Languages, over the ages, have been known to unite cultures. However, it is the one reason which is forcing thousands of migrant mothers from West Bengal to live without their children in Rajasthan.
They fear that their children might lose the ‘Bangla’ touch and could be considered non-Bengalis once they go back to their home State which can hinder their prospects for jobs in their home State.
To secure their future, the women leave children with their parents, in-laws and relatives, and work as house maids for almost 16 hours a day to ensure their kids get a decent life there in back home in West Bengal.
“I left my elder kid with his grandparents when he turned one. Similarly, my daughter aged 1.5 years, too, was left with them. I wanted to ensure they read and write in Bangla in their home surroundings as well as in the school, which they might not have been able to do in Rajasthan. In that case, they would have been called non-Bengalis in Bengal and their inability to speak in the local dialect would have eliminated them from securing jobs in Bengal where language remains a basic criteria to get the jobs,” said Sandhya (35) who has been working in Rajasthan for the past 10 years.
Another woman, Sapna, also from Bengal, has a similar story to tell. She, too, left her son when he turned a year old with her family in Bengal. “Although it is difficult to stay without kids thousands of kilometres away from them, thinking about their safe future, we are bound to take the decision,” she says.
All these young mothers are adept with present job situation in India. Sandhya says: “There are jobs which clearly want candidates to be proficient in Bangla. If you are a Bengali and not proficient in Bangla, you cannot qualify for a job,” she says.
Two brothers of Sandhya have also left their kids back in Bengal with their grandparents. “It’s been three years since we last met our kids. It’s difficult to commute as distance is too much and so is the travel cost. We talk to them twice a week,” says Somu, one of her brothers.
Between 2001 and 2011, around 5.8 lakh people migrated for work. While Uttar Pradesh topped the charts with 37.3 lakh, Bihar ranked second with 22.6 lakh migrants and Rajasthan stood third with 6.6 lakh migrants.
Sapna says: “Women from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been staying with the families here as they don’t face such language barrier in their home state. But for us, language is a barrier.”
Meanwhile, as these mothers work hard to give their children a decent amount for quality education, they also have a common grudge: “Why can’t there be one language which can ensure the best life for our kids. We too want to stay as a family with kids, but this language barrier has failed us to do that. Hope our kids shall have a sound future and they shall not be forced to migrate,” says Sandhya with heavy voice.