The fact that you have clicked on the link for this blog amidst the other trailblazing news on your social media feed today and even the blank picture did not put you off in your efforts, is in itself gratitude worthy. Thank you for reading ! We have pondered for a bit about what we should write during the current climate in the country. Storytelling is our forte and that is what we are going to continue to do. Bring forward real stories. The first one is still being read and here is another.

It is a little after noon and Rosa is unloading caddies of cleaning solutions, scrubs and sponges from the trunk of her car, while stuffing her mouth with a cold cheese sandwich. She finishes unloading, closes the trunk and swallows down the last bite hurriedly as she carries the caddies with her towards the house. It feels strangely familiar as she walks on the driveway but there is certain newness to it all.

The door opens, greetings are exchanged and she is off to her job. In the bathroom, while scrubbing the mirror covered partially in soap and toothpaste stains, she calls Pedro from her phone that is wrapped in a ziplock bag. She enquires if he has had lunch and taken his pills. They exchange logistics of dinner and groceries as any normal couple and then Rosa quietly asks him, “Did you hear the news?”

After an awkward silence they decide to talk later at home. They had jobs to finish, homes that needed to be built and homes that needed to be scrubbed and cleaned. They could talk about the wall later.

The house that Rosa is working on today is one of the rare homes where she has a conversation with the people living in the home. Today, the lady of the house is lingering in the kitchen while Rosa is cleaning the oven.

“How are the kids doing, Rosa? Did your daughter finish her nurse’s training?”

“In three more months and then she will start working. My son will start college by then.”

“Good!  How are you feeling these days?”

“Getting better,” says Rosa while pointing to the hair on her scalp that has begun to grow back.

“I am glad you are back and feeling better. I had been thinking of you all these months.”

The last time Rosa had been in this house, in a similar setting, she had mentioned about the lump under her right armpit and what the diagnosis had been. She had not known if she would be back to work again, if she would live and how much longer. She had been most uncertain if she would ever see her children whom she had not seen in fourteen years. She had been indecisive of whether she should abandon it all and go back to the children or stay on to fight a life-threatening ailment.

A lot had changed since. The lump had disappeared, taking along with it the strength in the bones, the hair on the scalp  and life’s precious saving even after the government provided low cost medical insurance. Rosa is however still debating if it was worth the risk she took fourteen years back and if she should find her way back home now. She misses the children the most. But then who pays for the college fees, the pending medical bills and the mouths to feed and how?

The guilt of not bringing the children along haunts and the guilt wears her down everyday. She had not wanted to bring them amidst the uncertainties.When she had set out with Pedro for the long  forbidden journey  on that dark summer night, she had left the children with her mother and hoped she would unite with them soon. Since then, she has been living in consolation that they were safe, they were going to school and they were not going to bed hungry.

Rosa’s story is the story of many in this country. There is no right or wrong, black or white in this story. This has come to be the existence of many who came to live here with the dream of a better life and got caught in the optimism of a better tomorrow. The conditions back home from where they came created unique circumstances for each journey. The need for money quickly grew into shackles around their feet. At a humanitarian level, this screams that there is a need for rehabilitation and reforms. A wall or a flight back home will not make the difference that Rosa’s life needs today.

People like Rosa have become the backbone of our society. A lot would not get accomplished without them. Yet, they largely remain to be an invisible part of our society. They spend their entire lives in a strange anonymity. Is this the ultimate price for a dream of a better life ?

2/100 – Stories That Should Matter To EveryOne