Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Compensating for a gendered world II - A migration story

Kaleidoscope found Tarulata a few years back in 2013 to compensate for the marriage of her daughter by working as a maid to his house (click here). He knows there are gendered stories behind many of the maids he encounters in his world. In West Bengal a lot of them are coming from his neighbouring country Bangladesh. Kaleidoscope is not intending to address any of the larger issues like refugee problem or of late Assam story of National Register of Citizens. He just wishes to share a story of forced migration, just one amongst the millions untold.

The story lets say belongs to "Anna." The name is not from any place in South India, but is from Bangladesh. The name is linked to a Bangla phrase "Ar naa" meaning not any more. Yes, she has a literal name of ending. Her parents tried for a male child but only got females and hence after fifth issue they decided to call it off! There is no prize in guessing what the childhood this Anna might have had.

Anna grew up, never got formal education and ended up marrying a carpenter contractor having considerable amount of ancestral property. Anna, developed all the skills one needs to run a family, manage farming, milk cow, manufacture cowdung cake, and maintain a household. All unpaid and expected job for a woman. She has had two daughters and two sons and meanwhile for some unknown fear her in-laws migrated from Bangladesh to India. Anna had well settled life in Bangladesh in a peaceful village life. She had Muslim friends and there was hardly any thing to discuss about being Hindu and Muslim (I had to ask about it with particular emphasis).

Meanwhile her father-in-law paid a visit and asked Anna to give her daughter to him to India as her mother-in-law wanted to see her. Anna was never agreed but her husband didn't listen to her.

She got a phone call after a couple of years from her daughter begging her to come to India to rescue her as she was put as a maid to one of the rich Marwari households in Lake Town. She asked her husband to make arrangements to go to India and bring her daughter. Her husband having all faith to her in-laws didn't give much attention but reluctantly came to India. He was being told that his daughter is staying at one of their kin's house and not in some Marwari houseld. He believed in that and came back. Meanwhile, her daughter called up her again and this time she told that she doesn't want to live any more if they are not coming to rescue her.

Anna convinced her husband by making a havoc in the village and all their neighbours helped her. Meanwhile because of the social pressure her husband decided to sale off all his properties there and settle down in India as he thought of his ailing parents. He had to sold everything in one fifth price and they made a move in the Bengali month of Bhadra.

"No one moves out in Bhadra month dada! People do not even throw away cats and dogs from home in the month of Bhadra, but my husband because of his ego made that hasty move. Even one of our Muslim neighbours asked us to stay back and spend at least that month and then make the move, but he didn't listen to me..."

Anna came to India with her husband in India with little savings in hand. Settled down in Bongaon with her in-laws and her husband suffered a brain stroke to become paralysed. Its been eighteen years, she is taking care of everything. She raised her daughters and sons. Her rescued daughter now works in some private agency and married to a descent man of her choice. They help her run the family. Her younger daughter is also married and settled. Her elder son is learning to become a electric mechanic and younger one is studying in class IX.

Anna - still manages to smile while she works at Kaleidoscope's home as he and the queen has recently become parents.

Bangladeshi - the derogatory term Kaleidoscope like many others knows are essential components of 'affordable' labour - no matter how harsh it may sound. Bangladeshi - the derogatory term entails millions of stories - larger than life. larger than imagined life!


1 comment:

  1. Perhaps one of those untold stories... perhaps one life, one struggle - perhaps the whole society designed to oppress. So many questions you have raised with this story.