‘Vijayeeee, wash your feet outside the house,’ Mini screamed for the umpteenth time. In his joy at having worked in the fields, Vijay would inevitably forget to wash his feet, leaving muddy footprints from the main door to the bathroom inside. Watching him doing it, the younger one had also started to do the same, thinking it is some fun game between Mummy and Daddy.
Vijay’s been away for a month now. In her solitude, all Mini wants is for Vijay to walk in through the door and leave his footprints on the floor. How she would love to scream and scold him? How much she would love to crib about it to his parents and cousins? Maybe, she shouldn’t have removed it the last time. Now, she wanders aimlessly in the empty house, from the kitchen to the bedroom, from the bedroom to the living room, then to the verandah. There is no one to wait for, no one to talk to, no one to share life with.
A few years in the Gulf for Vijay, would ensure they have better lives. It was a decision, they had to make. ‘You have a daughter. Think about her marriage,’ everyone said.
She will be tough. She will be happy. She will be a single parent to her daughter. She will learn to manage the house, manage the finances, and everything at home, while Vijay works in the Gulf to earn a living for them.
In Kerala, this is a true story in almost every household. In my village, unemployment has ensured there is no male in most houses as all of them are working in the Gulf. Life goes on managed by the women. The children never get to know their fathers who come down on short one month visits every two years or even more. A lonely life filled with invisible footprints.