It was a Monday that day too. It was a day when I was at home, at peace and enjoying my leisure time. Browsing through sites, I felt at peace when there was a knock at the door. I got up to find Shamina at the door. Shamina is an old lady about 60 + working as a maid to my neighbour. ‘Did madam leave key with you’, she asked.
‘No, but you have a key, right?’, I asked her back.
‘Yes but I forgot to bring it….Its alright I will go back home and bring it’, she said.
‘Where do you live?’, I asked her. She mentioned a place quite far.
‘You’ll walk?’, I asked.
‘Yes, no buses ply on this route’, she said and turned.
‘Wait, I said and picked up my car keys.
She sat silently by my side. ‘Where does your husband work?’, I asked.
‘I don’t know’, she said and remained silent.
Some days later I met Sheetal my neighbour on the stairs, it was not often theat we met and so started talking. I told her about the day Shamina forgot her keys.
‘Oh, Shamina is my strength’, Sheetal said, ‘You know how often Ricky falls sick. It is Shamina who looks after him. ‘She is very silent and sad, why so’, I asked.
‘She had a daughter who was detected with leukaemia at the age of 12. eventually she died. Her husband left her soon after that taking her passport with her. So she is left here stranded’, Sheetal said.
But surely the embassy can help, if you want I have some friends in the Indian Ladies Association who can help’, I said.
But she does not want to go back to India. It seems that her family outcast her when she married against their wishes. Anyways her parents have died and her brother does not want any relationship with her, so where will she go’, Sheetal said.
Visions of people stranded like her rushed through my eyes. In addition there are those who came in the ruse of a better life but discovered otherwise. The laundry wallah who is a graduate and came in search of a job but was tricked into signing a contract for ironing clothes. By the time his contract ends he will be considered useless for any other jobs. The road cleaner who thought it will be fun to be in a ‘foreign’ country and pooled all his resources to come here only to sweep roads in scorching summers and freezing winters, for whom even a samosa ia a luxury…. The rag picker ho picks up cartons from the dustbin. He has forgotten his mother tongue or his birth place. The stories are endless.
So many stories like this all around…..
I wonder how many Indians actually live here. For there are countless, unaccounted ones…