EVERYTHING BEGINS AT HOME
She tried to balance the 3-year-old on her hips. He was so heavy. He was wriggling ferociously to get out of her grip. She just couldn't control him enough to carry him to his mother who was shouting continuously to bring him to her. She forced herself with all her strength to move quickly but fell. As they toppled, she made sure the baby would be shielded from hitting the floor. In the attempt, she herself bruised her arms.
The baby boy was screaming. Before she knew it, 'Madam' came hurriedly in and slapped her across the face. The little girl was merely 2/3 years older than her son and didn't have the physical capability yet to tend to him. But that didn't occur to 'Madam' at all.
The above is one of many incidents the helping hands of our community have to bear with. The general behaviour towards these domestic help (buas, baburchis, drivers etc) is one of condescend. Most of us treat them more like slaves than employees. There's no limit to their hours of work each day. We don't give them even a day's leave per week. Many sleep on kitchen floors and they rarely have any scope of entertainment or relaxation. Moreover, the number of reported deaths since independence of helping hands through abuse has approximated to be around 79-89; and there are countless unreported incidents that never made it into the statistics.
We need to change our attitudes, refine our mentalities. Maybe in that hope Humayun Ahmed portrayed a scene of helping hands eating lunch at the dining table with family members in his natok 'Bohubrihi'. And knowing how important these little things are in shaping our characters, Sister Pauline at HolyCross College used to threaten us with punishment if we let our drivers carry our college bags.
It all matters. To revolutionise our society, we first need the evolution of our homes. 'Shomman' is an organisation dedicated to the betterment of helping hands. It's about to take its first footstep today through paying tribute to the helping hands who lost their lives to abuse since Bangladesh's birth. Join 'Shomman' in spirit by assuring your helping hands that they are safe under your care. Let your bua watch Ittyadi with you. Buy your driver lunch when you're out with your friends. At the end of the day, these 'Cinderella's in our homes will be the true reflection of the morally distorted people we are; regardless of how established we are in our society.
The author is co-founder of the organisation Shomman.