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She tells me about the money she has saved for medical emergencies that might crop up, and to keep her salary on hold. She has also prepared her 13-year old boy, taught him to cook, just in case.
My friends here know I love cha! I have my first cup at 5.30 am with my favourite songs and prayers playing in the background, and my second cup, at 7.30 am, is always with Nomi, my friend, my domestic help.
Duto biskoot, duto pauruti (Two biscuits or two slices of bread) is always ready for her and at times a bun, and we have a chat about our ‘shukh-dukkho’.
She talks about the happenings around. The price of veggies. The disturbance in her locality. Her husband’s refusal to take a vaccine. The party politics in her village.
Her husband is much older than her and she is constantly worried about him. What if she brings the virus home? How will it affect them?
She informs me about the money she has saved for the medical emergencies that might crop up. And tells me to keep her salary on hold. “Thakur na korun. Tomader kachey Jeno haath na partey hoy.” (God forbid. I hope I don’t have to beg for money), she says.
I also come to know how she has prepared her 13-year old boy. She has taught him to make rice, mashed potatoes and dal. She has bought Maggi, chirey, muri and chanachur. The boy can now light the stove and prepare a meal. And then she laughs it off. “At times I call home and tell him that I will be late. But I reach on time and watch him try to cook a meal.”
Today, she comes and tells me about the woman who was the security guard’s wife in another complex and how that woman hasn’t been seen in the last two weeks. Today morning, the Corporation vehicle took away her body wrapped in a black polythene. She also tells me about other cases.
I share my virtual experiences of loss and grief among those I know.
“If that is how it is with you, do we stand a chance at all, boudi?” She asks me.
I try to put up a brave front.
It’s first of May tomorrow. I tell her to go on leave and stop stepping out. She shouldn’t be risking her life anymore.
I see a hint of sadness. “I look forward to this cup of tea. It’s not just a cup of cha. But a cup of hope and warmth,” she says.
When she leaves, I tell her that we will be in touch.
“We will meet… we have to live, boudi,” she repeats. And she is gone, but not before I see her wiping her eyes with the pallu.
On another note, she works at four households. While three of us have relieved her of her duties from tomorrow, the fourth has threatened to cut off her wages or throw her out if she doesn’t report tomorrow.
My friends were right. We don’t learn our lessons. And even if we say we have…we unlearn it fast.
Image source: a still from the short film Juice
Sreemati Sen holds a Masters in Social Work from Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan. She is a Development Professional, specialised in Psychiatric care of Differently Abled Children. That hasn’t stopped her from exploring other fields. Years read more...
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"There is a story and a vision which makes us gravitate towards cinema. Even as we worked as assistants on ads, we realised that cinema was our true calling," say Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh Raseen.
The Railway Men. Mili. Cuttputli. The Diplomat. Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. And more…
Let me introduce to you the talented designer duo who have worked on these, and can be considered today’s upcoming costume designers for the screen. Gunpreet Kaur Mann and Deepali Singh.
Having studied at NIFT, Gunpreet Kaur Mann sent her portfolio out to several designers. Her first gig was as an assistant stylist with Manoshi and Rushi, who also happen to be a designer duo. She worked on an ad film starring Saif Ali Khan and eventually landed a full time job with designer Vikram Phadnis. Years of experience as assistant costume designer followed, which eventually led her to getting a break.
A ‘thank you’ makes a lot of difference in the way any woman in your life sees herself in your eyes. It might even mean the world to her.
I have not received any appreciation in the past. Probably never will. This is the experience of ample women across the globe. The expectation to be thanked for all the sacrifices she makes to keep others happy has faded. Yet the urge to hear few words of acknowledgement always lingers.
There is never a day when she pushes off her own burdens. She knows not to give up on people she loves. Women in general, are givers by nature and hence, give without asking anything in return. They have been the care givers and lovers since centuries however receive no appreciation.
It will mean the world to your mother if you answer her calls. If your sister seems lost give her a hug and assure her about her strengths. Tomorrow, there might come a day when you would have to make your daughter feel empowered with few words of wisdom every now and then. For the children to feel wanted and loved, you must be able to spare some quality time with your wife and be present in the moment.
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