She came to Dubai to make a decent living and help her poverty-stricken family caught in a vicious cycle of debt. Her mother earned a living selling vegetables which meant rising early to buy her stock for the day. She had many mouths to feed and a husband who had disappeared suddenly, never to return.
I met this young woman after she arrived in the land of her dreams. She was determined to make it on her own but first she had to learn English as the owner of the salon where she got a job insisted she learn the language to be able to communicate with clients.
I admire her perseverance in the face of adversity and the fact that she has come to terms with the fact that she will not be able to change the lives of her family members who seem to prefer living in debt rather than changing things around with help she was only too willing to give
Whenever I visited the salon, I would see her holding a book and painstakingly reading sentences that must have been gibberish to her. But she persevered and, to my amazement, she was able to converse in simple English in a matter of six months.
Her goal was to save money, buy some gold and send her mother money every month. She lived frugally and within a year she was able to achieve some of these goals.
She went home on leave after two years, feeling flush and confident that she could change the lives of her mother and siblings. Unfortunately, she had to deal with a good-for-nothing brother who stole her money and sold the mobile phone she had bought for him.
She returned from the holiday disillusioned but decided to learn from her mistakes. However, things back home began to deteriorate and she was forced to quit her job and return home. This decision would haunt her for days to come.
After a while she realised her going home wasn’t of much help. Her visa had been cancelled and she had burnt all her boats. When she was desperate, she decided to swallow her pride and call her former employer for help.
The salon owner was willing to give her another chance and soon she was back in Dubai. This time round, there was no talking longingly of home. She knew the reality was very different from what she perceived it to be. Her brother was never going to change his ways and her mother would continue to struggle to make a living.
All she could do was send money home to a friend who would go to her house to hand over the amount to her mother. The old lady was told to be discreet and not tell anyone about this source of income.
The years flew by and the protagonist of this piece prospered. She now had decent savings and had made herself indispensable at the salon. She was able to help with the expenses when her sister got married. My only advice to her was that she needed to be a little selfish and think of herself too.
Now, years later, she is married to a man she met online who also works in the UAE. However, she continues working at the salon as she wants to be financially independent.
I admire her perseverance in the face of adversity and the fact that she has come to terms with the fact that she will not be able to change the lives of her family members who seem to prefer living in debt rather than changing things around with help she was only too willing to give. So, she is looking after herself as this is something she has complete control over.
She continues sending money home whenever she can but she still has one more dream to fulfil. Owning a home of her own in India is what she aspires to. I am confident she will achieve this too. After all she is living in the land of opportunity.
Vanaja Rao is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad, India.