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While we look up to inspirational women and make them our role models, some of these women could be nearer home. My cook, for example.
Every now and then we do come across incredible women who with their presence leave a lasting impact on us and our lives. We have numerous examples of exemplary women who have done exceedingly well in the realm of politics, bureaucracy, science, education, social work, sports, medicine, and many other fields in India & around the world. Bringing accolades and national prestige. Their endeavours and achievements in a patriarchal set up certainly acts as a source of inspiration for many and leave a lasting impact on young impressionable minds.
These are the well-known women of our times but what about those lesser known women who live on the socio-economic margins? What about those women who work in our households as a help and make our lives comfortable?
One such woman is my cook – the lady who works in my mum’s household. Her name is nothing less than lilting tunes beaded together in a string; you may call her Geet, Geeta or Sangeeta! She has some of the most amazing culinary skills and is a perfectionist. What is remarkable about her is that she cooks and serves food with utmost love, and this turns out to be a crucial ingredient that makes it all the more delicious.
She is the only one who earns in the family as her husband doesn’t keeps well and suffers from epileptic fits. I’m always amazed to see her tenacity as the lady has been at her vibrant best despite all the odds and challenges in her life.
She tells me that her dream to educate her son is something which acts as a catalyst, and keeps her ticking. She manages her own home and other people’s homes, provides for her ailing husband, and dreams big for her son’s education. She smiles through testing times, and remains sincere towards her work.
She has thus managed to win my admiration. Because for me she is one of those incredible women who don’t run away from challenges, and every day with a positive attitude she manages to overcome them. She takes life as it comes, and with a smile on her face she deals with all the adversity that life brings to her.
In the recent past she was under debt, and was constantly being threatened by her lender. The tension increased due to cash-crunch after the demonetisation, and that was the time I intervened. I realised how the present situation has become all the more challenging for those people, and mostly women who are living on the fringes of the economy. Due to lack of education, and an absence of awareness with regard to even their basic rights, the condition of these women working in the unorganised sector tends to become more challenging.
Amidst all the complexities, her husband’s health had worsened. Doctors referred him to a renowned hospital of one the big metropolitan cities which was certainly beyond her reach, as even if the government would have paid for her husband’s hospital bills the cost of living in a new city even for a month or two was exceedingly high, and beyond her reach.
One of the biggest concerns for Sangeeta was her son, as who would have taken care of her only son who had his exams in the coming months? She is the bread-earner of the family and gets little time to pay individual attention towards her son with regard to his studies. However even with her meagre resources, she tries her level best and manages to send her only son for tuition which happens to be expensive. Her only wish as a mother is to provide for her son’s education which she was deprived of so that he gets into a respectable job one day.
She starts her day at 4:0 clock in the morning and after doing the daily chores of her small household, she reaches the big bungalows to cook varied and delicious meals. Due to her skills she is the most sought after cook for birthdays and engagement parties. Her vibrant presence, delicious food, and skillful presentation is the beauty of any party but her own life stands mundane and remains encircled with struggles and complexities. Despite this, she manages to smile through them.
It is time that we spare some thought to these women who make our lives comfortable with their help. It’s time to help them back in our own little ways, and to stand for them and with them in their hour of need. Be it solving their financial struggles, or even helping them with their children’s education, or spreading awareness with regard to their rights – all this can go a long way in providing them a bit of respite from their daily struggles.
If you can then do lend them a helping hand. I believe in the joy of giving, and often pass on my lightly worn clothes – sarees and salwars to her. Things like these bring a smile to her face, and I’m sure it earns me a few blessings.
As it is rightly mentioned in Atharva Veda – “May you prosper! May you earn as by hundred hands and disburse by a thousand! When you are involved in benevolent work, your capacity to earn multiplies….those who give in a good cause are surely blessed by the lord!” A little bit of thoughtfulness & sensitivity can bring happiness & comfort to those who are in real need of this!
Image source: flickr, for representational purposes only.