A penny saved is a penny earned!!
This famous quote reminds me of someone who saved something day after day.
I am talking about Rita Didi (elder sister), who was the only house-maid for 4 flats (apart from ours, Suma, Rupaa & Chaterjees) out of 6, in ‘90s at ‘Choudhury baadi ‘(baadi meaning house in Bengali) at Kolkata.
We can see the plump dark-colored round-faced Rita, aged 36, in our compound from morning till evening except the time she spends in her home during the afternoon hours. Her smile and the lal sindoor (Vermillion) on her forehead added up her charm. Being an illiterate but expert in household and kitchen work, she loved to chat over anything and everything under the sun. She was up to date with the latest cinema in town, India-Pak cricket scores, football result of Mohan Bagan / East Bengal and other gossip who’s appearing for Madhyamik porikka, (10th board exams) or who’s dating whom in the vicinity.
What inspired me to write a few lines about Rita is her power-packed determination and dedication combined with hard work. She never took off until unless there’s some serious issue. However, she used to doze off in the afternoon which makes her work till late evening.
In her family, as captioned, her husband Ram, a local cycle rickshaw-puller. When we hired her, she had two sons but as she was yearning for a daughter, she once again was ready to expand her family. She lived in a neat and clean big room with a lot of space which occupied the rickshaw.
As she was on the family way, she used to share our evening snacks made by my mother. Mom used to keep a separate share of masala dosa or vegetable Upma, which were Rita’s favorites.
It was a daily routine in the evening to hand over Rs.5/- (sometimes Rs.10 or 15) to Suma, another resident in our building who saved the money for Rita. Suma did this job with great fervor. This saving combined with her meager salary put together was of great support to her family. Those days we used to pay Rs.60-70/- (less than $2) for routine chores. All the girls in the building admired Rita and reminded to deposit the money (if she forgets) to the woman in charge. By now she had her third son who became our time pass while she carried out her work.
As she believed in ‘do the new’, we told her about Bank Savings A/c. One day Suma took her to open a bank account and the friendly dude at the counter suggested ‘why not learn to write your name’? That was a bouncer. But she was not the one to give up. With this twist, mission of educating Rita started. Suma’s neighbor Rupaa & her daughters took the initiative. Rita had to take time for studies. Amazingly, Rita picked up rapidly to read and write Bengali. Rita treated everyone with mishti (sweets) the day she signed on the deposit slip at the bank.
It would be incomplete if I didn’t mention here her demand for a bright and colorful cotton sari during Pujo – Durga puja the most celebrated biggest festival for the people of Bengal.
As the education boost up her life, she had great dreams for her sons. At least she didn’t want her sons to handle the rickshaw. With that little money she saved she had expanded her house, with trendy and stylish decoration, she gave a new modern look to her house. She made sure that her sons never miss their school education.
I can say that:
The start of something new brings the hope of something great,
Anything is possible
There is only one you
You will only pass this way once – so do it right.