Friday, 18 July, 2008

Nirmala’s helplessness

Like so many others, Nirmala came to Mumbai for a better life. She’s from a village in Nepal. When I was looking for a maid, my neighbour introduced her to me. She’s our building watchman’s wife. Though a little skeptical because of her pallid look, I agreed to take her for sweeping and swabbing. Nirmala was a little nosy too. She wanted to know how much rent I was paying and stuff like that.

I asked about her life back in Nepal, and she started talking non-stop as if she was waiting for a chance to speak. It was difficult to understand her Hindi with Nepalese touch. My Malayalam-influenced Hindi didn’t help much. Still, she shared some sad facts of her life.

While as farmers there is no shortage of food in her home, Nirmala says, “we don’t make any money over there, and that’s why we came to Mumbai.” Apparently, they grow all the food required – cereals, pulses, oil seed, and vegetables. They use katha as soap. But no savings. Ironically, they earn money in Mumbai, but need to buy everything. No more self-grown food. Her husband earns Rs 2500/ per month as watchman and a little more by washing cars. Even with Nirmala’s contribution, this is not enough for a family of three. They have a 3-year old daughter staying with them. Elder daughter is with her grand parents.

So Nirmala requested me give her more work and more money. If she does all the house work, what will I do? Then I will have to spent money and join a gym to get some exercise.

Now comes the even more sad part. Nirmala used to work as an agent to promote family planning among the villagers. Oh good, I thought. She continued, “Because of my training, I know my back pain is due to the miscarriage I had a year back.” Now it was my turn to become nosy. I asked her why she went for a third child when she advised her villagers to limit the number of children to two. She replied, in Nepal if a woman can’t bear a son, she doesn’t have any value. She may be thrown out of her house and her husband may even remarry. Sounds familiar! After all, Nepal is our neighbouring country. The plight of woman is the same.

So here’s Nirmala, who tells others about the importance of family planning, but willing to subject her frail body to more pregnancies for a son. And she concluded, “Bhabi, you are lucky. Your husband didn’t remarry even though you don’t have children.” I didn’t know what to say.

8 comments:

Ms Cris 23 July 2008 at 6:50 PM  

Thats just sad and sick! I cant help hoping maybe some part of Nepal does not think such and Nirmala is just part of an absolutely conserved side of the country.

പൈങ്ങോടന്‍ 23 July 2008 at 10:34 PM  

may God bless her with a baby boy this time

NITHYAN 25 July 2008 at 4:11 PM  

The world has more than enough of Nirmalas. Compared with them the life of women in war torn ares is very pathetic.

Jacqueline 26 July 2008 at 1:59 AM  

Hi Bindhu thanks for stopping by my blog. Please feel free to pop by, I am in the midst of creating a technology issue, but it won't be tradional update.

Bindhu 28 July 2008 at 12:15 PM  

Cris, Let's hope so. :-)
പൈങ്ങോടന്‍, Nirmala is not pregnant now. I hope she never get pregnant again, but her husband accepts her as she is. And also hope she'll be able to educate her two daughters. :-)
Nithyan, You are right. War ort palin ignorance, most women are at the receiving end. :-)
Jacquelene, :-)

usha 4 August 2008 at 11:59 AM  

some things never change, do they?

you've got a neat blog here! :)

Bindhu 6 August 2008 at 11:51 PM  

Thanks, Usha :-)

be-free 20 August 2008 at 1:30 PM  

People who live on their land have everything except money.

Pity is, that they think money is more valuable than what they have.

Chasing money, they lose their riches.

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