March 23, 2015

The 10x housing mantra (of the home & the heart)

The world is changing every single second....and so are our dreams and aspirations. In this race of life, nobody wants to be left behind. Everyone is constantly on the run, seeking a better lifestyle, striving for a better quality of living. However, what we fail to notice is that this constant struggle for improvement is slowly but surely taking over what is most important...our relationships.

I have seen a lot of people changing. 'No time to care' seems like the new age mantra. Everyone is busy caught up in their own lives, trying to better their tomorrow. The fact that they are neglecting their today goes unnoticed. However, there are a few people who still appreciate the simple life.
In this world of rapidly changing priorities, they have still not let go of their values. It is in stheir small acts of genuine simplicity that I realize that all is not lost. The world still has hope for a better tomorrow, a tomorrow where man will respect relations more than wealth, where honest, God-fearing people will bring up their children the right way, where love and kindness will be most supreme.

Meet Savitri.
Despite of residing in crowded shanties, Savitri  is a neat and tidy woman with oiled kempt hair and a cheerful disposition. Her clothes are old but washed. She is the sole earning member of her family, the others being a drunk husband and a grand-daughter, Sayli, whom she adores.
Till date, Savitri has not once mentioned about her daughter and son-in-law, and I have never asked. I respect her privacy, but the occasional bruises on her arm are an indicator of domestic abuse. Despite all these hardships, Savitri always has a smile on her face...a smile that tells the world she is not giving up, at least not as yet.

During Savitri's eight years of working as 'help' in my house, there were many instances when her integrity had been unintentionally tested---times when I left my hand bag open on the table, tired evenings when I carelessly placed my wrist watch by the bed side, forgot a fifty rupee note in my jeans pocket. But it was Savitri who unfailingly pointed out and corrected my recklessness. ..every single time!

Recently, a close friend had stopped by my house. Like is the norm in my case, friendly gup-shup often steers in every single direction under the sun, and we ended up discussing real estate. Savitri happened to around then, mopping the floor.
Nikita was explaining to me about Look Up's 10x housing mantra, and the revolutionary initiative that got all the elements together and make housing easier. Her dream seemed just a step away now. Housing was no longer a cause of panic attacks. As I checked the website, I had to agree it was an impressive approach.

Soon after Niki left, Savitri asked me what we were talking about.
I had realized Savitri was eavesdropping, and it amused me.

"That is her dream, Savitri. She wants to lead a comfortable life. Owning a plush house has always been top most on her priority list."

She was silent. I wanted to continue the conversation. It was not every day that Savitri initiated a conversation.

"Do you have a dream?" I asked her.

 "Yes, Memsaheb," she said, almost instantly.

That is when she amazed me yet again with her clarity and simplicity of thoughts. Savitri had a dream...a dream to educate her grand-daughter and make her a responsible citizen.

"Memsaheb, education is most important, isn't it? I am illiterate. But I will never let that happen with my Sayli," she said.  "My grand-daughter stands amongst the first three in her class. She wants to be a doctor like you," she smiled.

I couldn't help but smile back. I was proud of the determination I saw in her. She told me that her grand-daughter studied well in advance for her exams. As  electricity was scarce, she sometimes studied under the street light. I saw a strange kind of passion in Savitri's eyes....the grit to overcome the odds, the hunger for knowledge, an ambition, a goal, a dream.
I felt a strong urge to help this woman fulfil her dream. If only I could help her in some way, I thought. I knew Sayli was a bright child. I decided to offer to pay her school fees. But Savitri refused.

"Thank you, Memsaheb. But I cannot accept it," she said, declining the money proffered to her.

"But why, Savitri? You  don't need to pay me. I am aware of the hardships you have to go through. Sayli is doing very well. Things would be easier if..."

"Nahi Memsaheb," she interjected. "My Sayli should know the importance of her education. She should know how much her mother has sacrificed so that she can study. Only then will she learn. Only then will she remember."

I nodded. I knew what she meant.

"She respects me, Memsaheb. She knows I do all I can...only for her."

I was proud of Savitri. Some other person, in her situation, would have gladly accepted the money. But Savitri, although poor, was a self-respecting woman. She had not once asked for more than what she deserved. That day, I realized why. Savitri's self-respect, honesty and dignity of labor were the driving force behind Sayli's perseverance. She wanted to teach her grand-child to dream on her own fly with her own wings. She was hopeful. She was optimistic. This woman, standing in front of me, had not let go of her dreams, but she had not forsaken her values for it. With an upbringing like this, I was very sure that her grand-daughter would live up to her expectations.

"I have saved some money for Sayli's college," she told me. "People tell me to rent out a small kholi with that money. But I am saving it for her education. I can live in a hut all my life. But if I stop dreaming, I will be miserable. She is my only reason for happiness. You think I am wrong, Memsaheb?"

"No Savitri. You are absolutely right," I smiled. "What is more important than the four walls of a house, is the happiness of the people living in it. You are absolutely right. Don't ever give up on that dream. "

Savitri might not have good housing facilities today. But she had earned respect in the eyes of her grand-daughter. They both shared a silent promise of love and selfless devotion to each other. She safe-guarded a dream in her eyes....a dream that would nurture their relationship.

That day, I realized that love worked on a 10x housing mantra too, just like Look Up. If allowed to house in the heart, it makes one push their limits to move towards a better future.


Pooja Mahimkar said...

What an inspiring woman

Pri said...

@ Pooja
Yes, she truly is! :)