Domestic helper to start farm stay, taxi service with Oman savings

Testing positive for Covid-19 two months ago was the last straw.

Ms Rani Ashokan (right) has decided to return to her home in India after working for 23 years as a domestic helper in Oman.

"For the first time I felt that I was alone in a foreign country," she told Gulf News. "I stay in a shared accommodation where there are many people like me sharing the rooms, kitchen and toilet.

"My floormates would make rice porridge and some vegetable stew and keep it outside my room. But I was feeling tired all the time, with absolutely no hunger.

"I thought of my daughter and husband back home and would drag myself to eat the stuff made by my mates.

"My friends and those for whom I worked for would message me daily.

"I didn't have strength to hold the phone, but the medicines and vitamin tablets sent by my well-wishers brought me back to normal in two weeks. It was then I decided that I would go back to my country. It is about time that I did that."

Ms Rani arrived in Oman in 1998 and worked in Salalah before moving to Muscat.

"I started off working as a domestic helper in many Indian homes when I came to Oman," she told Gulf News.

"But, as the years went on, I started getting recurrent back pain and stopped my cleaning chores, like sweeping and mopping.

"By then most of the homes that I was working at had engaged me for cooking."

She received praise for her cooking style at all the Malayalee households that she worked at.

"I have only received praise for my cooking, be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes," she said. "People like my style of chicken preparation where I use coconut ground with spices."

Ms Rani initially stayed with her husband in Oman. But he left a few years later to look after their home and poultry farm in India.

She felt more lonely after she lost her mother to Covid-19 around the time she tested positive.

"Covid-19 is a disease where no one wants to take any risk," she said.

"Thankfully, it was a milder form of the virus that got me. My friends and those for whom I worked for would message me daily to cheer me up."

After returning to her home town Vadakkanchery in Kerala, Ms Rani plans to start organic farming on the 0.18ha plot that she owns.

She can live quite comfortably, having built a modern house there and educating her only daughter, who is a graduate now.

She even gifted 350g of gold (worth $28,380) to her daughter for her wedding.

"I have some ideas and there are educated people in Muscat known to me who have promised to help me with ideas," said Ms Rani.

"I might start a home stay and taxi service as I have a big farm house and these are things that will be in demand in the coming days."

 
 
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