Illiterate does not always mean uneducated. Life can also educate us. And, this is something you can be reminded of from the most unexpected sources at times. I was reminded of this from my domestic helper. She is illiterate, but not really uneducated. Life educated her enough to give me a commentary on social fabric from a domestic worker who had never been to a school.The context of the conversation was the fact that she announced to me the marriage of her daughter, and asked for loan.
Me: Why are you marrying off your daughter at such a young age? She is just 16. You should educate her.
She: My husband did not allow her to study after class V, even though she is very bright. So, what else to do? Marriage is the only thing.
Me: But, why? Your sons are still in school. You are ready to educate them. So, why not the daughter too?
She: As per my husband there is no need to study as she did not have to work. He thinks girls of good families do not go out to work. It will be the husband’s duty to provide for her.
Me: (Silent with many thoughts going on in my mind….To educate a girl would mean money. So, marry her off in the name of “Good family”.)
After 30 seconds:
She: But, it is Ok for him if the wife goes out and does menial cleaning jobs. Then he forgets about what happens in good families…After all he needs money for his liquor as well as to care for so many children that we have. In my case, it is not his duty to provide for me. I have no problem in working to earn money. But if I was educated things may have been better. My father had the same reason to marry me off, and I know the same fate awaits my daughter now.
I really could not do anything except advise her:
“If she ever wants to work, bring her to me. I will train her to be a baby sitter. After Baby Sitter’s training, she will get a better, and more respectful job after that.”