Monday, December 31, 2012

A day in the life of "T"......

The television. The newspapers. Twitter. Facebook. News about Nirbhaya and the protests. Reactions. The strange unexplainable governmental silences. Early Saturday morning brought the news.  

It was too late for the Saturday newspapers, and  then Sunday newspapers were full of it.

My morning household help "T", (who now shares some of "S"'s work , as  the latter is getting on in years"), comes very early, even on Sundays, and saw me immersed in the extra papers we get only on Sundays. She was finishing up, and   I got up to make an extra cup of tea for me and her.

"Did you hear about the girl ? "   Me

"Which girl ?"  "T" , looking puzzled.

"The one in Delhi, who was battling for her life in a Delhi Hospital, and who they sent to Singapore suddenly overnight ?  She died ..."    Me.

"Which girl ? What happened ?  No, I hadn't heard anything about any girl...."   "T" now confused, and asked me what it was all about.

I wondered to myself  how all this did not reach her.  

I told her. 

"T" lives in a slum area in the hills a bit away from us. Works 5 houses a day. Goes home in the afternoon, to cook and clean in her own house, and sometimes  rushes to fill water at the communal tap, if the water has played truant at dawn.  Her two teenage kids , one of them a stepson, come home late after work and evening college, and she stays awake with dinner till they return and study almost till midnight. Dawn heralds the arrival of low pressure water in the communal taps, where she rushes at 4 am. She has an old TV , and still doesn't get time to watch , because with the miles she walks daily to work and back, through questionable neighborhoods,  besides saving transportation costs, tires her a lot, and she rests occasionally when at home.

She had not heard a thing about this.  She gets no newspapers. She, a widow,  keeps to herself in her home, to avoid tangling with inquisitive types with questionable intentions, and is very wary about the goonda element in her locality and the effect they may have on her sons. She once told me she was glad her daughter was older, married and living away in a different better locality, as this was no place for a girl .   

She set down her broom, and listened to the whole thing as I told her that the murderers had been all caught and in prison.  She nodded in support when I told her about the protests in Delhi, and the attacks on protesters. Shocked and stunned.

And I wondered.  How we take so many things like "leisure" for granted. There was a massive churning amidst the populace in reaction to this heinous crime, and we had all the time to immerse ourselves, read, discuss, react and shout about it. 

And "T" lived in an area, where this probably frequently happened and no one was caught and blamed.  Where parents and single parents like her, burned their energies, time and money ensuring their children kept away from the bad influences. They never believed the  custodians of the law, and the leaders , who "T" said came only to "buy" their vote.  And who did nothing when such crimes happened. 

"T" thinks Delhi is something great. It's the capital. So it has to be something great. All the speeches and parades , and awards happen there in glittering splendour.  She sees fleeting glimpses when the sons put the TV on, or when she notices a photo in a newspaper that was used to wrap up something from a shop. She doesn't care to know the names of any of the big folks in Delhi. Or what they do.  

I told her they were now thinking of making the laws much stricter, and the work places and transport safer for women. 

And she said " I hope this trickles down to us in my lifetime.  Every alternate house in my locality, has drunkard husbands, and sons who boss around, demand things, and even slap their own when their demands are not met. For women with daughters it is even worse. Who do we complain to ?"

And I thought,  there must be millions of women like T , completely uninformed about what had happened to shake up a lackadaisical nation, the fight of a brave girl. 

They probably understand what happened much better because they see it everywhere around them. They prioritize their own family's needs and work around those, constructing their own diversions across dangerous paths.  

They don't argue about life imprisonments and  death penalties and pardons.  They have nothing to say about 1 man commissions.  But they understand anger. And its management.  It is a skill developed without formal education. Passed on to the children, carefully and strictly.

T tells me she wont be able to come the next day, as she needs to go to the kid's college to pay fees. She doesn't send the teenage kid  with large sums of money, as there are elements in the neighborhood who are known to threaten the kids and steal it.  (And these "large" sums are those we spend on something, saying how cheap the thing was on sale.....)

One more day over. One more step in life successfully  completed. 

I wonder how many more like T .  I wonder how their lives will change. Or will they ?



  1. Touching post aunty... so much of population lives like this... compromising on the basics that we take for granted... and when things happen to them, they move on without even expecting justice...

    Our leaders really need to wake up, stop the apathy. Will it ever happen?

  2. You are so right, we live such insular lives, take so many things for granted. And your closing lines really make one reflect - how can one bring about that change? Who is responsible for bringing the change? There are so many questions but we at our individual levels ought to do what we can....

  3. Thinking of you
    as this year ends.
    All you special poems
    you have written
    about one who lives at the edge of the woods.
    Thank you
    and the best of wishes to you and yours...

  4. This is the question that haunts me too. We fight for lifestyle rights, to wear what we want, to go where we please and do what we want, while for these invisible people the fight for every day life is itself an enormous one. The divide is growing and there is no chance of it ever getting bridged. If only each one of us took time to reflect on their lives, find some empathy in our hearts!

  5. It resonated so much with the times we live ...the ever widening gap between the haves and have nots ...the latter taking all the pain and humiliation in their stride and just hoping for their next meal ...

  6. I was shocked that one of my best friends had not heard of it when I mentioned it to her this morning. I have followed the story, been horrified but avoided details until yesterday. When I read more about what had been done, I told my friend to not go looking. In a way we need to know, but in another way sometimes it haunts us and it's hard to not think of it anytime we stop for a moment. I wish I knew less about it while at the same time I hope more can be done to prevent more such stories. They have happened in the United States too. It seems brutality and violence are rampant right now, as though it's an ugly time and humans already predisposed to doing evil seem more inclined to do it. I don't know what we can do about it-- except say we in the United States, many of us, feel sympathy for what this costs your country and horror for that poor woman who suffers no more, whose life was cut so short. It hurts us all.


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