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Can you transcend the barriers of religion to give Eidi when it truly counts? Let’s be human first!
My maid sauntered into my house, six years ago. She said she hailed from a remote hamlet four hours away from Kolkata.
She quoted a reasonable amount and was willing to wash my terrace balconies. That is all that mattered to me. She has today become the Reigning Queen of many households in our building. She begins her work at eight in the morning and works till midnight. She is by no means rude or greedy like many I had seen earlier. She has won hearts with her patience – she will wait if your work is not done. Never in a hurry. She does everything. Fill water, take your wheat to the flour mill, take kids to the bus stop for school, baby sit for an hour, fold clothes, wash clothes, floors, window sills. I have never heard her back answer or grumble.
There is a purpose to all the hard work. To earn money for her three children in the village who are raised by her mother. She, her husband and kids were thrown out of their family house many years back. With her husband, she ventured into Mumbai to find their fortunes. She has heard her kids growing up only over the phone and once in ten days, in a year, when she visits them.
She hardly ever takes an off, for she is hard working. Only when she is very ill, will she be off work. Always smiling at the idiosyncrasies of kids and adults, she shares their joys and sorrows. News of death, illness or any issues in the building we get from her. No, not gossip; it is her concern that she shares and understands my aloof lifestyle. She informs me so I may do the needful. If I do not, there is no judgement. She is nonchalant sharing all festivals in the building and yet present for work all days.
She is a boon for Holi, Diwali and Ganpati fests – she is present as she has nothing special to do. She is favoured for her omnipresence. Her only festival is Eid when she distributes kheer to all and sundry whether she works for them or not.
She brings kheer for kids all over the building for in them she sees her kids enjoying. A day before Eid, I hand over the ‘Eidi’, her rightful gift, according to me. I have been doing it all these years.
This year I had to go for a trip and was not sure if I would be back for Eid so I gave her Eidi and wished her. Her whole being twinkled. I thought it was the money.
I thought wrong!
She took it quietly with a happy smile. After some time she came to me where I was cooking, and said, “You know Bhabhi, I work in so many houses. I clean for their festivals and work diligently for all. Only you and the Doctor bhabhi above gives me Eidi. No one else does. Koi humko Eidi nahin deta bus aap dono hi.“
In those words, she made such an important statement for our country.
Eidi for a person is love. A happiness they have been feeling ever since they were children, when after Namaz they waited eagerly to have their elders keep Eidi in their hands. What they gave was not significant.
They gave. That was significant. You cannot describe the pure bliss of being the recipient of Eidi. It is the love of elders. It is belonging. It is the counting of Eidi coins to eat sweets or just lovingly stave it away.
Here, where Runu is so far off from her children, her parents. From both forces. From one she may receive Eidi, to another she may give Eidi. Both pleasures taken away – for livelihood is an important duty; one she has no complaints about.
She accepts. People have changed her name to ‘Renu’, to ‘Reena’ to suit their sensibilities and avoid the discomfort of reminders of her faith. Her services are valuable you see. She is willing to go the extra mile for all.
They give her generously, but on their festivals when their happiness counts!
They do not realise, this one day is valuable for her.
The Eidi you put in her hand will make her being shine and put a spring in her step. She never counts it anyways.
It is important you put something you call Eidi – for her soul knows what it means to hear, “Ye le teri Eidi!”
She accepts her fate and the subtle discrimination as she hands over her kheer containers to everyone, sharing her Eid filled heart.
None of the lot have the sensitivity to overcome ,”It is not our Festival” and just say “Ye le teri Eidi.”
I feel content that I could overcome and teach my children a small lesson in humanity. It is her happiness that should count; she offers her labour to us the year round, non-stop, no holidays during ‘our festivals’ – the only one who will work during those days when other maids will say, “It is our festival, we will not come.“
Let us give people their Eidi when it matters the most to them! Be not afraid to offer a hug as that is how one wishes Eid Mubarak.
The veils of discrimination lifts then and the sprouts of equality can be sowed.
Top image via Pixabay
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