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Rani came to Oman in 1998 and worked in Salalah as a house-help, before moving to Muscat. Image Credit: Supplied

Muscat: After spending 23 years in Oman, Rani Ashokan is returning for good to her home town Vadakkanchery in the south Indian state of Kerala.

All along working as a domestic help in Indian homes, Rani managed to build a modern house in her home town, provided education for her only daughter who is a graduate now and married her off with 30 tolas of gold (360 grams or Dh75,000 at present gold price).

Though Rani initially stayed with her husband in Oman, he left the country to look after their home and poultry farm back home.

Expert cook

Rani came to Oman in 1998 and worked in Salalah as a house-help, before moving to Muscat. “I started off working as domestic help in many Indian homes, when I came to Oman. But as years went on, I started getting recurrent back pain and stopped my cleaning chores, like sweeping and mopping. By then most of the homes that I was working with had engaged me for cooking.”

The homes that she goes to cook for are all Malayalees households. “I have only received praises for my cooking, be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes. People like my style of chicken preparation where I use coconut ground with spices.”

Struck by COVID-19

Two months ago when Rani was tested positive for COVID-19, for the first time she felt that she was alone in a foreign country.

“I stay in a shared accommodation where there are many people like me sharing the rooms, kitchen and toilet. COVID-19 is such a disease that no one wants to take any risk. Thankfully it was a milder form of the virus that got me. My floor-mates, would make rice-porridge and some vegetable stew and keep it outside my room.

I was feeling tired all the time, with absolutely no hunger. But I thought of my daughter and husband back home and would drag myself to eat the stuff made by my mates. My friends and those for whom I worked for would message me daily. I didn’t have strength to hold the phone, but the medicines and vitamin tablets sent by my well-wishers, brought me back to normal in two weeks. It was then I decided that I would go back to my country. It is about time that I did that.” Rani lost her mother to COVID-19, around the time when she tested positive.

After returning to her village, Rani has plans to start organic farming with her 45 cent plot (19602.02 square feet) which is an arable land.

“I have some ideas and there are educated people residing in Muscat, known to me who have promised to help me with ideas. I might start a home stay and taxi service as I have a big farm house and these are things that will be in demand in coming days.”