March 13, 2022
Ms Invisible or Ms Invincible?

G Mamatha

YOU cannot see me, I am invisible. No, it is not me who wakes you up with a cup of hot piping coffee, served early in the morning. Oh, sorry, to wake you up. I know, you cannot be ‘woke’.

Your breakfast? Find it on the table. Sorry, will serve it. Please be seated. Yes, of course it is my duty. It is not tasty? Or is it not to your taste? Beg you, spare me, will not repeat it. Oh, no, it is not me who had made it, because I am invisible. But I am responsible for that tasteless thing or that thing which is not up to your taste.

A spot of leftovers on the plate? Ugh, curse my day! What carelessness! Please, please forgive me. Will not let it happen again. Yes, it is my responsibility. I have not washed it. Nor is it some maid. We are invisible. But it is not washed properly and I understand my responsibility.

What? The dress of your’s is not washed properly? Oh, my! And you have an office to go! And it is not ironed? No, no, no. I am not blaming my other engagements. I own up. I should have washed it more thoroughly. Sorry, I got fooled by all those advertisements. Thought they really mean what they say. Yeah, I have this habit of believing everything at face value. Didn’t I believe what you said and have been saying? Did not realise that your words and advertisements are both equally true! No, this is not to shift the responsibility. It is again me, who is to blame and I take it upon myself. And I am still invisible.

You cannot find the shoes, your purse, your keys and….files too? What a tragedy? My, my…why are these things happening? Why didn’t I see where you had flung that file of yours yesterday after you returned from the office? And those shoes and socks that slipped off from your feet somewhere in that room? Was I busy bringing your evening tea, to relieve you of your stressful day at the office? Even then, I should have had my eyes on the boiling tea, your flying files and slipping shoes. Aren’t my two eyes sufficient for all these things? If not why else should I have them? They are only to look at, and find what you place….no, you never misplace. I never said that. It is my responsibility to ensure that they are always handy, whenever you need them. After all, you are the ‘man of the house’. I am invisible, but it is my duty to ensure that all your things are always visible to you.

Late to work. No, I do not blame it on my house work. Eh, sorry. How can I call whatever I am doing in my house as work. It is not work. It is responsibility. It is a joy. It is my duty. It is what I am born for. It is….just like breathing, eating and sleeping. They are not works. So, what I am doing in my home is also not work. I cannot blame it for me being late to work. Can I blame breathing for my being late. No, right? I am late, because I am….? Lazy? Non serious? Uninterested? Irresponsible? Might be all these. Please let me know your opinion. It is what all that matters.

Manager sir, please can I go little early? Yes, sir. I have to be there before my lord of the house comes. Just like she has to be there before you reach your house. Of course, sir. I cannot compare myself with her. But she is also a she. And you, a he. My today’s work? I have done it sir. All the files on the table are clear. There is nothing pending with me, sir. But you did not see me work, sir? I am invisible sir. You are there sir and he is there and he and he. But I am invisible sir. Oh, that he, next to my table, who you met in the afternoon could not complete his work, but has to go home urgently? Okay sir, I will complete it. Because he needs to go and you had allowed it. No sir, I am asking sir. I am requesting can I go, after I finish his work? Yes sir, who am I sir? I have all the time and will do whatever you ask me to do sir. Otherwise, you will make me invisible from the rolls sir. Is it not? I am invisible and also silent sir. Not a word to anyone.

My goodness, why is this bus not coming? I am already getting late by five minutes, that is 600 seconds. Ah, there it is! Come, come, run, run, catch it. Oh, what a race from the bus stop to that place where the bus stops. Oh, again! Okay, it is crowded. So what, I have to go home, be there on time. Already I am 600 seconds late. Anyway I am invisible so I can push through the crowd. Nudge, nudge, no, no, not too far behind, or too far in front. Try to be in the middle. Around all those invisible people like you. Hmm, now that I found a foothold inside the bus, in the middle of it, standing, I am safe.

But what is that? Those staring eyes? Am I not invisible? How could you see me now? You see me well and clear? Even through my clothes? Oh, so I am now visible to you. Now, because you crave to see me. You see me. Though I do not ‘belong’ to you. I do not like it. I do not want it. What is that creeping from behind? It is not only eyes, but you yourself, who is using the bus to creep upon me. Oh, my! How can I hide? Where can I go? Why am I visible now? There is no way out. Why is it taking so long for the bus to reach my stop. Ah, at last there it is. Wait, wait, I have to get down. I thought I am in the middle. When did you, he and he come between all of us. And why are you not moving? I have to get down. Move, move. You won’t? Okay. But I have to get down. What can I do? I have to make way. So I have to twist and turn, make spaces and what is that look in your eyes? Oh, my visible body is touching you and you are smiling from happiness? What a fate, why is it so perverse?

Long last, back home. Happy? Yes, happy to get out of that bus. Happy? Yes to come back from work. Happy, to be home. Umm….ha...pp...y. Am I tired? No. Not at all. How can I be? Children are coming. They have to be given something to eat. They have to be given dress to change. They have to be told to study. They have to be told to clean. They have to be told to do homework. And the school sent a message about that project work, that assignment. Yes, I have to do it, taking their help. Otherwise, what use is my degree or education for?

And you are back? Coming. Here is your tea. You want something to eat. So much work in the office and tired? There, wait a minute, I will get something. It is not what you wanted? It is not hot? Should I get something else? Yes? Oh….okay….What, you want this for dinner? Okay, done. It is not like what you had eaten in that restaurant the other day, with your friends? I should see that YouTube and cook? Okay. Will do that. Is it not my responsibility? Of course it is. I will certainly do.

My goodness, now that your dinner is done, I am visible again. Alas, I am only visible till tomorrow morning. Again it is the same, for you, for him and for whom?

The government?

Yeah. True. The anganwadis are volunteers. The ASHAs, activists. They are yashodas, mamathas, mitras and etc., etc. Yes, they are not visible to the government, because what they do is not work. Indeed what we do is not work. Going around houses, taking care of children, taking care of people’s health, cooking food, is not work. It is duty. We cannot ask for payment for what is not work? Very true. How can we, we are, after all, invisible.

Neither are we visible in agricultural fields or factories.

Thank you for noticing us on March 8. Yes that is to recognise how beautiful we are. How to improve our beauty. How to dress well. How to be well presentable. Only then you can see us. You will see only when you need. So March 8 for you is to make us forget and become presentable to you.

Sorry sir. March 8 is a reminder for us. For what we are. What we can and what we are capable of. That day for us, is a reminder. We are equal. We are who we are and we work, if not more, at least equal to what you do. March 8 is a reckoning for change. To change you, him, him and the State. March 8 made us not only visible, but gave us confidence that we are invincible. We are here not to give birth to children alone. We are here to give birth to a new you, a new tomorrow and a new society.

you are welcome.
you are a piece of the revolution, wake up the city”.