She Wasn’t Made to be a Maid!

Bano

The hierarchy of classes is a significant feature of the Indian society. The upper class, the upper middle class, the middle class, the lower middle class and finally, the underprivileged. This is clearly done on the basis of income generated and the lifestyle of a household.

We often end up looking down upon the people, who belong to the underprivileged category. We judge them based on their clothes, accessories, lifestyle and above all, the work they do. We often judge our fellow beings, based on their profession(No scientist has been able to find out the basis of this, though).

This trait is one of the major causes, for all kinds of pressure people go through, right from being students, then parents of the students and at times being professionals too. More so, one often ends up faking, of having dreams and passion, just to look a class apart.

Just imagine a world, where we can live only to be happy. Where there is no competition to possess things better than others and life can be lived with just basic necessities. A world where there is no judgement, about what your profession is or what your income is, what kind of clothes you have on or what kind of shoes you wear. A world where everyone is respected and accepted, regardless of class or profession.

An idiosyncratic example in this regard is, that of our maids. A peculiar incident provoked me to write this blog.

Yesterday, due to some lift issue in my building, my cook reached my place panting, because she had to climb the stairs. As she entered the kitchen, she was making a lot of hue and cry about the unavailability of the lift and about her daily struggle to get into the elevator and that too after waiting for a long time. Many a time she ends up walking up the staircase.  Due to this, she gets late for work in such high rise premises. Consequently, people get irritated and at times even threaten, to fire her.

Amidst her ranting and panting, my ten year old daughter got a chair for her to sit. She suddenly went mute and smiled at her. After a moment she touched her cheek and said, “Thank you, lekin mai ispe nahi baith sakti.” (meaning- I cannot sit on this)

My daughter immediately asked her, “Kyu?” (meaning – why)

To this she explained, that they are not allowed to sit on a chair or a sofa, at the place where they work. Despite being humbly touched, she refused to sit on the chair and for that matter even refused to have a glass of water, which I offered her, in the same glass that we use. This was quiet thought provoking for me.

What is the need for this kind of  discrimination? Ironically, this is the same woman, who cooks food for you and your family, along with cleaning your home and making your life easy. When you can consume the food made by her, then what is this partiality all about. Are they not human? Can’t we wash the glass after they have had water in it? And where are we going to take our chairs and sofas, if they cannot be used for a human’s comfort?

What we fail to understand is, that these maids, at times earn more than us. Hence there should be no question of discrimination based on income. For eg: my cook charges approximately 10K per house. She works for at least six to seven houses in my building. Her net monthly income is around 60 to 70k, that too tax free.

Moreover she wears decent clothes and looks clean too. Furthermore, she remembers all different tasks for each household. She is up-to-date with latest home gadgets, for faster cooking and better cleaning. In such cases what is the difference between a cook and any other so called classy woman?

This epidemic of classism is worse than racism. Trending woman’s day on every platform may not help, so as to respect woman of every background.

‘Padman’ was an eye opener, showing a common problem of the downtrodden women, who cannot afford a pad. Unfortunately, they could only reach out to women like us who have access to media. But we are already privileged and educated enough to understand our basic needs.

Moreover, if you ask your maids, “Padman dekha kya?”(meaning –  have you watched padman?) you will get a common answer, “Nahi dekha bhabi.” (meaning – No I haven’t). If you ask them, “Kya aap pad istemaal karte ho?”(Do you use pads?) they will end up saying, “Nahi, mujhe pasand nahi.” (meaning- I don’t like it.) At least that’s the answer I got from my maids.

So this woman’s day, let’s honour woman from every milieu and break the stereotypical norms of classism. Let’s show some respect for house-help. After all she was not made to become a maid!