The Rise of the House Help

I am the last of the generation and of a certain social milieu and thankfully so, that has seen that the domestic/house helps weren’t just people who were hired to assist the householders but rather there was a strict Master-Servant equation and set of principled do’s-don’ts that had to be adhered to.

Slowly and steadily these barriers are being broken down one at a time but I guess maybe living in a small town with a certain upbringing I didn’t see it actually being there.

I remember having a help to assist in with my kids with whom I generally made a statement about she being there when they grow-up.

“ज़िन्दगी भर भैया, यह काम थोड़ी करुँगी !!” prompt came her reply.

I was taken aback, for I thought was a done deal wasn’t one. She- who was from a neighbouring village, she – who had studied up till 12th standard – had her aspirations, dreams to fulfil.

She isn’t a one off case, if you look closely this is what new India looks like. Just a few decades back it wasn’t uncommon for two generations working together as domestic helps for a family. These families ruled over their fiefdoms by providing for these helps in return of loyalty and subservience which is a rarity now.

I believe it is a profession bought about not out of choice but of necessity (not if you are employed by the likes of people living in Antilia). Choice bought mostly due to lack of education and security.

This very choice have fed their families, educated the children and tendered the ill. A choice that helped them climbed up the social ladder one step at a time. A house helps son became a government teacher and another ones works as a manager in a private firm whose office is just next to mine.

Not only are they claiming their economic spaces but art too has started representing in a new light far removed from the Ramu Kaka variety. In the Amitabh Bachhan and Deepika Padukone starrer Piku we get to see how differently two generations interact with their domestic help Bhudan.

In  Rohena Gera’s Sir  we see a love story between Tillotama Shome, the actress essaying Ratna – a house help and her employer. Not the ones that fantasies and fetishes have been built on but a love story in true sense of the word.

Time we move on and realised they aren’t part of the sub-plot anymore but an integral part of our everyday being at least in India.

Lockdown Diary

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For starters we all deserve a pat on our back for staying indoors and surviving the first stretch of the lock-down. If not for the foolhardiness of some, things would have been better. However we are still in much- much better position as compared to most of the so called developed countries of the world.

There a few things that I have realized over this period:

  • How important it is to have a hobby – the ones that you can enjoy doing from the comfort of your home, without anyone’s company.
  • The people you call, message and try getting in touch with are the people that matter. Henceforth whenever you have to choose, you know who to hold on to.
  • The neighbors are and will remain our first source of contact in case of an emergency. If we can’t be pals with them at least be cordial.
  • I have survived till date in 2 pair of shorts & T-Shirt and a pair of nightwear. I can also do away with processed food.
  • Those of us who are gloating over the fact that our needs have become less and we can live with these curtailed wants are absolutely wrong. There is a term in Mewari “मशानों का वैराग्य”, all the above feeling is just that. All this back to basics bullshit is till the time lockdown remains. We are once again going to jump head on into this materialistic world with much more fervor.
  • The political leadership will always have the best interest in their mind in times of crisis irrespective of cast, creed and region. We also need to get above these narrow boundaries.
  • There is a saying, “Hands that serve are holier than the ones that pray”. To all the religious leaders – we have enough places of worship what we need more are the Temples of Healing i.e. the hospitals.
  • There are some genuine people who are doing their job and helping the needy. If they want then they must do their publicity, for the others please spare the theatrics.
  • Our elected representatives, who have not stayed in their constituency to monitor the aid-work, have a lot to answer for in the next elections.
  • For other political workers – not everyone needs to be on the field, you can contribute by staying indoors and stop the spread.

This virus that has shaken the world has its origin in China and they have lot to answer for and pay for.

Regrets of an Early Marriage

This Navratri I decided to trek up to the Neemuch Mata Mandir which is considered as the Vaishno Devi of Udaipur, after more than 12-13 years.Neemuch Mata The Temple is situated atop a hill at a height of approximately 900 meters close to Fatehsagar, Udaipur. Besides the belief in the Devi, the temple offers a mesmerizing view of the lakes. At one point during the journey the devotees arrange bricks/stones in the belief that the goddess will fulfill their wish of having their own/desired home.

Considering it was the Festive season the way up to the temple was chock-a-block with devotees making their way up /down. Here was this group of  married women who I think were around 50+ and I am sure in their heads they were not an year more than 25, some of them were arranging stones and praying to have Mata’s blessings to soon have an abode of their own.

One of them proudly and loudly proclaimed “ज़िन्दगी की सबसे अच्छा दिन वह था जब खुद के घर में शिफ्ट हुए, शादी हुई तब भी इतनी ख़ुशी नहीं हुई थी. २१-२१ साल में माँ-बाप ने शादी करा दी हमारी (I have a strong feeling she meant 16), कुछ मालूम ही नहीं पड़ा !!”

The moment she uttered these words and much to her surprise the entire section of the passage burst out laughing with her and this song from the television series ‘Balika Vadhu’ started playing in my head:balika-vadhu-759

छोटी सी उम्र परनाई रे बाबोसा, कर्यू थारो कई मैं कसूर,

हो इतना दिन्ना तो म्हाने लाड लड़ाया, अब क्या करो महने हिवडे सो दूर …..

Just hope this lady’s husband since their marriage has managed to pacify her because there is hardly anything that he can now do that will make her ever get over the regret.