The Broken Smile

The darkness of the night had swept across the room. It was all quiet as everyone had gone to sleep. Everything felt so calm and peaceful but she. She was lying in one corner of the room and unlike her husband and two kids; she was fully awake with eyes wide open and just staring at the room’s ceiling. Lost in the train of her thoughts, she bore a void expression, her eyes fixed to one spot and devoid of any expression. The calmness was only external for inside she had a storm building up. She could feel the tears rolling down her eyes just like lava flows before a volcano explodes. But like all other nights that night came to an end as well.

Rani used to work as a maid in our house. My mother was quite satisfied with her as she would quietly keep doing her assigned tasks without interfering into other matters. Also, she was trustworthy which is a rare trait for house maids these days. My mother is habitual of giving tea and breakfast to our maid. One Saturday morning, when we were all giving our weekend a lazy start, I saw my mother handing Rani her tea and then asking her if she had again been crying the whole night. Rani smiled weakly, the kind of smile that is not a gesture of happiness but of utter gloom and misery. My mother told her that her eyes had swollen and she looked too weak to work. Rani just nodded in response, told her that there hadn’t been any betterment in the situation and then resumed her work. I was quite intrigued to know the full matter and asked my mother. What she told was not a new story yet I felt pity for Rani. Rani was married a guy who was out of job most of the time and naturally she was the sole bread earner of the family. She had two kids who she couldn’t afford to send to school. So they would keep playing the whole day long with their neighborhood children, and as a consequence of this, were losing their manners. To make things worse, her husband fell for some other girl in their relatives and whatever money they had, he started spending it lavishly on her.

It was most unfortunate, rather ironic; the more I thought about it the more it made my heart miserable. Rani’s name meant ‘the Queen’, made to live a peaceful, untroubled and carefree life. Yet there she was, washing people’s clothes, making their floors shine with her blood and sweat, working from dawn to dusk to satisfy her family’s needs. Despite all her efforts, she could barely make the both ends meet. The financial pressure was too crushing for her to bear alone. Still, till the present day she continues to work like a slave to fulfill her basic needs. This is not an unusual or unique story; it’s something that we keep hearing about. It’s not only the fate of Rani but also many others like her who are compelled to live a wretched and desolate life. They don’t have any hope of improvement or betterment in their lifestyles. They can only glance at the sky-touching shopping plazas and shining cars with an expression of awe and longing. The poor creatures struggling to have their basic necessities of life can’t even think about the luxury and lavishness that they see around themselves.

It’s a question I keep asking myself: how long the situation’s going to take to get better for people like Rani? But before I can think of any answer to it, another question starts nudging me: it’s not that what I CAN do for them, it’s what I AM doing for them? The moment all of us figured the answer to this question, I am sure we will be able to fix everything; most of all we will be able to fix The Broken Smiles.

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