Lata is my girl-Friday. She has been helping me out with my household chores for the past 10 years. She gets in at 8.30 and for the next 2 hours works around the house getting it neat and tidy.
Married off at the age of 15, and with three children by the age of 22, this is the only life she has known. She started accompanying her mother to work when she was old enough to run chores in and around the house. Having never been sent to school, she never feels the lack of a literate existence. To me it’s a scary notion, of not knowing any letters. But I think for her it’s a situation of ‘not missing what one didn’t know’.
Hers is the face I see every morning when she rings my door at 8.30. There are mornings when seeing her pleasant, smiling face actually works on soothing my frazzled nerves. Not just because she helps me with my chores, but because that’s the way she is. Calm and smiling. I don’t recall her grumbling about the amount of work, or the number of guests, which increases her workload.
She goes about her daily chores with the same patient look. I have seen her face her husband’s life threatening sickness with the same patient look on her face, having full faith in ‘Shivan’ whom she worships everyday. She misses her three children as they live with her mother-in-law in their native village, 1400 kms away, near Chennai. But with a very pragmatic shrug, she says she knows that it’s the only way she will be able to work and earn the money which will ensure a better future for them.
Having observed her at close proximity for over a decade now, I realize that one doesn’t always learn lessons in living from great personalities, who do great deeds. Sometimes some of them are taught to us by ordinary, less fortunate people who make the best of what life offers to them, at the same time not letting go the hope which keeps them going.