Though Nalina, 27, has lived in Bangalore since she was a year old, she has never even seen the Vidhana Soudha.
“I hope to see it someday,” she says, quite ruefully. Nalina, whose hometown is in a village in the Vellore district, dropped out of school after eighth standard and bode her time at home until she got married in 2002.
She has been shuttling between jobs for the past seven years, first working in a small factory that manufactured computer parts, then as a housekeeping supervisor in an apartment complex and now as a cook, working in South Indian homes. She now earns a little over Rs. 8,500 cooking in the mornings and evenings in two apartments to support her husband who now works as a security guard in the same complex.
“We moved back to Bangalore in 2003, a year after we got married in Tamil Nadu. My husband first worked in Laxmipura for three years, his salary wasn’t enough to sustain our kids, so he took up a job as a lorry driver. But he had to quit because of his health.”
And so Nalina too quit her job, to nurse him back to health.
“I then took up cooking because the timings are flexible. I have to work continuously for eight hours in the other jobs. Now I can take care of my kids, help them with their homework.”
Nalina has two girls, aged five and nine, both of whom study in a local private school. “Their school fees have been steadily increasing over the years. This year it has gone up to Rs. 600 per month, it was Rs. 520 last year. I want my kids to study well and become successful in life, I don’t want them to end up like us. Our incomes are not sufficient for our needs, but we have to manage and the children should be happy.”
In all their lives, Nalina’s daughters have never been taken to any of the popular sightseeing spots in the city, whether Lalbagh or Cubbon Park. “Occasionally my brother takes them home for the holidays or to a nearby park. The only other place we visit is the temple. My favourite is the Annamma Devi temple in Majestic. I believe that God will always protect those who are good and honest.”
Though her life is almost constantly on the razor’s edge, Nalina believes that it is in her hands to make it.
“If we are patient, life will be good, but if we get angry or frustrated, our lives will be destroyed. When we first came to Bangalore we had nothing, but now we are able to manage with our lives.”
Nalina has lived her whole life around the area of Ramachandrapura, which she believes has become unsafe.
“Earlier people were all very good, they were respectful and I didn’t feel worried walking on the streets. Now I’m constantly scared to be out on the streets because of all the crimes in the city.”
But her positive outlook helps her hold on to her dreams. “All I want is to save up enough money to buy an auto for my husband as a small business venture, to have a small house in the city and raise my kids to become successful.”
(A weekly feature on the men and women who make Bangalore what it is)