Cherish that cup of tea

It’s been a few months that I have come back after a decade’s stay in the USA. One of the significant differences between the two countries is cheap labour in India. So you get all sorts of help for your household chores. Some of the major differences I have noticed is that even though this is an unorganised sector – each one of these workers is on their own, trying to set their own limits and rules, trying to set their own demands. It’s not like you are paying them for menial jobs so they can be at your beck and call. They are very much helping us just as we are helping them find opportunities to sustain their livelihood. Shuttling between my parent’s and my in-laws’ house, I have had the opportunity to interact with them on a more personal level. Not sure why, but I have been interested in their stories. It would be an understatement to say that these stories have shaken me.

One young lady was forced upon by chance to be a widow with four kids as her husband decided to end his life one day. She was in an interior village of West Bengal then. We as a society, probably still look down upon a woman without a man by her side. This woman didn’t care much about all that. All she did was made sure her children were safe with her mom and brother, came down to Delhi to look for work. And now she works for four-five houses – cooking and cleaning. After about a decade of hard work, three of her kids are well settled – the boy has a job in Pune, two girls have been married off. One kid is still studying with her grandma. I am not sure how educated they are – but who cares. And don’t think she does too – she doesn’t need to. She has given her kids the single most important piece of education that she needed to – to take charge in life if situations are not in your favour and create a life that you want.

Another lady’s husband fell off a building in construction. My heart fell out for a moment; I was flabbergasted at the ease of how she was mentioning it – not because she didn’t care, but because she had overcome it. I am not sure of the exact type of injury but she said it took him almost five years to resume some sort of work now. Meanwhile, she has been holding the fort. I was impressed when she told me a specific time that she can come to work because she has to go drop her kids to school. My respect for her grew manifold as she put her kid’s education on priority.

Each time you hear such a story, it dawns on you that women of today are no longer the abla naari of yesterday. These are just two small snippets from a sector where we imagined that they were dependent on fate. But in reality, we all can find women around us who are the captain of their ship. They are strong and confident enough to lead and take their men along with them – only if men would like to join. They don’t need liberation or some movement to take them across that dark alley anymore. They just need to be respected, cherished and a little less judged as they learn to focus on themselves a little bit more, to fill their cup first, to find themselves amongst the gazillion roles they play. We have come a long way and the road ahead is only bright – but let’s not forget to sip that cup of tea at leisure. Happy Woman’s Day!

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What are your experiences? Where do you think we as a society have landed? What’s missing?

5 thoughts on “Cherish that cup of tea”

  1. What a beautiful piece of writing, a kind, thoughtful and graceful affirmation of women power and dignity! Love the idea the piece revolves around: fill your cup first (just as “put your mask on first before you help your child” in case of an emergency). You are a better person when you teach yourself to make time for yourself; learn to think of yourself if you don’t want to end up spent, resentful and powerless. As someone who has children, I appreciate how this piece focuses on a woman’s primary role, after that cup of tea, as a mother. It is an important role we play not just in the lives of our children but in shaping the society. In the vein of this article:

    Strong Women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good effort. Indian society has myriad colours. Women , no doubt, foundational pillars. A lot more is required to be done for them at all levels.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed reading your article. I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your clearly written and thought-provoking article. The way you composed it was so engaging that I lost all track of time and read it 3 times as I loved that way.

    Like

  4. Thought-provoking piece, Shikha. In my local situation, my school, it has always seemed to me it is women who hold the institution together. Uhh, and at home too.

    Like

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