She is late this morning. She isn’t usually. Today morning she keeps aside just for me. But she is late today. It is a cold winter morning but my coffee is still warm and a little into the distance of the road ahead I see a tall thin woman walking hurriedly towards my house.
I go downstairs, open the door and let her in. In the lawn we sit, me with my back towards the sun, she with her face in the light. I hand her a tissue –
“You missed a spot there on your face”
She isn’t embarrassed. Why should she be? Being embarrassed by your job if it is not a good one, is a middle class concept. We go over the alphabet and I give her a notebook to write down the words I have written, ten times over. Just like how we learned when we were children by mimicking and repeating.
Her children join us a little later. I help them with their homework. While the mother works on the basics her children are writing essays on festivals of India.
After the session is done, she usually stays back and we have tea. Education is the only way to rise in this country, she often tells me. My kids will have a better, more comfortable life. They will not have to worry about the daily number of customers, or be dependent on a daily income. You live so nicely in a big nice house. I want them to live like you, worry about better things than their next meal.
What is it about humans that always makes them want better things?
Survival, I suppose.
In the past three months that she has been seeing me, I have taught her the alphabet, she can read words now, we are moving to simple story books and soon I hope she will be as good as her children. I have helped her open a savings account, she deposits one fourth of her erratic monthly income in this account. I do my bit too, I cut out on one outing and add 1k to her account, that money means nothing to me but to her world it makes a lot of difference. Every now and then I buy things for her kids – story books, colouring books, puzzles, lego sets. All children should be surrounded by avenues they can creatively alter.
Education in our country isn’t a birth right, it is a privilege. Some of us, most of us can accept inequality as a law of nature, they do not seem to perturbed that only a section of the society has the privilege to have a mid-life crises or to face an existential crisis or that only some of us are able to have to knowledge to self-diagnose ourselves with depression. If you can read this and understand it I only ask you to spare it a little thought and do some good with your privilege. Go ahead, add some meaning to your life, find fulfilment, make a difference.
Why don’t we see this in the news more often?
My note – A few months ago the High Court of Mumbai lifted the ban from dance bars in the city. They have become operational again. I have a few questions, if anyone from the press can help me with these, it would help all of us get a better insight into the lives of the humans who work at these places –
- Who are these women who work in the dance bars?
- Age range?
- Educational qualifications?
- Parental/Family Income, a little on their background?
- Work of these women
- Hours worked every day?
- Job description / nature of work ?
- Monthly income ?
- Other benefits – insurance, travel allowance etc? ( no I am not kidding you)
- Management of work for these women
- Who are their bosses?
- Or managers or agents? Do they have agents?
- Do they have protection? What if a visitor to the bar misbehaves with them?
- Quality of Life
We think we know the answers to the above questions but those answers are mere speculations. To have real numbers for the above would be a great starting point to understand a stratum of society which exists in parallel with our own. Maybe then I will be able to tell better, real stories.