A Day in the Life: Madhuri Rathod (Part 2)

A Day in the Life: Madhuri Rathod (Part 2)

There 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 their life. 

Here is Part 2 of our two-part interview with Madhuri Rathod. (Read Part 1)

Madhuri is a 22-year-old housemaid in Mumbai. We left off when Madhuri was discussing women’s safety and how challenging it is for a woman to keep her honor.

Badal Ja!: When you were little, which women did you look to for inspiration?

Madhuri Rathod: First, my mother. My father, sometimes he hit her. So when we were little, she took us to her mummy’s house, he also came, they fought, we came back. She bore all this – and she didn’t know how to do any other work – meaning, she’s from the village, so she used to do farming. But this work – house-work – village people put less attention on that – because they have to clean and take care of the entire field! So mom earned less…We were going to school – so one day, someone came and told my mother to go for a job washing bathrooms.

So then mama would clean houses, bathrooms. Cleaning so many bathrooms, using Harpic and acid, she got asthma. Because of this, now mama can’t work as much – but still she’s working. And from cleaning all these bathrooms, puri zindagi nikaali (her whole life has passed) – our studies, our weddings, even our jewelry, she paid for it all from that salary…

Champa - Madhuri photo 2

BJ!: What happened to your father?

MR: He was earning. But he used to spend all the money betting on horses, staying with his friends. And he pawned off Mom’s jewelry, until finally there wasn’t money for food. So Mom would go to people’s house, saying I have three little kids, for two days I’ve only been able to feed them biscuits and milk, what will I do? And people would give money, from that mom would feed us. Even our neighbors wouldn’t give anything, because they were scared of papa…

BJ!: What’s your mother’s age now?

MR: Forty five. And from a young age, she was taking care of everyone…I also got married at 13. And from 16 [after completing 10th standard and moving to her husband’s house], everything started – sexual relations with my husband, taking care of my mother-in-law, taking care of this, taking care of that…All this responsibility. And I didn’t understand why everyone pointed out all my mistakes all at once…they would yell, “You don’t know how to do this, you don’t know how to do that.” So I was sad. And I said, “I don’t know how to do this.” And they were criticizing, “Her mom and dad didn’t teach her anything.” So I said, “If you knew the entire history of my mom and dad, then…”

BJ!: If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be and what would happen?

MR: No, now I don’t want any change. Because eight years have passed since my wedding, so now I don’t want to change anything – just that I’ll have kids and that everything will be alright. It’s not that life should always be happy. However much we laugh in life, we also cry. In life, sadness and happiness are constants. Whatever is – hamara apeksha nahin hai ki is se acche mile (I don’t expect better things). I’ll accept things happily as they are, as my fate.

If I’ve done something [bad], then people should tell me – I’ll bear it and continue to grow. I don’t think, “Why did God do this to me? It shouldn’t be like this, my life should be better.” God can’t give us friends, only we can give ourselves friends. Or, if I’ve done something wrong, then that’s why things aren’t going well.

BJ!: If you could change one thing about the world or your society, for yourself or for others, what would it be?

MR: Whatever happens, it’s because of one’s fate, luck, and through God. We can’t change our lives – we can’t stop those rape cases…

BJ!: Hmm. But change – we’re included in change too.

MR: We’re included – humko himmat rakhni chahiye (we should be courageous). We should never give up our courage – “I’ve been raped, so I’m going to commit suicide, I’m going to die” – these thoughts need to change. And if [they do], women will move forward. They shouldn’t leave their courage – courage is the biggest thing. If we lose that, then we’re nothing.

BJ!: Ok, some fun questions. What’s your favorite food?

MR: {laughing} My favorite food…dal-chaval…It’s easy; for cooking, that’s my favorite. And I like pani puri and chaat.

BJ!: What’s your favorite song?

MR: My favorite song – {starts to sing} “Aati rahengi bahaaren, jati rahengi bahaaren, dil ki nazar se duniya ko dekho, duniya sada hi haseen hai” (the world’s delights will always come and go, look at the world with the heart’s gaze, the world is always beautiful.) It’s an old song – my life has been like this. Happiness, sadness, accept it, continue to grow. Don’t ask God – why is this happening? What’s happening, it’s happening correctly. And what should happen, it’ll happen. We should think positive thoughts, not negative thoughts. We should think positively and everything will go well.

Read Part 1