Masada Kai: Lakshmi Traces Forty Years as a Domestic Worker

Lakshmi has been a domestic worker since she was all of seven years old. In this conversation with RJ Manjula for Masada Ka, she recalls her early days, her marriage at the age of seventeen, and her continuing presence in a profession that has little job security.

“After I got married, I took a break from this work for three years. But I continued to help out my husband as he ran a canteen. Even after I returned to domestic work, I remain a partner of his in that food business.”

Domestic work, more often than not, means no leaves, no medical support, and no solid financial support. “Owners also should understand our situation and support our well-being,” Lakshmi says. “In 40 years of experience, I have worked with different kinds of employers. I served a family for 18 years and took care of the lady of the house till her death on the bed; but her husband never gave me a rupee extra. Their daughter, though, gave me Rs 12,000 as a bonus without her father knowing. Employers from the younger generation are definitely more supportive in comparison. I remember, when I was working as a child, a few owners had tried to touch me and kiss me forcibly, and after a while, I had been forced to leave those jobs.”

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