We had moved recently from a different city to Mumbai. We unpacked our bags, and all the clutter of the domestic life fell out. Ahead of the internet connection, the other more important requirement was the all-important cook and a helper to help with the cleaning.
. Finding a house is extremely simple thanks to
housing websites these days, but
unfortunately there is no app to find helpers with a good work ethic and who
have a heart of gold.
As we sent the word out for the vacancy, a plump looking decently dressed humble looking lady accompanied by her young teenage daughter walked into my house for an ‘interview’. She said she was new to the place and knew no one and had worked for no one in the area. She had no references she could give me but she just wanted an opportunity to find some work somewhere. Something in her sincerity appealed to my otherwise suspicious mind as I thought I should give her a chance. Looking at her daughter, I wondered if she would train her to wash utensils and clean houses too. But as I look back to that day, I see how mistaken I was in my assessment on this front.
It turned out that the lady had three daughters around the same age and she was working hard to educate the girls to enable them to make a good living better than what she could manage. Her husband was fortunately not a drunkard but a good man with a steady income and a living quarter that allowed them to live with their daughters with dignity. And both were happily providing for their three daughters to study well beyond the free school education. Vocational courses, a laptop, anything to help the girls learn and get good jobs even while they slogged all day.
On a similar note, another woman I employed had three daughters too. But she had left them in the village she came from. She often spoke about how young she was but had so many responsibilities and mouths to feed. She felt the best way of reducing her ‘burden’ was to hand it over to another in the form of marriage. And even though she lived in the big progressive city of Mumbai, she had no qualms in marrying off her eldest daughter at the age of 15 to a lad of 18 to live a wretched existence like she did.
While the second case made me despondent, the first case gave me hope. Save the girl child, and cherish her is not just another campaign. It is a very real awareness requirement in both rural and urban India where girls are routinely killed, treated as a burden and never a priority. If only, all parents started looking at daughters not as a burden, but educated them and loved them as they would love their boys, the country would be a much better place.
|A giant mithai box at the Chembur Festival|