Jaya (51), House help
I was born into a large family. My father, who was working at a shop on Mount Road, remarried after my mom’s death and I have 10 siblings. I studied till Class 3 and dropped out, mostly due to lack of interest and financial constraints.
I hardly remember my school days. My brothers and other step siblings have completed school. I got married at the age of 16, a year after I attained puberty. I have a daughter, who is married and settled in Red Hills with two children.
I raised my sister’s children. She was bedridden for a long time and passed away some years ago. I began working soon after my marriage, as a house help. Now I work in households and offices in T Nagar. I earn for myself and my daughter and granddaughters. I don’t borrow money or seek financial assistance from anyone. One of my brothers is affluent and stays in Kannamapettai. I have never approached him for any help. To be fair to my siblings, my brothers took good care of me before my marriage.
I am also in touch with my step siblings; they have also been nice to me. We visit each other during occasions. I have few memories of my mother, as she passed away when I was still a baby. I feel the void and I think that’s why I address even younger women as ‘amma’. I stay alone in my house in Medavakkam and I visit my daughter over the weekends. I work for almost 14 hours a day and there is a lot of travel, as I take the bus to reach my workplace. I don’t get a single day off from work. It is a lot of physical labour and my legs get swollen due to it. I continue to work hard and hope to make money on my own even as I age.