Published: 07th March 2020
Everyday Sheroes: How domestic help Rina Satpati, beat an abusive marriage and rebuilt her life
In our run-up to International Women's Day 2020, we curated this series of stories of women who aren't extraordinary — but our world may stop going around smoothly if they call it a day
A teacher, a tailor and household help — 27-year-old Rina Satpati from Kolkata dons all three hats with grace and mastery. With a life that is nothing short of a masala Bollywood movie — with struggle and triumph at every other corner — Rina is thankful for being born a woman because she would not have been able to endure and succeed if she wasn't, she says with an inspiring sense of purpose.
Rina fell in love at the tender age of 15 and got married after she dropped out in Class IX. "I met him at a family function and got married hastily," says Rina. But it did not turn out to be a 'happily ever after' scenario. She left her husband after 11 long and painful years. But she is happy she did. "It is better to be alone than to be in an abusive relationship. Women should be financially independent. That way, it would be easier to move on if a relationship does not work. And not just that, it also gives you a sense of belonging, an identity, which I think, every woman deserves," she says.
I want a house of my own, a small one would suffice. But something that would be mine where we can all live together happily. That's my only dream
Rina Satpati, Domestic help
She had learnt tailoring after her second child was born and that helped when she walked out. "It was a liberating experience. I had been teaching kids in the locality already but learning a skill that let me do something on my own and also help me be financially stable felt great. It not only gave me financial independence but also the confidence to accept to myself that I am capable enough to take care of myself and my children and that it's better than the situation I was at that point of time. Walking out is not always a bad option," says Rina. "At this day and age, when women are conquering the world, it is important that we understand and appreciate why it is great to be a woman. We have enormous endurance levels and once we set our sights on something, we achieve it no matter what," she adds.
Rina remarried recently and now takes care of the domestic needs of a housing society in the outskirts of Kolkata. Her day now begins early — after getting her daughter ready for school, Rina finishes her own household chores before she takes care of the families she tends to. After a day-long tryst with food, utensils, clothes, detergent and dust, she retires to her stitching and knitting. She could have had a different life but she never got the chance to aspire for anything for herself, she feels, "It all happened so fast that I did not have time to think about what I was good at or what profession would suit me. I like the tailoring work that I manage to keep up on the side — that's my nest of solace."
Born and brought up in a humble family, she does not want her kids to have the life she has had. All she dreams of is a house of their own where she and her family can stay happy, and her kids settled well — Subhas, her first-born, studies in Class V and Rina wishes a respectable career for him. "I don't want to force a specific job on him. I just want him to be stable in life and do something respectable. My daughter, Sreshtha, is in Class I and she wants to be a teacher when she grows up," she adds and smiles.