“So again you’re late for work. What bloody excuse will you give today?”
I keep my eyes focused on the floor and replied “ma’am, my son had fever. I needed to take him to a doctor.”
“Bloody hell! Today, it is your son. Tomorrow, it’ll be you. Why don’t you go work in a hospital instead of coming here huh?”
Anger rose within me but I gritted my teeth, urged myself to keep calm, and said “ma’am I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
“Fish! This is the third time this month. I don’t need you for work from next month. Find another job.”
I silently assess the number of tiles under my feet. These are just empty threats, I say to myself. Finding someone like me is difficult nowadays. I smile.
“What the hell are you standing there for? Go wash the dishes and get Colgate from the stores.”
So that’s it. Just a few minutes of role- call everyday and life gets back to normal. You might have guessed who I am then. I’m Rani, a housemaid.
Things never looked rosy for me right from the day when I dropped out from school to become a housemaid. Life has been one living hell, I thought sadly.
For the next two hours, I dutifully finished all the household chores, all the while witnessing the family whispering complaints and to-hell-with-her comments. The heads of this family treated me with as much kindness as they would reserve for a stray dog. The children, however, treat me better, calling me in respectful tones but even then, they cringe their mouths and twitch their noses.
I have willed myself to get used to people scowling at me wherever I go. At least that way, I get attention, I say to myself. You would almost believe that I have committed a murder just looking at these people’s faces. I still don’t understand why the people treat me this way. I’m not good-looking and maybe, a little shabbily dressed but I certainly deserve better. Well, I cannot dictate what I deserve or don’t, I’m just a small insignificant part of the society.
I had to ask them. I dared not to wait longer. With a bit of luck they might agree. With a bit of luck.
“ma’am, could you spare me Rs. 1000 please? I need to send my children to school. They need to buy books and cloths. Please ma’am…You can deduct it from my next month’s pay ma’am… ”
“Don’t talk to me like that! How dare you tell me what to do, huh? Why do you send your children to such high-class schools if you can’t afford it?” they ask me.
How can I not? Do not my children deserve better? Would I bear to see them treated the same way as I am? Do not they deserve a better life than mine? Do not their children deserve to grow up to be great film stars, great leaders? I’ve lived this life enough. I fear to let my children feel the pain of this profession.
And I thought of my own husband at home. The poor guy. Every night, he comes home drunk and beats me up. But still, I feel for him. He works so hard in that construction site just to bring back a few pennies, notwithstanding the fact that most of it is used up in getting himself drunk. I myself have a salary of only about Rs. 900 per month. There are no day-offs in this profession.
The tougher and more dangerous the job, the less is the pay, I thought. Look at those construction workers. Look at all those stunt artists. They risk their life so that the hero can smile to the camera. And even when I complete extra work like washing the toilets and cleaning the fans, the family conveniently passes it off as a compensation for all the days I arrived late.
There is only a certain limit of tolerance but for us, suicide is not the option. Every story has a twist but not mine. The only saving grace is when I’m home and tired… I get to lie on my son’s feet and sleep peacefully until the new dawn…