Just over a month back, I was having really busy days and no help at cleaning so my husband hired a cleaner. The young woman came across neatly dressed and quite unemotive. I always try to have a little chat with anyone who works for me, works with me or those I work for. You can learn a lot about a person when you talk about life. You get to know a certain something about them. Usually people like to complain but the way they talk is how you know them. Some people are angry, some hopeless, some amused and some bitter. I personally don’t like bitter ones, they take away a lot of positivity and do not respect their own work.
Her first day, I asked her a lot many questions while I gave instructions. She came back with minimal answers. Sometimes, just a plain nod. Not a blank one though. When that happens, you know you should shut up. So in the last month, all I got to know about her was that she has two kids a girl aged 4 years and a boy aged 18 months. And the little boy somehow fell on a sharp object, which pierced through his head but after some treatment, stitches and bandages he was doing ok. She took 1 day off to take the kid for check up.
That was it. I would occasionally check on her kid, she would reply with a minimal answer and showed up on time everyday.
Then two days ago, she didn’t. I called her, she didn’t pick and I let it go. Everyone deserves an off every now and then. Yesterday, she didn’t show up again. I figured that it could be her kids, briefly worried and prayed for their wellbeing and got on with my day. I thought I’ll call her if she doesn’t show up on Monday.
This morning, the bell rang and she was there. I asked her if everything is ok. She told me that her daughter was complaining about a stomach ache and she kept ignoring, thinking it will subside. She was too upset about the girl not eating properly for last 1 month and loosing a lot of weight. But she thought it must be because the father left a couple of months back. So she would scold her and make her eat. Then Saturday, the girl fell on a side after eating and began to cry. After rushing her to the nearest hospital, she discovered the little girl has 4 stones in her kidney. And by this time, her voice began quivering. Then she said, “I am 27 and I have birthed 8 children, 6 of them died. What will happen to these 2 didi?” I could not help but hug her. And the moment I did, she began to cry out. I held her for sometime, then asked her to buck up and have some tea while educating her with simple ways to stay cautious.
My husband rushed to get the medicine, I filled her some bottles of filtered water to carry back home. And told her to take all the clean water she wants. Also, to let me know if she needs my help or some days off. Ordered a ceramic water purifier for her which costs only ₹800 for 16 litres of clean water every day for many years. But throughout this, I couldn’t even imagine the agony of a woman losing little children to dirty drinking water and malnutrition. We are so lucky…to have options for what we eat and drink…to live in clean houses…to have education and educative tools at our disposal.
While leaving she smiled at me for the first time and I realised how lonely these strong women get, that they cry over hugs. Probably all that this world needs is kindness. And clean water for everyone.
PS: In case you too are interested gifting someone clean water, you can go for everpure water purifiers. They are pocket friendly and ISI approved. All it takes is one less movie trip.