She comes in at her regular time of work, quietly smiling and purposeful. Her measured steps walk their way to the kitchen basin, resuming the daily ritual of cleaning utensils in the sink, followed by the kitchen counter. As the hour climbs slowly, the other tasks slowly begin to get done. Sweeping and mopping the floor, cleaning and dusting and more.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of her cleaning, as the minutes pass by and I’m quietly working in another room, I can hear the slow murmur of voices. There’s a gentle, patience-filled older voice juxtaposed with the squeaky high-pitched tone of another countering it. The talk, the murmuring, the exchange of two very different voices pique my interest. This discussion is getting very serious. The eloquent older voice is discussing how a toy came to be broken, while the young one is counteracting her in Kannada, a language she doesn’t fully know yet, yet whose brokenness sounds absolutely delightful. I try to hear what they are saying and it makes me laugh. Beyond what is being discussed and said, I am watching my child learn a language from a woman who is as much an innocent as her, yet whose fate was pre-decided by a circumstance of birth.
Ayesha looks very young for her age, yet at 25 she’s already the mother to two children, shouldering several responsibilities including that of her home. Her day starts early, often involving all kinds of work at several homes, cleaning, cooking, washing, dusting and more. The work doesn’t just end with our houses, but there’s another cycle of work waiting for her at her own home.
Like everyone else she always nurtured a dream of studying more, working somewhere, earning better, but as with most of the women from most households, her dream was left unfulfilled for the only other option available – marriage.
There have been times when I’ve taught her how to do things a certain way, what to do and when, but there have also been times when Ayesha’s taught me about patience, taught my child kindness and bits of a language and spoken with her more gently than many I know.
As an educated woman, with the means and freedom to decide what I want to do with my life, it is amazing to watch the resilience Ayesha displays when I hear her talk of her life. And therein lies the learning I have gleaned from her,
- The circumstances we are born with are accidents of birth. It doesn’t define how much we grow or flourish
- It doesn’t matter how difficult life is, being gentle and kind never needed much
- It’s only in giving that we receive. Kindness reciprocates in kind
- A ready smile can take away a majority of our worries
- Doing an honest day’s work is defined by a life led with dignity and respect.
- It takes ‘talking nonsense with a child’ to appreciate the value of the adult doing the talking
Besides all the time Ayesha invests in me and my home, what matters to me is my child respects her ‘akka/aunty’ just as much. If I can instill in her the value of labour and dignity no matter what job we do, then that’s what I’d like her to take away from any interaction with people who in their own way make our daily lives easier.
The author Charmaine Kenita is a writer, blogger, artist, doctor and a believer in the power of stories. She writes on subjects as diverse as parenting, to decor and IoT, is a branding expert, content curator and founder of www.outoboxcontent.com, a boutique content and social media firm. She also teaches yoga, works on recycled projects & is a passionate voice behind the city’s environmental causes.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wonder Women World.