• September 30, 2020 3:06 am

Reporting From Delhi

Love amidst poverty

ByMihir Srivastava

Mar 2, 2020

Affections thrive even in hard times, here is an insight into how instincts overcome even the dire realities of life

NOTHING COMES easy when one is poor. It’s a very fundamental living, where emotions are sometimes a luxury many can’t afford. But when hormones come into play, instincts take over and the class considerations don’t remain an impediment. As they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Rubiya, 19, was a housemaid in Noida’s Sector 100. Fairly distracted, she found it difficult to meet the expectations of her employers. She is the third child of her mother’s seven children. Her biological father died seven years ago when her youngest brother was only three years old.

Her mother, a very resourceful woman, works hard in a local factory and takes care of all her children. Rubiya’s mother has moved in with a 60-year-old man — 15 years older than her, who has four children of his own. They all live together in a three-room apartment in an urban village in Noida called Ghazipur.

Rubiya grew up in benign neglect and realised soon after she gained puberty that if she doesn’t fend for herself, like her mother, she would never have a life partner. Slender and tall, with big expressive eyes on a bony face, Rubiya used to wander aimlessly till Champak came into her life.

Champak, a gardener, was in his late teens when they met a year and a half ago. He helps his father who’s a caretaker of a nursery in Noida’s Sector 137.

Rubiya and Champak are like two magnets strongly attracted to each other. There was not much talking in their relationship, even a minute together was precious. They often escaped to an opening, a long stretch of fallow land with dense thickets, besides a tall multi-storey residential complex. Instinct overtook them.

Their life changed forever. Passion is difficult to contain. They grew on each other. She stopped contributing to her mother’s household and began saving to start her own family. Her mother smelt a rat, and was both happy and sad.

Initially, Champak refused to entertain the idea of marriage, as he’s a Hindu. But they both knew very well that they couldn’t stay away from each other for long. Eloping was the only option.

So, they shifted to Faridabad a year ago and started living in a one-room accommodation shared by two other couples. Their families know about it, and have disowned them like one rejects mouldy fruits. When they want to be intimate, they pay the other two couples Rs 100 each to stay out of the room for some time. Last week, Rubiya prepared mutton and they stayed locked up.

Nitisha, 22, is the only daughter of a carpenter who migrated from Bihar in the late 1980s and lives near Masjid Moth in South Delhi. She has a younger brother who assists their father; her mother died ten years ago. They live in a joint family with her uncle’s family.

She’s attached to her grandmother, who has suffered a lot, not just because of abject poverty but a haughty life partner. She wants Nitisha to guide her destiny. I explained to her that her grandmother is a true feminist. And so when the opportunity came, Nitisha didn’t blink an eye.

Ramesh is a driver of a private car owned by a woman exporter who lives in Greater Kailash. He works for 15 hours a day on average, gets free late in the evening, never before 9:30. Nitisha works in a beauty parlour nearby, sweeps the floor, serves clients tea and water, and is not allowed to leave her house after 8 pm.

So they hardly have an opportunity to meet but constantly send each other pictures from their respective phones, sometimes even when they are bathing. They need frequent visual validation from each other to get through their daily routine.

They hired a room in Gautam Nagar, at Ramesh’s cousin’s place, to make love at the cost of Rs 500 for three hours. They took selfies lying in an embrace with hardly any clothing on. “We look at our pictures when we want to make love,” Nitisha explains.

Nitisha has no delusion that her marriage to a Madrasi will be opposed by her father but she has made up her mind. “The day living away from Ramesh becomes unbearable, either I will run away with him or commit suicide,” she states in Hindi, her voice quivering with pent up emotions.

Then there are many who just want to be with someone, no one in particular. The hormones run amok causing a tempest within that makes them needy — almost desperate — and restless. Such is Babu, 19 years old,a conductor of a local bus that runs from Mayur Vihar to Dhaula Kuan.

A rural lad from Bahadurgarh has a petite frame, always seems to be on tenterhooks. He’s matter of fact about life, and loves to discuss his private life in public. Twice he was caught making out with girls in the farms on the Yamuna river bed, not far from Akshardham temple. Once he was beaten blue for his sexcapade in a watermelon farm.

“I cannot control my urge,” he says — as if it’s an epilepsy fit. Lately, his love interest is a girl, Ruby, 24, who daily commutes on his bus with her mother, Ritu, 45, an Anganwadi worker. Ritu was quick to understand what was happening between the two.

She invited Babu for a cup of tea in the shack she lives in Trilokpuri. To the utter amazement of Babu, Ritu is open to the idea of Ruby living with Babu. For that to happen, however, she wants Babu to pay her ten lakh rupees, which Babu is committed to doing, but he knows not how.

Ritu encourages the courtship between the two as she feels desperate, hoping Babu will meet her demands. Lately, the whole affair has taken an ugly turn, as Ritu, married to an alcoholic, insists on being sexually satisfied by Babu, before he is allowed to meet her daughter. This has been going on for a few months. Ruby is aghast with her mother’s growing interest in Babu who too is running out of patience.

There was a fight between the mother-daughter duo. Athletic Ruby rained some blows on her stout mother when the latter, in her bid to prevent Ruby from meeting Babu, ended up breaking the bottle of perfume — Ruby’s gift for Babu. “We will run away to Bahadurgarh and if she stops us, will kill her,” Babu means business.

There are so many stories like this, some with a twist, some simple love tales.