The portrait of a construction labourer as a wife and mother
Anita’s life was far easier back home in the village than in Gurugram. “There, I would just have to bring lunch to my father at noon… he is a farmer and I was expected to help him in the fields only during the harvest season,” she says, recalling the carefree days of girlhood.
Now she is 22, wife to Sunil and mother to two-year-old Sonam. Her home no longer has the solidity of her parents’ brick hut. Now, it’s a corner of the sidewalk enclosed with plastic sheets tied to a bamboo frame.
Both she and her husband are construction labourers and move with their makeshift household every other month to wherever their work takes them. At the moment, they are part of a group hired to build a multi-storey apartment in Sector 14.
It’s afternoon and the family is quietly enjoying the lunch break in their dwelling. They’ve just finished eating soyabean subzi with rice. Little Sonal is swinging on her father’s legs. “I prepare the day’s meal in the morning,” Anita says, detailing how she wakes up at 5am and washes dirty laundry first. The duo walks to the work by 9am. The child stays with them.
“We don’t have much with us,” mutters Anita, her eyes darting about her small home. “Just two pairs of shirt pants, three saris, a sheeshi (bottle) of mustard oil, chulha (stove) and some utensils.”
She forgets to mention Sonam’s teddy bear slumped beside the wall.
Sunil points to a small fan. “This too is ours.”
He forgets to mention Sonam’s little gold colour slippers they purchased
last week for 50 rupees.
There was a mobile phone too. “Sonam broke it,” Anita says. They will buy a new phone next month “as soon as we get our salary”, says Sunil.
They must now get back to work. On their return at 8 pm, Anita will have to prepare dinner. “At home, I would sit idle and watch mummy cook at night.”