There are women all around us, and then, there are women who inspire us. I will not write about myself or any urbane woman who is erudite enough to make herself and her work beautiful. I feel it would be injustice if I don’t write about the most hard working woman I have seen till now. No, she is not my mother, but my maid or ‘domestic help’ as she would be called these days. I have been witness to her strength, both physical and mental, for the past seven months now.
When we arrived at this apartment in a new city earlier this year, I was looking for a maid. She knocked on the door one fine morning and appointed herself. We got introduced to each other – she said she’s married, has two kids, lives somewhat nearby, has a mobile phone and drives a scooter to work. I was impressed at the advancement of women in Maharashtra, their hard work and determination to save money and buy their own vehicles. She started working and I observed her in awe, as she works nearly twelve hours each day at about seven-eight households. She cooks, cleans, washes, babysits and massages old women in various families. We keep discussing her strength and dedication to work as she doesn’t waste a single moment at work. Always clean and neatly dressed, she comes prepared with a smile and some chit-chat for everyone she meets.
However, the turning point in our association came a few days ago. In a turn of events, she revealed the true story of her life. She had been married in her village at the her late teens, about twenty years ago. She was in love with another man but her family disagreed. She has two children with her husband, but the man is an alcoholic and used to beat her to pulp. After years of marriage, she couldn’t take it anymore and left him. He insisted on the kids, so she left them too with him. With the help of her cousins and siblings, she settled in Pune, started working and living on her own. Now she earns about twenty thousand per month and lives in a one-room rental flat, alone.
I cannot express here the turmoil that I went through listening to her story. When most women fail to gather the courage to walk out of hell, she did and survived due to sheer perseverance. She has gathered the scraps of her life beautifully and assembled them with the glue of hard work into a beautiful ornament. She might not be able to afford the Mia collection, but in my opinion, she doesn’t need artificial jewellery to make her more beautiful than she already is. I find her perfect as she has given a whole new dimension to hard work and dedication. She continues to inspire a lot of working women around her, every day.