Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Human Dynamo

A human dynamo!

I am a great admirer of women! Not only for their beauty and charm but for the enormous energy they pack in their often frail(!) bodies- to keep a house going! Most of the housewives, especially in India, are like bonded labourers. They work 24x7x365 days of the year. No breaks and no Sundays off for them. Invariably they are the first to get up and the last to go to bed. In between they do ‘ashtavadhanam’ to keep the house tidy and neat while pandering to the varying needs and demands of the family members.

For anything and everything it is the woman who is looked up to by the others, be it the husband, in-laws or the children. They also have tremendous pain bearing capacity – be it physical or mental. It is amazing!. I know of a woman who is in her early forties, who packs so many activities in her life, I wonder where she is getting her energy from?

Living in a distant suburb of Chennai, she is a thin and skinny woman, less than 5’ tall, living in a joint family with two kids and also employed in an office to supplement the meagre salary the husband brings home. Being the typical Indian housewife she gets up very early, goes through her morning rituals, including cooking breakfast and meals and packing them for the school going kids and office going husband, and leaving enough for the old in laws, who are too old and weak to offer her any help!!

She leaves home at 8.15 am, walks 10 minutes to a bus stop, to take a bus to the railway station where she catches a train to Park Station. Here she changes to another train which takes her to Mylapore station. From the station her office is about 10 to 12 minutes walk. By the time she reaches the office it is 10 am. Rain or shine she has to follow this process.

If the pressure of work at home was not bad enough, the pressure on her in the office is even more challenging.. Being a solo secretary and a wiz kid on the computer to boot, she is also adept at typing in three languages ( English, Tamil and Hindi), all at the same speed! Naturally, everyone in the office who wants to get anything done on the computer is hanging around her for his turn. This includes the big boss, his assistants and the assistants` assistant. With four fellows breathing down her neck, it can be a very intimidating situation. Not so, for the not so young lady! She obliges everybody.

In between if there is a break, because a couple of executives are on tour, you will find her busy typing something from a book or a manuscript- a freelance typing job she has taken up for a fee. To compensate for the 60 odd minutes she spends less in the office, she works thru the lunch time, taking just a five minutes break to gobble up whatever food she has brought from home to keep her going! On some days during lunch time she will vanish from the office for 30 to 40 minutes, ostensibly to go to her bank but my guess is that she has gone to meet some supplier of either sarees or artificial jewellery – a side business she runs to augment her family income, to manage the growing demands of her growing children. Many of the wives of the executives of the office are her regular customers.

At 5 pm sharp, her fingers will be off the computer- by that time she would have finished every job given to her that day! Even if somebody gives her something to type at 4.50 pm, the job will be done before 5pm. Her speed on the computer is incredible. At 5.05 she is ready to leave the office to catch a train at 5.20 from Mylapore station so that she can be home by 7 pm. Once she goes home, she has to continue her household chores, cleaning up the house, cooking dinner, looking after the special needs of the old members until she crashes in her bed around 11 pm. While going through all these, I have never heard her grumble or showing faces to express her displeasure. When the office hired an extra helping hand to provide some relief to her, every one still went to her because they found that the new person was no match to her in terms of understanding and speed. She told the management, not to worry, she can handle all the jobs herself! A human dynamo indeed!

I am aware that the world is full of such hardworking women who make tremendous sacrifices to keep a household going! That is why I admire women!

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