I feel pain, an intense pain, when I see children begging. I never give them cash, always afraid that they will know the taste of easy money at this age when they should be learning that begging is not a dignified thing to do, that education is the better option and if one is educated, there are wide choices available out there in the world. But at this tender age, I see them at every signal, running from one parked car, to another auto, to another car, some of them selling flowers, some of them sell books and some of them only beg, peeping through the glass window, putting on the pathetic face and asking for cash of which they may not even comprehend its value. Many of them might kidnapped and abused, their childhood scarred forever.
But then what can one do??
In my life time, I have taught many maids to read and write, teaching them simple mathematics, to read and write alphabets, to write their name, to be able to write phone messages and numbers for their employers. There have been many maids who have learnt a lot and have migrated with their employer because they are able to read and write. But most of the time I have been disappointed. I spend money buying all the necessary books and stationary but they lose interest and are not sincere. Some of them are plain stupid and I have to really try very hard to make them learn some simple things. And most of them have interfering parents who are always suspicious of my willingness to teach.
I once had a maid who used to bring her 9-year-old daughter to work. Most of the work she would ask her daughter to do, with her only supervising her daughter’s work. I would feel that she is taking advantage of her young child and thought it was not very nice thing to do. But the kid excelled in all the chores that she did. She washed utensils, swabbed floors and did all other work efficiently. She was an enthusiastic learner too and I saw great potential in her. I wanted to educate her and asked for her mom’s permission.
Her mother was very pleased. She suggested that she stay with me and help me with the household chore while I could teach her whenever I could. The next day, she moved into my house and into my private zone. Now I am very uncomfortable with live-in maids and I prefer to do odd jobs on my own. I don’t like to take any service from anybody and especially not from this 9-year-old kid. Anyway, now I was committed.
Her mother enrolled her in a school and I got for her all the necessary things that she would require like school uniform, books, stationary and all her personal items that she would require for her day to day activities. I was feeling like her prodigal mom. I fussed over her food, making sure that she was ate well, took up her school work and doted over her. She would wake up early morning, get ready for school, come back and study. Personally, she was of no use to me; the only work she did in my house was to help me with chopping of vegetables and dusting the furniture. All her free time, she would spend in her personal grooming or watching TV. But her mother thought she was doing me a great favor by getting me a live-in maid.
As the days passed, it was becoming very cumbersome for me to have this girl in my house. I couldn’t leave my house unless I chose to take her with me. Her family would visit her at all odd hours of the day. Her TV habits were giving me a head ache. I had lost my personal space. Since she was a normal girl, just like the children her age, she would have her temper tantrums when the things would not go her way. At once such occasion, I scolded her and she decided to go on hunger strike.
She just refused to eat.
What can one do if the person is stubborn? I was not about to apologize to her for the scolding which was due and proper. Sometimes it is important to point out the flaws in the person to show them the right track.
I tried to coax her to eat but no cajoling helped.
She skipped dinner and the breakfast the next morning. When her mom came to work, she complained about me and accused me of starving her.
What followed next is too messy to relate.
Till date, I have never again invited any maid for free tuitions nor do I go out of my way to offer my help to anybody. I would rather help in an institution voluntarily and work at my own leisure. Sometimes it is best to leave things as they are.
What can one do?