[Reader-list] one more interview with migrant domestic worker

rohini patkar rohinipatkar123 at rediffmail.com
Tue Jul 13 13:17:24 IST 2004

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  Rekha, 35

Malda district

Why did you leave your village?
We left the village in distress, khane-peene ki takleef

How did you come from the village?
We came by train 

What did you find strange about Delhi in the beginning, had you travelled in train earlier?
I had never seen train, I felt very good during the journey. I kept thinking pata nahi kaisa hoga, I am going, one has to think about these things


How did you pay for the ticket?
I took 1000 rupees loan at the rate of 10 Rs per thousand interest, das taka byaaz

Who was with you when you came from there?
We were two women who came together from the village. That means along with me there was one more girl from the village who came with me

What did you bring along with you?
Hai baghwan (Oh God!) I did not bring anything with me, just one khana banane wala patila (a pot in which one can cook food), that’s it.

Did you come straight to Delhi or you went to somewhere else before coming here?
I did not go anywhere else, I came straight to Indra Vikas

Why Delhi?
Our programme was to come to Delhi, so where else could we have gone?

Did you know anyone in Delhi? 

Since how many years you have been staying here?
4 years, 22 yrs after marriage I came here

Who all are there in the village?
The whole kunba (clan) is there in the village, devar devarni

What about your husband?
He is also in the village- my devrani and my husband stay in the village

How do you keep in touch with them- through phone calls, letters or you have to send money orders?
(Laughs) We usually keep in touch through the phone

How did you feel when you were leaving the village?
I was feeling very bad while leaving the village- one always feels that way when one has to leave their place ‘takleef’. I was also very scared, that I was with a woman- I did not know how she is going to treat me. Aurat ko to dar rehta hi hai


Who helped you when you came to the city initially?
That didi (elder sister) who came with me, they have been staying here for a long time

What is her name?
I do not know
.don’t know whether she is Bengali or Bihari
They have also come to Delhi from the village

Have they been staying here?
Yes they have been here since the past four- five years

When you acme here for the first time, where did you stay?
As soon as I came, I rented a room for myself

Do you know anyone else in Delhi?
No one except her

How did you spend your time when you came here in the beginning?
What all questions are you asking me? (laughs)..For Rs700 I had to work throughout the day, I used to leave in the morning around 7 and I used to come back to my children at home only by 7 or 9 in the evening

How many children do you have?
2 daughters – Mina Puja,  and two sons

What about their father?
He was also here, he has left some years before

What were your initial impressions of the city?
I felt very nice, not scared, maje le rahe hain, (I am having fun) I am going around all over the town, and I have become more aware now about the entire Delhi

Did you also feel lonely?
Very, I used to think “How will I manage, there is no work”

Describe the place where you stayed initially?
Makaan?, I stayed in the room of a pandit, they were from our village. Although they are a different caste than us, In the village everyone is a brother or a sister
. Then I took a room. What else about the room?
Makan ko kaise bataein (laughs)

Did you have toilets, how many?
All of these were big rooms, I stayed there only for few days
..8-10 rooms, five people in about each room, there were two toilets

Who helped you in finding that room?
The father of the person with whom I was staying initially

Did you have to pay anything to them?
No bechara (poor fellow) did not take anything from me
why should I tell lie about him?

Do you still have some loan amount to return back?
Of course I still have to return back about 3-4 thousand rupees money

Why did you have to take that loan?
Because there was no money 

Have you thought of returning the money?
What else, I will have to do mazdoori (labour work) and have to return back that money
I will work

Do you remember any particular incident that reminds you of the initial years in Delhi?
Nothing much happened

Do you go to village?
I have not gone yet
.I want to go very much
but I might loose work if I go

What is the kind of schedule that you have these days?
5 am I get up in the morning
go to toilet leave at around 6, come back at 2 in the afternoon
take bath and eat
have to go again at 4 in the afternoon for work
6 pm I come back

How many homes do you work in?
(Will you kill us after knowing all these details!)
Interviewer: if you want I will stop recording 
if you don’t want to answer I will leave.
I am just joking

If someone kills me it will be for the better
what is the use of my life
there is no fun no enjoyment no khana peena in my life?
I work in 6 homes 
What did you do in village?
Work on the farm
I do not have land of our own
if I had, why would I come to die in Delhi?

What did you do with the money that you earned?
That money used to get spent in proving food for my children. What else? That money was not enough for my children only
that is the problem in villages. Even if you work throughout the day, one cannot earn more then 30-40 rupees 

Did you think that you would work in homes?
No one thinks like that
.I used to think how will I feed my children
.never thought that I would have to work in others homes
I knew that I would work when I go to Delhi. What else
.should I think that I will steal in Delhi?

Why did you choose domestic work?
I did not get work anywhere

How did you feel initially when you started working?
Very bad, it is not good work
go to some one else’s house
disturbing their privacy
you know the husband and the wife may be alone at home
..but we have to 

 we have never done this work and we have to do this after coming here
bura to lagega hi
(it is natural to feel bad)

Did you start immediately working after coming here?
6-7 days after coming to Delhi. Now I don’t mind
. I used to work in one house for 6 months and used to get only 600 rupees
.I used to work throughout the day
..used to cook food or children (outstation work)

Who helped you in getting work?
The same Bengali girl, bechari she helped me a lot

How much do you earn now?
Now I earn upto rupees 2000-2500

How do your employers behave with you?
They are very nice people, they never say anything bad
never share their problems
we work and come back home

Do you have to do extra work ever?
No, not usually. 
I get two holidays in a month
..not every Sunday is a holiday ..clothes they give sometimes ..but never money or medicines
even the clothes are old

Is there something like a testing period with the employers
No, there was nothing like that

Do they ever threaten that they will sack you off?
No nothing like that

How difficult is it to find this work?
Not much difficult
.we get work easily

Do you face some problems at work?
Problems with children
..who will take care of them
..sometimes I fall ill and still have to go to work

Who takes care of work when you are away for work?
I have to take care of them..one daughter stays at home she takes care of the home

some of the things I do before I leave
rest of the things she does
Even if I have problems what will I do
 I still have to work
.they deduct some money if I have missed some day

How do your family and husband think about your working in the homes?
Gareeb aadmi ka kya vichaar? We have to work and eat, even if we feel bad, it does not matter

How do you spend the money that you earn?
I pay rupees 1000 as rent for this room, rest of it is spent in food, clothes everything in same, cannot save anything for more

Has anything in your status changed ever since you have started working?
Yes, some thing have changed a lot
..(laughs) izzat ho gaye hai
.now that I am working bought a house, I have been able to return some debt

What are your dreams?
My sapna is to stay here, but how will I stay here, you tell me? I want to make a home here

I wish you good luck..thank you very much
Theek hai
(it is all right)

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