A Day in the Life: Madhuri Rathod (Part 1)

A Day in the Life: Madhuri Rathod (Part 1)

Champa - Madhuri photoThere are so many people in Mumbai. Who are they? How do they live? How would they change their community, this city, the world? Through conversation and photos, we share with you a day in the life of a Mumbaikar. 

This week, we feature Madhuri “Dixit” Rathod, a sharp, charismatic housemaid. Although only 22 years old, she has been married for the past seven years—we began our conversation there.

Madhuri Rathod: Amongst Gujaratis, child marriage is more common – that’s what happened for me and when I understood [what was happening], then I accepted it – I’m still accepting it. But my way of life now – it’s good. Our community is good, people have respect for each other; if there’s child marriage and the people want to get divorced when they get older, that decision is accepted. So that’s how my life has been…

Badal Ja!: What’s your daily schedule?

MR: 6 am — Get up, make tea, give I get up at 6 o’clock, make tea, give everyone in the house chai and breakfast, and do the housework – sweeping and mopping, washing the dishes, help make food or do the cooking.

7 am — I go do housework in other people’s houses.
8:30 am — I go back home – our flat is on the first floor and we don’t get water. We live in the chawl housing system, so we have to fill water down below…
10 am — I wash clothes, cook food, feed everyone
1:30 pm — Having eaten, done the dishes, I again go to work. In one house, I do cooking, in another sweeping and mopping.
5 pm — I go back home, cook food, wash dishes, sweeping-mopping, feed everyone.
9 pm — I put out the beds – there are five of us and the  house is small, so we put out these cots – then 10 o’clock, we go to sleep. Every day is like this!

BJ!: So in your daily life, as you’ve just described it – what’s the best aspect and what’s the worst aspect?

MR: The best is—I like to do work. But, if after doing work, anyone criticizes, I really don’t like that. And this happens often in my house. After I do the work – you don’t have to applaud me, but you can acknowledge, yes, she did all this. In our house, it’s the opposite: jo kam karta hai, voh marta hai [whoever does the work gets condemned].

BJ!: These days, what’s most prominent in your mind, what are you thinking about?

MR: These days, this issue is running through my mind: Will my IVF [InVitro Fertilization] be successful or not? Because these big doctors, they mostly told me, “We don’t think it will be possible. Because only one of your [fallopian] tubes works. With only one tube, it can work. But the best thing is if the sperm count should be high, and my husband’s is very low…

But when I talked with [my new doctor] Dr. Gupta, he said that there’s a 75% chance. So I got a little excited – he says 75%, so I’ll do it. For the last four years, I’ve been running around [trying to get pregnant] – go here, from this medicine it’ll happen, from ayurvedic medicine it’ll happen. The less money it takes, the better – because I can’t bring a lot of money.

Money is needed to run the house, to buy medicine. My husband does housekeeping – so his salary is only 4-5 thousand. From that, we can’t cover our expenses. We can take a loan, but we’ll have to repay it at some point…And now, since 6 months, I’m going crazy dealing with these medicines. Because medicine is 7-8 thousand – so I can’t imagine how we’ll handle it – coming and going, if someone comes to the house, we have to give them something…I get a little sad.

God, in which place, in which world has he placed me? But in Gujarati we say, “Agle janam ka jo hisab hai, main is janam mein chukana pardega” [The debt from the last life has to be settled in this life]. So thinking this, I think that I must have done something in my past life, regarding children. So, I have to pay.

Still, I think, I’ll raise the necessary money, I’ll have my child, I’ll put him for proper schooling, that too will take money, they won’t do mopping, sweeping, dishes, like I do; in old age, they’ll support me. So that’s how I’ve been thinking, but we’ll see how my fortune is written, is hisab se lagenge [from that account it’ll happen].

BJ!: In your opinion, these days, what are the biggest challenges facing women?

MR: {Fast, rapidly} The biggest challenge for women is izzat sambhalna [to protect their honor].

Those places where there are more people, more public, those places have more rape. Like in Delhi, Matunga road – those places where people are coming and going – rape has also started to happen on the train. Having raped the person, they can just throw them…

So, seeing this, my mind weeps, God, why have you given so much sorrow to women? And the husband has to do so little – earn money, give it, and that’s it. And we have to handle the whole house, the whole family…

BJ!: So for women to be able to protect their honor, what should happen – in the world, or in society?

MR: Safety should be increased – like, around these rape cases, for four-five days, there’s a policeman in every coach. But after four or five days, the news dies down, no-one comes to check, and they get lazy. It’s like this. So, for women, safety should be increased….

→ Read Part 2