We are living in an area which is now identified by always being under construction. The sounds of chirping birds has conveniently been replaced by bulldozers and diggers. Any vacant area nearby is either under construction or encroached by slum dweller. These slum occupants are the construction workers and their families.
From our balcony I can see both. A sky rocketing building tearing the air and reaching high with 11 floors already been constructed and next to it is a large stretch of tin shaded temporary accommodations of construction workers.
I can see few families living their days out in small 4ft by 4ft temporary residence, with number of members ranging from 4-6. Small kids, hardworking ladies and mostly high tempered, high on alcohol husbands.
Over a period of time, I kind of developed the habit of listening to their conversation and occasional peaks into their daily life from my balcony. I have heard and witnessed one of the lady so often that now I have started believing that I know her personally.
She is short and have a petite figure. She has a high pitch and at least two kids. She knows many rhymes and songs. She gets beaten up often by a male member staying with her, who I think is her husband.
I heard her cries when she was beaten last time. The next morning I saw her attending to her kids with joy and affection. She had not forgotten the pain, but her sense of duty and motherly warmth was keeping her going. Irrespective of her injured self.
I looked at her and brought my focus back to my life. Wasn’t I also attending to my kid even when I had viral fever to deal with?
There is something about being Mother, which connects ladies in different situations, circumstances and geographies.
All mothers are same, by virtue of being mothers.
Around one afternoon, I heard her telling rhymes and singing songs to group of kids. She gathered them from her slum, made them sit on the ground in a circle and they repeated her rhymes. I couldn’t follow the language, but that act brought a smile on my face.
In her limited stock, she tries to keep her and neighbouring kids engage and happy.
Her kids had never gone to school, nor will they ever be. For they keep migrating from one slum to another, from one construction site to another. They don’t belong to anywhere. Still, I have heard… ek…do..teen … May be its her only way to educate them with whatever she knows. May be she has dreams but no means. May be that is what we all mothers do. Sometimes intentionally, and often subconsciously.
In her gestures, I see all mothers. In every mother, I often see her.
While she is busy doing her chores, her son often grabs her from the behind. Tries to hang from her shoulder, crossing arms around her neck. Sometimes she screams while sometimes says something which I don’t understand.. but I see that brings a smile to her son.
Sometimes she puts her saree pallu on her kid’s face and breaks up in laughter. Her kids, join her immediately in that laugh.
She kicks them in the morning and speak loudly in their ears to bring them up from sleep. I can’t see them at night, for there is no electricity where they live, but I imagine her signing some lullaby and putting her kids to sleep.
Someday, I may just visit and tell her that I am guilty of spying her life from my balcony but till then she is a story to me, a character from a known fiction and a mother I know too well.
Amrita Thavrani is a mother to a two year old daughter. Occasionally blogs at amrita.thavrani.com. Say hello to her while strolling at the tweet street @TheSeeSawMother.