Our appartment is huge. Atleast 50-60 families reside there. Most of us do not know our nieghbours. It is true that after Shebi went to Dubai, I have befriended my immediate nieghbours, securities and the flat association :-) But there is one name everyone in the appartment is familiar with – UMA. She is always ready,whether it is to look after your baby or get milk from the nearby shop or cut your vegetables. She offers you all kinds of services.
Uma is our part-time maid, not only ours, looks like the whole apartment has owned her :-)
When our bell rang by 5:00ish, my mother eagerly opened the door. She smiled and greeted Uma in. Pari started jumping up and down after seeing her. “Wait dear. Let me clean my hands and then pick you up”. She rushed to the kitchen, got some dettol, played with Pari for a while and then hurried to do the dishes. “I don’t get enough time with my children. There are 12 homes now, out of which 3 goes to office that I need to reach by 7”.
Uma’s day starts at 4:30 in the morning. She cooks for her family, take water from the corporation pipe nearby for her household and get her children ready for school. She has two kids – elder is 11 yrs and younger one 6, both studying. Her job of maintaining orderliness and cleanliness at other homes start by 7.Inspite of her busy weary backbreaking schedules, she finds time to take out grandmothers to the hospital, pay electricity bills or buy vegetables, even for people whom she doesn’t work for. Strange that we keep complaining about lack of time to take our children out for a walk!! Once she finishes the last home, it will be almost 7:30 and she would have to hurry home to take care of her children. After her children hits the sack, she would have her dinner by 11:00 and call it a day. 17hrs of tedious work!!!
Uma does not have weekends either. Rarely does she take off and if she does there would be prior notice.
Oh! Yes,she has a husband, who finds it very convenient to eat, sleep, drink and finish all the hard-earned income that comes into the family. “He was not like this when we got married”,Uma said once.”He used to drink, but would give enough money to run the home. During a construction work, his hand got injured after which he was advised to take rest for few months. We had no savings and so I had to start working. His hand got cured in 3 months but he does not work anymore”. She stops with a sigh. Uma had arranged plenty of jobs for him, like a security at our home (where he does not have to use his hands at all). But the 3 months had injected a high degree of laziness into his blood. He chose to relax at his wife’s expense. “He does not work anymore. But I don’t complain. Things are moving on smooth. Why should I unnecessarily create problems at home?”. She had put in her efforts to bring him on his feet again, but now withdrawn from that task to keep peace at home.
Yesterday when Hari (Uma’s younger son) came home,he showed me how his new maths teacher had taught him to subtract. Uma proudly said,” He is my hope. I will work hard and will not let my children end up like me”. I could feel the strong determination in her voice. I really hope she succeeds.
Uma is one among the hundreds of Indian women who struggles uphill to run a family. She is one among the many who are abused and exploited. She is one among the many whose mileage is driven out by their own men. But what makes Uma different from the lot is her attitude and selfless nature. Not only me, this whole nieghbourhood would agree that she is not like the usual maids. For the same reason, I have found that everyone around is willing to help her too.
Uma’s readiness to work and her cheerfulness, makes her our favorite. She is apt, prompt and reliable (not submissive). Any minimal incentive that you give is taken with utmost happiness. To her it’s a service, which she believes will eventually bring blessings to her children. All that she want is her children to study well, earn good jobs and eventually lead a better life.
UMA’s are hard to find in the kind of society we live in. God bless her and the family!!