the other side she had always been this tenderly woman who nurtured her family with love and care. She exudes feminism in the same body which shines in the armor of masculinity.
Ladies like Shanta may not have achieved laurels however they surely are an inspiration for people. We start groaning at the slightest discomfort in our life whereas they are the epitome of optimism. Their courage to defeat odds kindles the flame of hope in every heart.
(This story is a true account of a real maid)
Mridula Singh ( Teacher Educator)