Notice for the Womens day celebrations in my society read: “Nominate a woman who inspires you. We will have a lucky draw to choose the winner for a gift hamper.”
I asked my 16-year-old daughter whom to nominate. “Nominate Rehana Aunty!” she suggested. I was surprised because Rehana is our domestic help. But, the reason she gave was simple, yet I am sure not thought of by most of us:
Rehana is a working mother, with 4 kids. The younger one is about 8 and the eldest 17. All of them go to school. Her husband has taken another wife leaving all 4 kids to her.
Rehana lives in an 8 by 8 feet room, with her kids. The toilet is a shared one at a distance. Before coming to “work” she makes lunch for her kids, cleans the house, gets the kids started on their day, and then walks about 3 kms to our home. Still, she is rarely late for work because if she is late we all will get late. It is a trigger effect as you will realise. And, if she is late she might lose her job, which obviously is not an option for her… she is the sole earning member in the family.
After work she goes straight back home, sometimes talking to someone like herself…but only if they are also walking the same way. She cannot afford the luxury to sit and talk to anyone. There is a lot of work still waiting for her at home so, no networking, socialising, or party, or “me time” for her, ever. Still, she is always smiling and laughing, and proactively doing all odd jobs that we request her to do. And, often we have seen that if she hears aazan at a distance while working she will cover her head and thank Allah for all that she has got.
“Isn’t she a real inspiration for all career oriented women, Mom?”
asked my young one, who is on way to being a working woman herself in a few years, as she prepares herself to be an engineer. And, I thought how right she was. We, with all our luxuries, and access to helpers like Rehana, still get grumpy and weighed down by our responsibilities. We continue to demand some destressing, some me time, some free time, some entertainment and what not. In the process we often make everyone around us feel guilty for burdening us with work.
I silently vowed to try and live life with more gratitude. Afterall, I have a lot more going for me than Rehana has! And I also sent a prayer up for Rehana who has unknowingly instilled an attitude of satisfaction and tolerance in my daughter. Whether or not Rehana wins the lucky draw, she surely deserves a lucky hamper from me.