CHENNAI:Padmavathy isn’t sure if she is 45 or 46. Nobody from her small, nondescript village in Southern Andhra, know their exact date of birth. But that isn’t the case when it comes to her two children — a son and a daughter. “I had somebody at the hospital write down the days that they were born on, so that they wouldn’t have the same problem that I have lived with,” she says. When she lost her husband, an alcoholic who admittedly never really cared enough to hold down a job a year after her second child was born, she realised that there would be no respite for her. “I was working from a very young age In our village. Construction work in nearby areas or even house work. There wasn’t much back then, but my family needed whatever little they could get,” says the lady who still sweeps, swabs and cleans three households every day. That’s when a whole clan moved to this city and gradually made it their home. Women with deadbeat husbands were quite common in her social circle, but very few had the burden of raising a son and a daughter by just cleaning homes. “There were so many days when I just thought of leaving it all and going back home or even running away. But the thought of these two small children with no one to care for them kept me going. I don’t think I would have gotten this far if it hadn’t been for them,” she says.
Today, both of them are married, and her daughter has just given birth to Padmavathy’s first granddaughter. “The kind of struggle that I had, borrowing, pledging jewels, going hungry, eating leftovers was to try and put them through school. I may not have been too successful at that,” she admits. Her son is a mechanic, while her daughter is married to a press worker, but she’s certain that her granddaughter will not have any of this trouble, “They fight with me and we have arguments, but I have taught them not to leave their families and to have faith in god. Their children will always have a full family and education,” she concludes.