The one who wanted to become a model

Defiance is the virtue of the brave

Like any middle class Indian household, we have had our fair share of maids and servants. Some have stayed on with us, serving generations and becoming like a member of our family whereas some have left for greener pastures.

Something that I was reading the other day reminded me of a particular girl who used to come with her mother to our house to help her in the cleaning. From the very first day she had set foot in our house to the very last, she was the source of constant amusement to everyone at home. What set her apart was the way she carried herself, the way she dressed. Unlike her elder sisters and her mother, she was always found dressed in jeans and tshirts or skirts and tops. Now, if you have ever lived in a small town like Patna, you know how it is a very big deal for a maidservant’s daughter to ‘dress up’. My mother, herself raising two teenage daughters at that time often asked her whether she found skirts comfortable enough to wear to a place she had to spend copious hours cleaning and scrubbing. Her lack of dedication to the tasks assigned to her everyday stemmed from a desire to leave behind her life of drudgery to do some cooler stuff. Once it so happened, my mother, instead of paying the salary to this girl’s mother, gave it to the girl as the mother was on a long leave owing to some illness. A month or so later, when the mother was back, she enquired from my mother very discreetly as to why she had not been paid last month’s salary yet. After much prodding, it came to be known that the girl had used up all that money to get a photoshoot done and a portfolio made for herself. She wanted to become a model and that explained perfectly her indifference to the work she did as a house maid as well her choice of attire.

For many years after that, whenever there was a discussion of all things funny or weird that has happened at our home, this girl’s name always cropped up as the maid who wanted to become a model.

More than a decade has passed and amongst the many things that have changed is also my understanding of the world and the society around me.

While we spare no chance to diss a politician’s son or daughter who joins politics or a superstar’s kid who wants to join films, we, at the same time, in the same breath, also diss the poor woman’s daughter who doesn’t want to remain poor all her life and dares to dream above her class.

The depravity of the human mind is boundless. A little education gives us so much arrogance that we in a matter of seconds spare no one in passing judgment. We hate the children of politicians, sportspersons and film personalities because their ancestry makes it easier for them if they choose to join the profession of their illustrious parent. At the same time, we hate the guts of person economically and socially inferior to us for daring to think out of the box. For having the courage to dream about things beyond their reach. Why? Because we fear that they might be more successful than us. The same reason for which we hate the so-called privileged kids of the society.

Today I don’t know whether the girl made it big or not. I don’t know whether she continues to work at houses or not. But I do salute her for dreaming big in a country where class and gender barriers make her the most underprivileged person alive.