In 1989, 17-year-old Flavia Lakra left the village of Meral in Jharkhand's Gumla district, to travel more than 1,500 km across the country to Mumbai. She had dropped out of school because her family couldn't afford the expense, and she took up an offer from some relatives to help her find work in the city.
More than 30 years later, Lakra still lives and works in Mumbai, and is raising a teenaged son. She is one of tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of Adivasi women from the Chota Nagpur region who earn a living as domestic workers in the city's posh neighbourhoods. Over the years, even when they were harassed, denied wages, and worked inhuman hours every day, they persevered, carving out a space for themselves in a punishing city.
For Common Ground, Nolina Minj spoke to Lakra and three other Adivasi women domestic workers, of different ages, who left their villages at different times. While each has a unique story, Minj writes that together they “reveal a compelling – and disturbing – picture of caste, ethnic, and class cleavages in Indian society”. You can read the story here.