Waheeda had twelve children. When I met her she was expecting the thirteenth. Her eldest daughter was 14 years old and Waheeda herself was 28 years. So she literally had one child every year since her fourteenth birthday.
Waheeda literally begged me to appoint her as a part-time maid. I was honestly hesitant looking at her frail frame. I was skeptical that she wouldn’t even be able to lift a cup. However, out of sympathy, I appointed her. Daily, she was supposed to come to my place at 7 am but not a single day did she reach before 12pm. Twice a week she used to not turn up at all. Each time her excuse was a sick child.
Then one day her rickshaw-puller husband met with an accident and lost his leg. His rickshaw also got dismantled. As they had no insurance for the rickshaw they neither could claim any money nor could sell it to anybody. Whatever savings she had she spent on her husband’s treatment.
At that time she was again nearly 2 months pregnant and I advised her to abort the child. But she said that as per her religion abortion is haram and she would never do that. Life became extremely difficult for her. She was the only earning member and had 14 mouths to feed. I couldn’t even comprehend how she was managing. None of her children went to school. After managing such a huge family she could barely work in more than 3 houses. She had lots of pride and she used to never take any extra financial help. I used to still send fruits/vegetables/grains to her for the kids.
It was a cold winter morning and quite foggy outside. Waheeda came to my place with another woman. Waheeda showed that woman to me and said that henceforth this woman would work at my place instead of her. I was shocked to hear this. I knew her dire condition and quitting the job was not a luxury that she could indulge. Looking at my gaping mouth she said with a wide grin “Don’t worry Didi, this lady is no outsider, she is my husband’s new wife, her name is Firoza” I sat down on the bed. I was wondering how her husband could remarry in this situation.
They both looked at my shocked condition and laughed heartily. Firoza was trying to hide a shy smile when Waheeda said “Didi, I asked my husband to marry her. She is a widow and has no one in the whole world.’ I almost felt like screaming at Waheeda for her charity. How could she possibly think of giving shelter to someone else when she herself had nothing. Waheeda continued “Don’t worry Didi, Firoza will be of great help, she can work in 5-6 houses and also help me in taking care of the husband, house, and children. If both of us work the income will increase.” Well, I had not thought of this angle. I felt relaxed but immediately I got anxious thinking about the efficiency of her husband in the fertility department. Before I could say anything Waheeda probably read my thoughts and said: “Firoza had an infection and had to go for hysterectomy, she can never be a mother.” I almost felt like clapping my hands. Waheeda had indeed found a perfect solution to her problems. In all practical way, Waheeda and Firoza became like a double income couple. They both were earning together and taking care of the house together. I felt Waheeda was a really smart woman. What do you feel?