Rahima Bi ,65 years old works as a domestic household in Jalgaon. For her labors she gets the princely sum of Rs 800. With this she contributes to her daughter’s household where she and her husband live as they have no sons. For the group of women sharing their experiences with me the ‘sonless’ status of Rahima seems to be the most pitiable- it is as if this sets her specially apart from the rest and makes her doubly vulnerable as she is dependent on her son-in-law.
Her husband in the past was a daily wages laborer and now does nothing. He abandons her for long periods of time at her daughter’s because of a sense of shame that he is dependent on his daughter and son-in-law. Though the son-in-law seems supportive, for this couple their dependency on their daughter is hugely problematic. The son-in-law is himself a daily wages laborer and the family depends on his sporadic salary for their livelihood. Whatever Rahima Bi makes she hands over to her son-in-law. One meal a day is ensured when she goes to work and sometimes leftovers from her employers save the day from hunger for the family.
Rahima complains of asthma and pain in one eye. She is mostly at the mercy government hospitals for her medical problems- her problems after all are the bottom of the priority list as the young take precedence over everyone else. She does have an APL card but gets the entitled grain sporadically and finds the 15 kg woefully inadequate for her large family.
‘How long will our daughter support us’ she asks of herself daily. A pension for her would definitely help her lead a less insecure and dependent life.