Manju, a resident of Harijan Basti in Gurgaon works as a domestic worker in a housing society nearby. Once working for four different households Manju has now lost most of her work due to the pandemic. Some of her employers paid her in full for the month of April. Some refused to pay, saying they were facing financial issues themselves.
Only one of her employers calls her for work now. Her day starts with going out to buy fruits and vegetables for her employer. She adds, she works hard for her madam, helping her in chores, buying groceries for her, and more.
Manju says that during the previous lockdown, her current employer gave her ₹2000 to support her family. Shortly after, her employer asked her to return the amount, and pursued her relentlessly for the money. Manju felt hurt and dejected by her employer’s insistence, and felt that her dignity was being questioned. Despite facing financial difficulties, she somehow managed to pay her employer back.
“Log dusro ki majboori nahi samajhte. Maang nahi sakti hoon, unki marzi hai! Deti bhi nahi hain, unke dil mein nahi aata?” adds Manju.
Overpowered by the feeling of helplessness in the current scenario, Manju has no strength left to question anyone, and is willing to accept whatever little her employers pay her.
With the loss of her employment, Manju has had to withdraw her children from tuition classes. She couldn’t afford to pay their fees anymore.
Her landlord calls her every now and then asking for rent.
“Kaam karoon, ki baccho ko padhaun, ki ghar ka kiraya doun?” she asks.
This story is a part of MFF’s Lockdown Stories series, which consist of everyday lived experiences of domestic workers in the COVID-19 Second Wave. There’s no data around the needs and experiences of domestic workers in this fight against the coronavirus. MFF along with its partner networks is attempting to bridge this gap. Join us in advocating for change and ensuring protection for domestic workers through prioritised vaccinations, relief package distribution and all other benefits being extended to frontline workers.