Zarina has an age-old bawri with salt water at home, but she does not sell the water.
Zarina, mother of ten and of very limited means herself, provides water free to her neighbours in Indira Nagar, Mankhurd, a slum in Mumbai. With no supply system in place, the slum’s residents buy drinking water as well as salt water (khara paani) from the ‘water mafia’. Khara Paani comes from numerous illegal bawries. This is used for washing clothes and utensils, bathing or for toilets.
Zarina has an age-old bawri with salt water at home, but she does not sell the water. “How can I sell water? When the Almighty has taught enough lessons in life, how could I sell the water?” she says.
Zarina struggles with her ten children, including the two who are mentally retarded. Her husband has left it to her to bring up the children. “We do zari work at home, which brings Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 2,000 a month,” she says. Zarina says her family never faces a summer water crisis since she has a well. She cannot afford to send her children to school, though. “What can I do? I know they are growing up without education. Moreover, two children are mentally retarded”, she says. For Zarina, life is a painful grind, but that does not stop her serving scarce water, free.