“They say we spend our lives searching for our better halves, but some of us are much better off with our original halves.”- Diya
The 21st century has seen some massive revolutions within its first decade. The position of women in the society is one among them. The times are changing, women are no longer expected to be modest housekeepers, or submissive wives. Society no longer wants to see women lurking in the soot stained walls of the kitchen chamber. We want our daughters to become self-established, confident and authoritative ladies with bright careers. But, we often forget that, ‘one half of India does not know how the other half lives.’
Kitty Mashi is a very important member of our household, she is our maid. She is a very common figure, a typical member of her folk flock, but her story makes her different.
She sweeps around eight households. And makes one appearance in each, either in the morning or in the evening. But for some special households, it is different.
We belong to the not-so-special category.
She has mothered three sons and has a drunkard for a husband. She loves the four of them, in a way, literature cannot comprehend. Neither the sons nor the husband pay any heed to her existence or her needs, but she looks after them as selflessly as any mother and wife would. She is lean and supple bodied, with a smooth tan and unruly thick hair, always piled up, in an oily bun. Her life is poverty stricken and she owes a debt of thirty thousand Indian rupees to a variety of elements within her radius. It’s pretty remarkable how she manages all her teeny weeny loans, without knowing how to write a single letter of the English-language or her mother tongue. The sons are pretty much jobless as they have seen their father feeding on his wife’s hard earned income and occasionally, opening the tea stall which he owns (only in case he needs more money for his liquor). Nevertheless, Kitty Mashi is a headstrong woman when it comes to education. Inspite of being an illiterate, she has sent all her sons to schools, colleges and universities (it is a different story that they stopped attending classes) in an atmosphere of slum violence and crime.
This working lady has been an outstanding mother for her good-for-nothing sons. For all the 9 years that she has worked in my house, every single day, I have seen her peep out through the windows, overlooking the streets through the balcony, at the beetle-leaf stall and the juice shop, just to catch a glimpse of any one of her sons. It was only to keep a check on their unchecked fatherly genes; just to know their whereabouts, and catch them lying red-handed, later that same day, in the evening. The next day she would smile and tell me,”Again I caught them red-handed. I said,’ No, you were not at home in the afternoon. You went cycling with the barber’s son.’ So he asked,’ Maa how do you know?’ and I twisted his ears and said,’ Because, I am your mother, and God has given mothers eyes, everywhere.” After that, she would laugh loudly and shake her head, picturing her son’s dumbstruck expression. And I could not help smiling. Is this how working mothers are supposed to be?
So, how different are the two halves of India, aren’t they? And still they complete the country and make her a whole. I have often heard of kids suffering from attention seeking syndrome because both their parents are office-goers and have no time for their child. Is it very difficult to give time to your own kid? Is it very difficult to make your kid feel loved? Why can’t parents stand by their child during those volatile adolescent years? Kitty Mashi bought an aquarium and two white pigeons in a mud hut of one room, in which a family of five already lives. Why? For her children, for their happiness, for their irrational demands and beautiful beating hearts.( And I can’t have a dog even after so many years of pleading to keep one. Apparently, a dog cannot live in a 2 BHK flat).
From dawn to dusk, in a worn out cotton saree, smelling of sweat and exhaustion, Kitty Mashi returns to her universe in the hut and cooks and cleans up her own household, after dealing with the rest of the world. In the evening, she spends time with her sister’s two years old daughter and takes her out for an evening walk. And when the moon beams kiss the slumbering city, she sleeps half-awake listening for her husband’s staggering homeward footsteps.
Mothers have this natural instinct to be the most understanding and compassionate beings. The least we, as children to them, can do is just to try to make them happy and proud. It doesn’t take much to be concerned about their welfare and contentment. So, do the little bit you can, and make your mother feel special every single day, rather than just celebrating her role in your life on Mother’s day.
The plight of the working women in our country would take decades to change. The improvement in the system can only be brought about by a joint effort. These are the women we need to support and uphold in our society as they not only act as our doctors, teachers, household helps but also, as our sisters, wives and most importantly, our mothers.
It is their choice that they select to act as both. One could just be a mother and let aside all other works or vice versa. But, they choose to not only bring food to the table, but also worry for the ones who go to sleep with an empty stomach. Working can take a toll on them, but we should step up and ensure that they get enough care and comfort to lead a proper life of happiness and satisfaction. As correctly said by Donna Bell-
“ Motherhood is a choice you make everyday to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing, even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself over and over again for doing everything wrong.”