In one of the quietest neighbourhood of restive Sopore, a lady has been turning up in a government school daily for last three decades. She comes, cleans and calls it a day, earning just Rs 3/day!
The 60-year-old Noora Begum of Sopore’s Bomai has been discharging the duty for half of her life now. During the same period, her family thrived on the meagre amount she earned by cleaning the school spread over 8 kanals of land. At her ripe age, she continues to broom the school for the living.
Hailing from Edipora Bomai, Noora daily cleans around 11 rooms of Government High School Goripora. She first came to clean the school during mid-eighties. As widow and mother of two, she had taken up the job to support her family. By then, her husband was already dead for ten years.
To begin with, she was allowed to discharge the duty with Rs 50/month. Now, thirty years after carrying her duty religiously, her appointment, on contingency basis, came with Rs 100/month.
The ordeal began after her husband, her only support, passed away, leaving behind the young mother with two daughters. Being in her early twenties, she could have re-married and restarted her life. But instead she chose to take up odd jobs in her village to feed, sustain her two children. Over the period of time, she saved some amount to marry her daughters. After their marriage, the mother has been dwelling in her one room dingy house, in almost abject condition.
Her daily routine starts by doing odd jobs in her village before going to school for cleaning. Once done, Noora again visits the neighbourhood to take up tasks to earn some living.
Sometimes the villagers also chip in with some contributions. But that is, perhaps, the least thing she wishes. She asserts that generosity of the villagers is welcome, but thriving on it for the living isn’t her ideal way of life.
Over the time, Noora has created her own persona in the village. But while battling the vagaries of life, her health took the hit. For many years now, she has been suffering from diabetes—a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar) experience frequent urination, increasingly thirsty and hungry. But the truth is: her condition often comes in way of her hunger.
- Riyaz Ul Khaliq