The Covid Fury And The Reach For The Hope
“Where is she, it has been so long”, Pinki claimed as she washed the dishes. I heard her but chose to ignore her. She was our housemaid nine years back. A lot of memories came back when I heard her voice. She, a mother of two, now has come back, that her kids are a little older and raising them demands a little more money.
My mother didn’t allow me to ignore her the second time and came into my room to take me to greet her. Mothers are constantly at work, showing the sacraments. She was shocked to know that my school days are over and now I have started earning a living.
Easy math humans don’t bother to do to be in denial of the time that passed. We both started working at the same time. Lockdown hit us both while we are trying to find our footing.
Watching her face brought back memories.
I remember the first day she accompanied her mother to work. While her mother washed and cleaned, she just observed from a distance. Soon to be turning sixteen years old, she has to be trained to join her mother. My mother refused to hire her, given her young age but it was futile in the larger scheme of things.
This was the undeniable and unquestionable choice of her fate, a dynamic of society she has not escaped yet.
One day she caught me stealing peeks at her and with all the chirpiness asked my name. As she struggled to get it right, I wrote it down for her. With a deadpan expression on her face, she claimed she doesn’t know how to read. I wondered how could this be. We all can read and write. What does she do with her books? I apologized and wrote down my name in Hindi, the mother tongue of us all. This time, she shied. The chirpy voice’s echo descended as she went quiet.
“Well, why don’t you know how to read.”
“I have to be with my mother all the time. She starts her work at the break of dawn… You know… I don’t go to school as you do”.
“Do you want to learn? I Can show you how to write your name”.
Her smile was enough for permission. I helped her try to hold a pen for the first time. She wrote the letters of her name in both English and Hindi.
Every time she visits the bank and signs on documents instead of using thumbprints unlike the rest of her family. Her dreams are much bigger for her kids. She claims so, I believe they are of a justified size.
Covid pushed her back to the village, isolated and less dream accommodative. Her husband and she were out of jobs and subsequently children out of school. Pinki’s first reaction was reflexive because this is not the first time life has unfairly brought her to square one.
Although now, the waves keep coming, and with the passing of each day the problem grows. The younger boy is elated with the summer break, the older one is getting the whiff of things. He suspects this summer break could be it. Unlike me at that age, he knows that not everyone gets to go to school.
Money will not be an issue for a while for the family. They have smartly saved up and built enough work integrity to reach out to people they have worked for. The issue lies with everyday life when they don’t see their kids going to school. They have built up momentum to ensure it. And Covid has broken it.
Covid is breaking us everyday. Some more than others. Some to an extent to an unrepairable damage. Crying and sitting down to acknowledge the torments is a luxury now. A privilege.