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The story of Lila and her courage

She had been working at our apartment building for months and still I never knew her name. Yes, our paths did come across but I seldom talked to her or even gave instructions. They way she wished to clean and wash, was OK with me. One day Mrs. Bannerjee who lives on the third floor (I think) met me on the stairs and asked, "Did Lila come to work today?"  I do not know the Bannerjees well enough, and her striking a conversation seemed odd to me. I just said a no and moved on.

It was only when I had entered my apartment did it strike to me, Lila. So her name was Lila. Maybe the watchman had told me her name, when I had hired her. I was not even paying attention then. All I needed was my apartment clean, my utensils and crockery washed.

As if on the cue, she knocked and entered the apartment. I couldn't help but notice that her eyes were puffy and red.Now as you know by now I have a very impersonal relation with the maid. Its not about employer employee thing, its just that I am far too occupied in mornings to talk to anyone leave aside the lady whose name I never bothered to remember.

What do you do, when the only other person in the room has a sad face? You get curious and ask the story.
Lila was married off at 16 to a guy from the neighboring village. A couple of years later, Ramesh her husband brought her to the city where he worked as a driver. She took up the job as a maid not by choice but because Ramesh forced her to. He never failed to explain to her how much economic burden she was on him. She took up the odd jobs and struggled on her own as the babies arrived. For whatever she earned, most of it went to feed not her children but Ramesh's liqor habits.
I guess you now know what followed. The beatings when she refused to part her hard earned money.  Exploitation of women for money is not new in India. We have been perfecting and improvising this art for centuries.

Except that her Lila showed exceptional courage. Not minding the taunts of her society, the snide remarks of her relatives,  she threw her husband out of the tiny house she lived in. This room was given to her by our building manager to live in. Soon Ramesh had quit his job to enjoy the perks and money his wife earned.

I remember what she told me that fateful morning, " I love my husband. I love him very much. But I love my children more. I love my work more than my marriage. You know why saab? I get so much respect, money and all of my employers are so nice to me. I work hard and and can educate my children. Is this wrong?"
I never answered that question and still feel guilty of not being able to express my admiration for the courage she had. At that moment, someone called me on my phone and soon I was immersed in the hustle and bustle of my work. Now I keep giving her unused diaries and pens I get from work for her children.

I really salute this woman here for rising up the life's challenge and taking a decision on her own strength.



This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus“.

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