Valli (55), Domestic help
I have been working as a domestic help to support my family since I was 15 years old. This is the grind and I am used to it. My life has become a bit easier in recent times with most homes having washing machines and a kitchen sink. Previously we had to squat on the floor to do the dishes. I am a resident of JJ Nagar housing board. My life took a turn for the worse with the passing away of my mother when I was 13 years old. My siblings and I were taken in by our aunt.
However, I did not have the chance to attend school as I was forced to work as a house help to support the family. My aunt kept us fed and provided us with a roof but we also had to work every day and did not get any of our salary to keep. At 19, I was married to a much older man against my wishes. He was an alcoholic who beat me every day. My husband left me for another woman soon after we had our son. Eventually, he passed away due to complications from alcoholism. I was widowed at 24. Since then I have been supporting my family. My son dropped out of school after Class 8 as I took ill and was unable to work for a few months. I wish my son has been able to complete his education and get an office job. But I was very sick and he couldn’t see me suffer so he dropped out to do odd jobs. He now drives an auto and makes decent money.
I live with him and my daughter-in-law and their two children. With my son taking over most of the household responsibility, I work to provide some supplementary income. My son keeps telling me it is my time to rest now. But I want to contribute whatever I can to the family. I have diabetes and hypertension, so I cannot work long hours or in many houses like I used to. I have now reduced the workload and I work in two houses. I earn a monthly income of Rs 4000, which I give to my son to help with the expenses. While it has been a tough life, I am grateful for the support of my son and daughter-in-law. They know the hardships I have gone through and they look after me very well. I am happy now.