(category : Womens' education) Click the graphic on the far left.
(The following is a true story told to me, by the illiterate, smart lady who has been our family's household help for the last 25 years.)
In her words .....
" It's the story of the five of us. And I was the youngest of the children.
My parents, my two brothers and me. Father worked for one of the biggest Engineering Colleges in Mumbai, in the department that did repairs all over campus.
My two older brothers were in the huge school near the Market Gate. I used to feel so proud to see them going off each morning in their blue pants and white shirt. Sometimes I felt like going myself. Aaiyo ! How would I wear those blue frocks ? Exposing the knees and skirts billowing in the breeze ? Aaai would be furious. So I used to avidly pour through my brothers' books, and pretend I was studying them.
One passed 10th grade , the other did not. I was married off to someone recommended by our relatives in the native village.
At first it was exciting; a new life, new energy, new places. I had five children. One after another. Four sons, one daughter.
I heard the stories about the drinking. Every day, at sundown, it was so different from back home. Then the beatings began .
And I heard about the Other woman. And decided I did not want to hear any more.
I sent word to my father and mother . That was the smartest thing I did.
They came. And we left. My father carried my youngest , my daughter, in his arms , and asked me to walk ahead of him. With my mother, head held high.
I was back on campus. My children went to the big school. I helped my mother , who worked as a household help in four houses. She too was getting old. I took over my mothers work.
Like they say about the teachers in the college, when my mother grew old, she "retired".
My sons, studied with the help of the uncles, indulged in by the grandparents, and I decided my daughter too would study, and get all the opportunities I never knew I could have.
This time it was my mother who supported me. My father was getting old. His sons were now working. So while I worked various houses doing housework and cleaning, my mother would wait to make fresh hot chappaties , for her granddaughter, when she came back from school. Looking on proudly as she struggled to do homework, sometimes with the help of her brothers, sometimes despite them.
And then came the day, my father collapsed one day on his way home from visiting a friend. My mother was "super-un-educated", but super smart otherwise. She sat stoically at his bedside, occasionally coming out when his friends from department at college, came to see him, surreptitiously wiping her tears....
He died two days later. My children missed him a lot. He and my mother never went to school. But were more educated that many of the sirs and ladies I worked for.
I am both father and mother to my children. My daughter got married a few years ago. My sons decided to give her a wedding she would never forget.
In some ways, she never forgot her wedding.
Seven months of a different type of hell. Beatings. She did not have a father to call; just an old mother, and brothers.
But she had an education, she could read and write, and do simple sums, and was good at assorted craft work.
And so one evening she ran. No footwear, dressed in the one sari that she had been wearing through the day, and appeared at her mother's doorstep at 10 o'clock one night.
I just opened my heart out to her. So did her brothers. She was not going back. She had an education. She would stand on her own feet, and not be trampled.
My daughter has a daily job at a place where they make ready made clothes. Her grandmother can't see now. But her eyes light up whenever we visit. She is very proud of her granddaughter.
And all this because someone thought education is useful, and helped me send my daughter to school; you know, its not so much about what subjects you study ---its about learning to see a problem, and deciding how to solve it. My daughter went to school, then learned from life itself.
What education gave her was confidence.
Sometimes I really wonder, am I literate, illiterate, educated, or uneducated ? "
I would like to to tag my friends Manju, Padma, and G , and invite them to take part in this Indus Ladies IWD blogfest.