Peripheral Vision: a 20‑Year‑Old Nanny from Kashid
Our series, Peripheral Vision, explores the untold stories of people we encounter on a daily basis.
Let me begin by saying that I love my job. I would not do anything else in the world and not be anywhere else but where I am right now. I was 16 when I tagged along with my uncle to Mumbai from Kashid, my sleepy, lazy, Goan-esque hometown. I didn’t feel like studying in the school there, it was very boring. Children would hardly turn up and I felt like I knew more than my teachers did. So when my uncle was moving to Mumbai, I asked if he would enroll me in a school there and he agreed.
We came to the city but he didn’t do as he promised. He put his children in a school but said he didn’t have money for me. I was so upset that I decided I’d make my own money and support my education. I started looking for work and through a friend I’d made, I got to know that I could become a nanny. I’d never taken care of people before and it sounded very exhausting but I was willing to try out anything because I loved studying and needed the money.
I went for an interview the next day and although I was underage, they said they would be willing to try it out with me for a few days and then decide whether I was a good fit or not.
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When I was briefed, they told me that their two-year-old boy was my responsibility. I had to take care of his food, sleep, play and basic hygiene. His grandparents would also be home while his parents were away at work. That helped me a lot in the first few days because they took me through his whole routine – what he likes to eat, when he sleeps, when he should be taken to the park to play.
Now that I look back, I feel like I didn’t have a second to breathe. It was work after work, I felt like the seconds hand on a clock, always moving. The baby would eat, then would want to eat again, or he would want me to play with him, or respond to his questions or keep talking with him. And his sleeping didn’t mean that I’d get some rest; I’d have to prepare for his next meal or clean the mess he’d created at home. But I never felt tired, it was only when I hit the bed that I’d feel the pain in my legs and fall asleep immediately. But there hasn’t been a morning when I’ve woken up feeling lazy to go to work or not feeling up for it. There was something new to look forward to every day and learn something too. Being a nanny taught me the importance of planning ahead, to foresee situations and prepare for emergencies. It made me responsible.
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When things started going smoothly at work, I also managed to remove time to study from the books I’d borrowed from my friends and cousins to catch up with whatever I’d missed. On seeing this, my employers enrolled me into a municipal school and I feel like no money that they will ever give me is going to match the gift of schooling they’ve given me. It’s been four years since I’ve been with them and attending school, and I feel like my life’s perfect. This year I’m also preparing for my board exams and the parents sometimes give me mock exam papers to solve, solve my doubts and are trying in every way possible to help me pass the exam with flying colors. The grandparents are around to fill in for me when I’m at school or studying and I could not have asked for more support. I’m looking forward to giving my exam, and getting good grades and that’s the only way I can repay them for everything they’ve done for me.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. As told to Anubhuti Matta.