Peripheral Vision: a 16‑Year‑Old Nanny from Chiplun
Our series, Peripheral Vision, explores the untold stories of people we encounter on a daily basis.
When I was 12, I wanted to study in a city school. So, my parents sent me to my aunt in Mumbai. For three years, until my 10th grade, I was in a municipal school in the city. I made a lot of friends and I was having a good time, when I suddenly got a call from my mother and she said my father had passed.
I couldn’t believe it, but I was the oldest so I had to compose myself and be strong for my mother and my siblings. I knew I had to give up on studies to earn. The aunt I was staying with was a baby-sitter and used to often talk about how enjoyable it was. So, I thought of accompanying her on one of her duties and thought to myself that, if I can take care of my siblings, I can definitely take care of babies.
So, my aunt put me in touch with another home that needed a baby-sitter and I started immediately after the first meeting. The 3-year-old girl was the happiest thing that had happened to me since my father’s passing. We used to play, sing, try and dance, and just keep laughing all day. Her parents were very understanding of my needs and the kind of love I was craving. They treated me like their own daughter and bought me clothes, chocolates, toys whenever they visited a mall. They also asked me if I wanted to study further and enrolled me in a BMC school.
While I am at school, the baby’s mother fills in for me because her office starts only at 12. Once I am back, I pack lunch for her, and she goes to work. Then, it’s time for me to bathe the baby, put her to sleep, and in the meantime I finish my homework or project assignments, if any. The baby wakes up in about two hours, when I give her some food her mother has prepared, and I play with her. I understand English, so I play nursery rhymes and sing to her as well. She enjoys it a lot.
Then again after an afternoon nap, I get her ready, and we go to the park where her parents join. Once her parents are taking care of her, I catch up with other baby-sitter friends I’ve made in the one year I’ve been working here. We play for about two hours and on heading home, we freshen up and get dinner. My employers have been very generous and have let me stay with them, so I don’t have to worry about going home. While everyone sleeps early, I stay up at least till midnight to watch television or read up notes. Then, it’s time for a new day.
Currently, I’m very happy with this job because it doesn’t feel like a job, I am not giving up on anything to do this. I’m still studying, I’m enjoying and playing at the same time and, with the Rs. 15,000 I earn, I can feed three others in my family. I’d love for my siblings also to do this.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. As told to Anubhuti Matta.