Relationships Society

Maid in India

“It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.” ~ Babe Ruth
Written by Archana Kapoor
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Yes yes, I know that you know that I am a big fan of PM Modi and that I am likely to treat all his pet projects like my life’s personal mission; and I also know that you may think that I am smitten by him (thank god for small mercies…. Desh is a bigger fan and ardent follower of the PM, else my marriage would have been on the rocks!!). But no no.. this isn’t a spelling mistake and I am referring to the same ‘maid’ who sets the hearts of millions of Indian women racing towards the finish line of the full marathon. Maids and their saga in India, not an unheard story, eh?!

Again, let me go back to my roots as I usually love to do – my very own North India. North Indian families send maids as part of the big bargain – the daughter’s wedding trousseau – a family tradition followed by the hard-core Thakurs! And it’s true in this day and age too, … well for most affluent families. That’s what happened to my folks too – two very sweet maids (so I am told) were sent as part of the wedding trousseau when mom and dad tied the knot! Surprised? Don’t be! It was business as usual. However dad being dad and the way he is, he didn’t approve of it at all and sent half the trousseau back. Half, because am assuming the two maids weighed a substantial amount 😉 So with half the booty gone, mom was left to deal with the house work on her own. She didn’t mind it ofcourse… and in due course they found another ‘regular’ maid who would come home, finish her chores and go back – unlike the wedding trousseau.

But why am I reminded of the yesteryears? Thanks to ‘Mukta’ – the blessed soul who releases people from their bondage and hurls them towards nirvana! I also call her ‘Mukta bai!’ Hmm; Mukta – our very own good old maid, who works in our house currently; has been around for years and throws tantrums on a daily basis! These days me thinks it would have been so good if mom’s wedding trousseau would have been rather gracefully accepted. But can one argue with dad? No! Is dad ever wrong? No! Then how can one question his decision? Right! Hence, mom kept looking for house help when she had us naughty little bundles of joy! Many women came and went, and finally mom’s hunt ended with Mukta – our vegetable vendor!

Mukta used to sell vegetables and come to South Mumbai all the way from Kurla. These days Kurla doesn’t sound like long distance where one would need a passport to travel, but in those days (am talking over 20 years back) it was a really far-off place. So a nine-yard clad vegetable seller who travelled all the way from Kurla was a prized catch. Why? Because she would sell as much as she could and the last house to be visited was always ours! Mom would buy all her stock almost on a daily basis (and yes, don’t wonder much… North Indians eat well :p), but at her price ofcourse. Mukta knew emptying her entire stock meant a beating on price, since she was also aware of mom’s sharp bargaining skills. She seemed okay with it and mom was more than happy. She got fresh veggies on a daily basis without having to take the trouble of visiting the market and wasting her precious time. It used to be tiring for Mukta; she was a really frail figure and she would lie down outside my house for a couple of hours. That’s when mom also started talking to her once in a while, gave her tea when she woke up. And the bond got created.

Once day when Mukta came home to sell the veggies, she was upset about her financial problems, what with a couple of growing kids – a son and a daughter, their studies etc. She was very stressed and cried in front of mom. Well, compassionate that my mother is, she seized the opportunity and asked her if she was willing to work as house help in my house and could earn some extra income that could be of use to her. Along with that, she would also get clothes and books for her kids. Mukta welcomed that thought and agreed.

From that time onwards, she has been a permanent fixture in my house. She has seen us growing up and has helped in the house tremendously. Her children studied well, the daughter became a nurse and later also got married in a decent family. The son took up a job some years back and supports the family. Whilst Mukta is the permanent maid of the house, there have been times when she has been absent for long. I remember this one time when she had disappeared for nearly six months. We had no way to contact her and did not even know where she lived. We believed the worst, given that her health was very fragile, even though she came across as a very strong person. But, suddenly out of the blue, she reappeared at my doorstep and we took her back. It was a welcome sight, not because we didn’t have a maid (mom did come up with a temporary solution), but because she was healthy, alive and kicking. She has had such ‘missing in action’ stints many a times, but has always been welcomed back to the house; also because of the loyalty and trust factor. More importantly, mom doesn’t believe in abandoning people, especially those who have had rough patches all their life.

She is tenacious, survived illnesses, added value to our lives and is still going strong! #Maids #Modi Click To Tweet

Mukta and I share a fundu relationship. Though these days her temper is mercurial and she throws tantrums at every woman in the house, she never refuses anything that I ask her to do. She knows I will always return the favour and has this soft spot for me. She is a woman who has been through a lot, worked hard all her life and is still slogging it out despite being a senior citizen. Such are the compulsions of life unfortunately, that people take on things that they may never have thought of, to earn a decent living.  She is a tenacious woman who has also survived so many illnesses and is yet going strong. Recently she had disappeared again for a long time, and magically appeared out of thin air just before my wedding. Once again, she was a welcome relief. Afterall, Mukta is part of a powerful workforce in our country, a workforce that is perhaps the most important backbone for the Indian households. Ask the zillion women of this country and I can bet they will choose their ‘Mukta’ over their better halves at times!IMG-20150303-WA000

Btw, I am not very sure about Mukta’s political preferences and whom she votes for in every election. Being a Modi fan I would be happy if she voted for BJP. Though if she is a BJP supporter, atleast we are lucky that she doesn’t mind picking up the notorious ‘jhaadu.’ 😉

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About the author

Archana Kapoor

Banker turned Blogger, INSEAD Alumnus; life manifested in its complete liveliness is Archana. Looking at every aspect of life with a twinkle in her eye, she then garnishes things around her with something special. Check out for yourself in her amazing writing.

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