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A Heartbreaking Conversation With a Housemaid

A Heartbreaking Conversation With a Housemaid

She began working for me as a kitchen maid five days ago. “What is your name,” I asked her. “I have two,” she said. “One is the name my parents gave me, the other is what my in-laws gave me. Which one would you like to call me by?”

I chose the shorter name–given to her by her parents. It did not surprise me that she had two names: in India, this is quite a common practice.

She is a hard worker but also a quiet person.

The next day, however, she begins talking to me while I stir milk into my coffee. She tells me she has two children—both partially blind.

“I think it happened because I had them so young,” she says. “In our society, they marry us off young, because daughters quickly start seeming like a burden to their parents. My husband is just one year older than me.  I was 16 when I had my first baby. I had no idea I was pregnant. We lived in the hills of Nepal then, in a remote place. I began bloating, and thought I was putting on weight. Then one day, I felt horrible pain in my stomach, which grew worse by the hour.  My husband said he would call a woman from the village to examine me. I, petrified for some reason, wriggled under our wooden bed, refusing to come out.

While my husband stood there shouting, I felt something slither out of me—under the bed!

By the time I had my second child, I was slightly wiser. But both my children had very white eyes—the blacks in them almost missing. We could not understand why, and thought maybe a ghost had come upon them. Until finally, we moved to a more civilized part of Nepal and they were diagnosed with severely impaired vision.

Their treatment turned out to be forbiddingly expensive, and we realized we would need to earn more—much more—to be able to afford at least some of it.

So we moved to Delhi. My husband works as a driver with a company, and I do household chores. We still could not afford to get the children operated upon or further investigated, so we have had to make do with thick spectacles for them both. They are going to school now, but it is difficult, they can barely see.

It is her concluding words that totally break my heart. Standing next to me, this young, waif-like woman says with a sigh, “But it’s alright. I am now 28…most of my life has passed by…”

I have been feeling a strong mix of emotions since then, ranging from sadness to compassion to an unnamed anger, guilt and more. And I do not know what to do now. I don’t have enough to help pay for her childrens’ treatment. I can and have offered her kind words, hot tea, and a small hike in salary.

Your advice would help.

 

 

 

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Shubhra Krishan

Writer, editor and journalist Shubhra Krishan is the author of Essential Ayurveda: What it is and what it can do for you (New World Library, 2003), Radiant Body, Restful Mind: A Woman's book of comfort (New World Library, 2004), and The 9 to 5 Yogi: How to feel like a sage while working like a dog (Hay House India, 2011).

92 comments

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9:23PM PST on Nov 30, 2013

how heartbreaking

9:11AM PST on Nov 24, 2013

So sad. I hope she gets the help that she needs.

6:38PM PST on Nov 22, 2013

Very sad story. I feel badly for the woman and her children.

1:11PM PST on Nov 21, 2013

One of many sad stories. I agree with what has been said below : maybe fund raising is a good option. It doesn't cost anything to give it a try. Good luck !

5:08AM PST on Nov 21, 2013

Thanks.

2:43AM PST on Nov 21, 2013

She should do fund raising (with profits for herself and the woman): make a good charity appeal (this is a charity case) and send the money to the woman's family.

Advise the woman on how to economise and save money for her children.

Educate her as much as possible. Teach her about informed choices with kids and how much life really is. All women should know. Then she can feel proud, not guilty.

5:31PM PST on Nov 20, 2013

Kick Starter, Go fund me, spread the word here and ask us to tell friends, If anyone knows a celebrity get them to tell others about it as well.

11:01PM PST on Nov 19, 2013

GOFUNDME.COM... PERHAPS IT'S WORTH A TRY! GOODLUCK AND GOD BLESS

6:37PM PST on Nov 19, 2013

very sad :/

3:32PM PST on Nov 19, 2013

Unfortunately there are many sad, sad, stories like this in the world. Now this lady can afford a servant but that is good because it gives her the opportunity to be able to employ this poor young woman and let her have a chance of getting a slightly better life. If she didn't have this employment then where would she and her children be, much worse off I presume? Now just because she can afford a servant doesn't mean she is loaded with money it just means she is better off than the bottom tier. And because it sounds like she has a heart she is asking for advice on where to start looking for constructive help and advice for this family and that is better than a lot of people would offer or do. Now most of the advice on here that has been offered is better or same as I could do I am going to say to this lady...Good-luck and bless you for caring enough to ask for advice. Only you know the truth of the matter and I choose to believe you and wish you find all help required. It requires courage to ask for advice and help especially when there are so many bad apples in our midst and so many who choose not too believe any thing in case it's bogus. But we must always give benefit of doubt and help with advice until we know different because too many souls like this are suffering in every hidden corner of the world.
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