On International Women’s Day, I dedicate this post to one of the most empowered women I know. 70-year-old Ganga has worked for my father, the late Daddykins, for several years. This morning, she strode into the house with a smile staining her betel-soaked teeth: “Hullo, Amma!”
I believe women like Ganga remain a threat to men because they can smell a man’s BS from Mars, a fact that also explained my Daddykins' valet's tendency to taunt her.
“Old Woman, you look like you were born into the English language," he said, "the way you’re addressing my boss in English and all?”
“Sweetheart, you may not know this,” Ganga said, placing her red and black wire bag on the kitchen floor. “But I was born very well.”
“Really?” Vinayagam asked. His scorn went ignored by both the women in the room.
Ganga moseyed up to where I sat cutting up a winter melon. “Like my cousin brother used to be a writer in a bank.”
Vinayagam shut the door of the fridge and turned to her. “You mean he was a peon, Old Woman.”
Ganga didn’t know to read or write. She didn’t know to count the days between March 17 and April 10. But she could speak her mind. She had the right to express herself in the late Daddykins’ home.
“And, you know, my uncle was an attorney,” she said. “A rather big one in the village.”
The young man laughed. “That’s why you’re in and out of a court all the time?” His scornful reference to her litigious streak fazed her the least. “What say, Old Woman?”
Ganga ignored him. A wan smile lifted her cheek. “You know, even though I was born well, I’ve ended up having to wash dishes. But I’m proud about what I do. I do it well. Like…no one dares walk up to Ganga and complain about her poor work ethic.”
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