LIFE IS ALL AROUND US
Reetha’s life was around us. Her smiling husband, from an arranged marriage more than a decade early, who she obviously adored with all her heart. He occasionally dropped in from the shopfront to help where he could.
Her two young daughters arrived home from a family birthday party. Soon after she explained how lucky she was to have had the choice to stop at just two children.
Then her elderly mother-in-law shuffled past us to go into the storeroom off the kitchen. We did not realise the storeroom doubled-up to be this elderly lady’s bedroom.
With the door just ajar, she unrolled a thin swag of foam and an old green sleeping bag out onto the cold concrete floor and lay down to sleep. We didn’t stare, because just a passing glance of this image was enough to burn the picture into our memories for life.
The thought of our own mothers/grandmothers sleeping like this was incomprehensible. This was not a show, this was real life.
She continued smiling as she recounts stories of how lucky she is for the wonderful life she leads.
This was not a ‘pity-me’ scenario. Reetha did not subtly close the door embarrassed that we may have seen what went on behind closed doors. She continued talking to us like we would continue to talk if a child had come into our kitchen to get a glass of water. This was nothing out of the ordinary to draw attention to.