The first time mom hired a maid I was very little, about 8 years old. A well behaved and hard working young lady, S would speak only when she was spoken to.The oldest child in her household, she sacrificed her education. With her tiny salary, she ensured that her sister and brother went to school. Over the years, she pretty much became a part of our family. It was a common joke among our relatives that she was mom's adopted daughter. When mom started teaching at a school run by her friend, a copy of the house key was handed over to S so that she could continue her chores even if no one was at home. Defending strong negative vibes from family and friends, mom insisted that she trusted S like she would trust her daughters. S later got married to a small-time contractor and had two daughters. We have since moved out of that locality, but S has constantly stayed in touch. She calls mom once a month and even visits often.
Now here is why I am telling her story. Through the years, she has saved enough money and purchased a piece of land. She and her husband are registered voters and have a ration card. Her husband learnt how to drive so that he could get more employment opportunities. He now has an additional part time job. She is paying for her brother's education and he is studying his degree now. Her sister completed college and is married to an educated government employee. Her daughters are now in primary school and consistently fetch grades in the range of A and A+. Both of them can comfortably converse in English and Hindi. One of them has been learning dance and one is learning classical music. The local government school conducts computer classes in summer at a nominal fee, both the kids have been enrolled there. S and her husband have been putting aside money as an education fund for the girls. All along, she has been working as a maid and is continuing as one.
We hear of stories from the working class/'blue-collar' labour. We read them in papers, hear them from the help we employ - gardeners, drivers, maids. Most of them are tragic and sad. Drunken husbands, hungry kids, harassed by loan sharks, crying women..the list is endless. Some uncontrollable issues, but many problems that could be handled well with the help of education and better usage of common sense.
But S didn't take that path. She made a choice. She is not educated, but decided that her children would not take her path. She wants them to get jobs, earn well and lead a better life. S made a darn good choice.
In the words of J.K. Rowling, voiced by Albus Dumbledore, "Its our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
S, I would like to say I love you and I am so proud of you. You go girl!!