Her husband makes an excellent model of hen curry. “However we haven’t had it for a very long time,” says Kamni, who solely goes by her first identify. Her cause is straightforward sufficient. “I not earn as a lot as I used to earlier than the lockdown so we are able to’t afford maas-machhi.”
For 20 years, Kamni has been working as a housekeeper to scores of one-room pads in Hauz Khas Village, rented largely by single individuals pursuing all types of occupations: some are documentary filmmakers, some are store assistants, and some are even musicians. She herself lives in the identical village together with her household, her house a strolling distance from the locations the place she works.
Most of Kamni’s employers gave up their lodging not lengthy after the Covid-19-triggered lockdown began, due to job losses or wage cuts, leaving Kamni with much less earnings. “I used be answerable for greater than a dozen rooms… now simply three or 4,” she mentioned.
It’s a sultry August afternoon. She has simply completed cleansing the house of a “didi,” a girl dwelling on the third ground of an house block that overlooks Hauz Khas’s 14th century monuments. Sitting on the staircase, Kamni reveals the mehendi that she utilized on her fingers just a few weeks in the past. She isn’t positive of her age however she is father or mother to 2 college-going youngsters. She regrets that she hasn’t been in a position to purchase them any new attire or sneakers because of the cash crunch, however she isn’t anxious about her personal sense of fashion. “Corona couldn’t have an effect on my vogue,” she mentioned, laughing. Overlaying her unmasked face together with her henna-dyed fingers, she says that every 12 months she will get a pair of salwar fits stitched for herself from a tailor in Yusuf Sarai. “That’s my solely private expense, and the whole lot else goes into the training of youngsters.”
Regardless of the huge modifications that the pandemic has inflected in individuals’s life, Kamini’s schedule hasn’t been affected. She nonetheless wakes up on the unearthly hour of Four within the morning and heads straight to a residential block whose roofs, corridors and staircases she has been cleaned for a few years now.
The one distinction now’s that her workday ends by midday, slightly than 2 pm because it did in March.
“Nowadays I attain house early, sure, however my husband nonetheless makes lunch for the household.” Born within the hills of Pauri Garwhal in Uttarakhand, Kamni got here to Delhi not lengthy after marrying Chander Mohan, who provides to the family earnings by cleansing personal automobiles within the village.
Leaning towards the staircase’s railing, Kamini regularly grows sombre. “So many individuals I labored for have left. On a regular basis I cross in entrance of these empty rooms.” “I hope they’re positive wherever they’re.”
Work finished, she is going to stroll house, or sit on a bench for some time. “Round this time, earlier than the lockdown, I’d be so busy,” she mentioned.