Contrast in the lives of 2 Maids

I live with my aunt in Delhi. She is a Bong. She has 2 maids, one 24 hour maid and one who comes during the day time. In Kochi, it was really difficult to get maids, so I was really happy for my Aunt, with whom these maids have stuck on for years. Binu Didi, as we call the Bengali and 24 hour maid, is a petite woman, in her late 40's I think. I initially thought she was in her mid 30's, but later, after several conversations, I knew otherwise. One day, as I just sat staring out of the window at the Delhi traffic, she suddenly started a conversation with me. She asked me if I was educated. I was taken by surprise, but entertained her questions never the less, I had never spoken to a maid in Hindi before.

The conversation went something like this.
"Aap college gayi ho ?"
"Haan, aap ?"
"Nahi, Nahi ( Shy laughter ), mera beta gaya hai. B.Com ya kuch kiya hai."
"Oh Wow, aapka sirf ek beta hai ?"
"Nahi, char betiyaan bhi hai."
Having said this, her tone became grim and serious. I did not know whether to continue or not. I did continue, in my cheerful voice.
"Tho aapki betiyaan kya karthi hai?"
"Woh yahi kuch gharo me kaam karthi hai."
"Charo ki shaadi nahi hui, bahut darr lagta hai mujhe kabhi kabhi."
"Husband mujhe chod kar chala gaya, saalo ho gaye."
To this, I had nothing to say. I wanted to ask her why she did not think of sending her daughters to college, maybe she couldn't afford it. But why only the son was sent ? I keep thinking I will ask her this, sometimes out of angst I almost do, but then I keep quite.
Today she started another conversation. Lately, she has been having severe hand pain, because of which she is having a heavy course of antibiotics. She comes up to me and says, "Aapko patha hai, mujhe darr lagta hai. Me mar jaungi tho meri betiyon ka kaun dhyan rakhega?" "Unki shaadi nahi hui hai, aur me kya karoon?"
"Mera bhai kuch nahi kartha."
I really had no solutions for her, I only stared at her, with sympathy in my eyes. I told her why she should care. It is not her duty to get them married, they'll fend for themselves. But she believed it was her duty, she must find them all suitable husbands before she dies.

Education at primary level is a must, irrespective of the child being a boy or a girl.
Photo Credit :

Laxmi Bhai is the other maid. She is much darker in complexion, and is a Tamilian. Sometimes, I happen to overhear her conversations with my Aunt. This maid has never thought of opening up to me. She only has a son, who just recently got married. She is much more cheerful, she's always dressed in a saree. Her son tried for CA, didn't get through, and is now working as an accountant, earning approx 30k a month. ( Ouch I thought, that is more than what I earn, someone kill me, kill me now ) Her new daughter-in-law is a nurse, from Palakkad in Kerala. This is one of the conversations my Aunt and Laxmi Bhai had.
"Tho aapki bahu ab bhi kaam karegi?"
"Haan, haan, kyu nahi. Nurse hai, unko tho Fortis aur Apollo se offer aaya hai."
"Oh very good, accha hai."
"Bahu ko tho Tamil nahi aatha, lekin thoda English aatha hai, aur beta ko bhi english aatha hai, tho problem nahi hai."
"Aap abhi tension math lo, ek hi beta tha, shaadi bhi ho gayi, ab aap sirf ek ya do ghar karna"

Wow I thought. Fortis. Apollo. English. This is a language Binu Didi wouldn't understand. Maybe she is also envious. Maybe she secretly wishes she did not have so many children. Maybe she also secretly wishes that she had sent her daughters to college.

Even today, approx 400 Million Indians are below the poverty line, a huge blot to an Economy like ours
Photo Credit :

It is such a vicious cycle. Education and Poverty, so inextricably linked. Or rather, Education, Poverty and Population. I really feel so sorry for Binu Didi, and I feel good about Laxmi Bhai. But if their line of reasoning can be extrapolated, there is a huge reason to worry here. I do not know when Binu Didi's daughters will get married. But I know that Laxmi Bhai's son and daughter-in-law will get settled soon. Such a vast contrast. And they are both maids.

No comments