Cooking meaning out of the daily chores...

DUBAI — She slogs day in and day out and strongly believes that she was ‘made’ by God to work.


Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Sat 20 Oct 2007, 8:54 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:51 AM

A day in the life of Mariam“Each day of mine is no different from the other,” Mariam (name changed) says with a smile when asked how long has it been since the time she took her last break. “I guess it’s nearly three years since I took a real break. It is also the time when I came to the UAE from Indonesia.”

Since this country was new to her, she hardly knew anyone here. Hence, she did not feel the need for an off day.

Day begins at 5.30am

“My day starts at 5.30am because I have to help my employer in getting the children off to school. Uniforms have to be readied and lunch boxes packed,” she says adding that the kids love to have different things each day.

Seeking solace in her employers’ children, Mariam, 32, says she tries to lessen the pain of parting with her own child. “I have a three-year-old girl who stays with my husband,” she says quietly.

When asked how she managed to console herself, she adds, “My husband is an alcoholic. He does not stick to any job for long. So I have to earn so as to feed him, my child and my in-laws as well.”

“Dh1,000 salary a month was okay for them,” she says contentedly. “I would prefer that my child stayed with my parents, but he does not want to part with her because that would mean an end to his ‘income’ that he gets through me.”

“After the kids are gone, I have to start the routine work of cleaning and washing which takes about two to three hours,” says Mariam. “Everyday I try and do some extra work like cleaning the cupboards and setting the wardrobes, so that everything continues smoothly throughout the week.”

Happy with employers

Luckily for her, Mariam says that her employers treat her as family member. “Initially, I was very homesick and my heart was crying out for my child, but my employers welcomed me into their family. I’m very content at work,” she adds. “Though my employer has given me the permission to do extra work in our building so that I can earn a little more, I do not prefer it because I get tired and there is hardly anytime.”

She explains that the two children, aged nine and four, are back home by lunch time. “This is a busy time because they have to be washed, changed and fed. Then they have to take a short nap,” she says.

“Sometimes I also oversee their homework because my employer works late, and anyway I am a little educated,” she says.

“Evening is tea time, homework time and soon it is time for dinner,” she says, adding it is almost 9.30pm before the children are in bed.

Mariam explains that she then serves dinner to her employers, and by 11pm she is able to retire for the day only to wake up the next morning to the same routine.

Plans to return home

“I may return to my country soon just for the sake of my child, but I do not have any money because I have sent it all back home. I have saved nothing for myself,” she adds.

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