This is Anjari. She is my maid’s niece helping me for the last month or so till my regular one is visiting her native village.
She is younger than me. Has a 10 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. Both her kids stay with their grandparents somewhere in rural India. She lives with her husband in the big city in a tiny one room dwelling and works in various apartments and houses doing household work. She rings my doorbell every single day at 6.05 am. Including weekends. She leaves exactly at 7 am. The house is spotless after she leaves. She does tasks that are not on the pre-decided list. She scolds me for leaving things around unattended and folds away my clothes. She hates that I don’t do my bed after waking up and sneakily fixes it if I am not in the room. She gives me cooking tips while we drink tea. She thinks I’m beyond stupid to live alone. She wakes up at 4 am, cooks, cleans and leaves for work. Walking. I am her first job of the day. I live 4 kms from her little house. It has been 1-2 degrees Celsius in the mornings with winds of 30 kmph for the past 2 weeks. Its dark till past 7.00 am. The water is beyond chilly and she washes dishes. She hasn’t complained once about it. She likes her tea scalding hot and makes a face at me if it cools down before she arrives. She works till 8 pm, goes home and cooks for her husband and washes clothes. She sleeps at 11pm. She and her husband have managed to buy a little bit of land in her village and they have built a permanent house with 2 rooms for her in-laws and kids. Maybe in a couple of years, they can buy more and start a bit of farming. She hopes to see her kids in December this year. It was 2 years ago that she met them.
When I asked her if it was okay if I took her photo, her face broke into a happy smile. She removed her shawl, smoothed her hair and said she will stand in front of the light so that the photo would come out right. There wasn’t daylight yet. But couldn’t stay still and smile without bursting into laughter.