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A light on India’s women breadwinners

This Women’s Day 2021, we talk to the breadwinners who have carved their own in the name of both the reliability and the strength of the road

Elemma John, Fisherman, Thiruvananthapuram

Balancing a heavy aluminum vessel with fresh fish on its head is a skill that Elemma John has completed in 45 years.

At the age of 26, I started selling fish door-to-door. After my husband, John fell ill, it is my earnings that helped raise my three daughters and son. My husband was a fisherman and had our own boat and nets. But all of that was sold to meet his medical expenses. “

In a checker Cali Lungi, Long blouse and a Thothu Thrown over his shoulder, Alaimma is a figure of resilience. Her weather-faced face smiles as she pulls out a small aluminum container in which she holds the big fish, overturns it and sits on it to talk about life.

#ChooseToChallenge A Spotlight on India's Women Breadwinners on Hard Roads

With the help of a fishing community in Waitukadu, Elemma remembers her mother every day from the village on the city’s beach, 10 kilometers away. “Many women of my generation followed in his footsteps. Rain or shine, we had to reach the city and back again. No bus will allow us to travel with our fish wicker baskets. “The day still begins. Elimma makes way for Vetukadu or Vizhinjam near Kovalam to buy the day’s catch. But now, he and two others take an autorickshaw to the city and then go home to their regular customers. They each have a passage, and they sell the fish and it for the buyer.

“Earlier, after we were done for the day, we used to go to the Karamna River in Adapazanji and take a bath. Now-a-days different types of households allow us to use the washroom in our premises and store the fish in an icebox. In the evening, we sit on the side of the road in Vajuthakoud to sell fish. That is when stopped by the officer-employee. “Elemma is grateful that she was able to educate her children and get married. His son and a son-in-law are in West Asia. “One grandson studies engineering and the other works for a company in Technopark. My children are better than where we started. I keep reminding them that they have to be saved for one rain. ”

Alankrita Narula, Paratha Vendor, Delhi

Every morning, the ornate Narula would leave in her city-girl clothes and one salwar kameez. She wakes up at 6 in the morning, cooking, so she can get out on the road by 9.30 a.m. to set him up .La (Cart), Balaji Parathe in a market near his apartment building in Dwarka, Delhi.

After spending 13 years in advertising, Alankrita decided to follow her passion. She says, she says, shaking her tongue more easily than one who takes to the ground – where pushing the car, standing next to the fire and working in the sun and rain until 5.30 in the evening is no easier is.

She started in January 2020, mostly consisting of daily wagers, Uber drivers, electricians and plumbers. “Initially I just thought of serving aaloo ke parathe With curd And pickles. I priced it at ₹ 50. Some days I realized that people want to eat, and ₹ 50 is too much for anyone who hardly earns 200 rupees a day, ”she says. He brought his prices down to 20, and offered a vegetable.

Her family was nervous about how she would work on the road, but Alankrita says she never faced a safety problem. The only problem is with those who come in big cars and those who bargain.

“I feel that I am privileged, so sometimes I wonder whether I should be on the road or not. It may not be an option for anyone else, and it makes me feel a little guilty to eat in someone else’s street food business. “

Alardini Gautami, Vegetable Dealer, Hyderabad

Thirty-eight-year-old Elardini Gautami does not know how to read or write. However, his determination to educate his daughters inspired him to work hard. Her day starts at 6 in the morning when she goes with her husband to the vegetable market at her two-wheeler. Once she returns, he arranges them in a push cart and off he goes. Allardini says, “My husband is a painter. I used to work as a -time domestic help. Earnings were not enough. Especially when my daughter passed her tenth grade, we realized that it would be difficult for us to send her to college. “

Allardini (in yellow saree) selling vegetables to a customer in her

Alardini (in yellow sari) selling vegetables to a customer

“I don’t want to end my daughters as domestic help. Driving around is not easy, but then I have to do it to run my house and earn enough to pay my daughters fees.”

Allardini’s elder daughter is in college and the younger is in class VIII. Elardini is satisfied that her daughters do well. “I send them to a private school and wish they could in English.” She acknowledges that her work is challenging. “When my body does not allow me to move the car, I find a convenient and safe place and sell from there. I cannot drink much water because there are no toilets. It would cause headaches and body aches.” It is a struggle to live by the road, but I will take it up for my daughters. ”

Raji Muthuraj, Bhajji Dealer, Kochi

Raji Muthuraj arrives in an auto rickshaw in his pushcart located at Vittila, Kochi. She and her husband Muthuraj have day supplies for them. Loaded into a three-wheeler is a gas cylinder and stove, for which there are various containers filled with batter and sliced ​​onions. Wada, For boiled eggs BhajjiFor potato mixture Bonder, Fridge for raw bananas and peppers, and utensils in addition to water, oil and milk. They arrive at 3 pm, which starts at 4 pm. By the time they reach home it is 10 o’clock in the night.

#ChooseToChallenge A Spotlight on India's Women Breadwinners on Hard Roads

An adjective persuaded often uses “super” – the Wada Is super, as is tea and crisp egg Bhajji. Cheerful with a ready smile, Raji is a regular regular, most of whom have been in Vittila for 10 years. “Ever since we started, 20 years ago, I have been constantly on behalf of my husband – day or night, rain or shine. There is no other way to do this work.

He is the heart of the business, which has helped him to raise and educate his four children – three girls and one boy; Two of them were married. She also sees large purchases such as chit funds, television, and payment of EMIs, usually after the finances of a family deciding on investment.

“The last year has been very difficult for us financially, like it has been for everyone. The first 50 days of lockdown, the business came to a standstill. “We are behind on the payment of some of our chit fund investments,” she says. [near Vyttila] And built our house without any housing loan, which earned money, “she says. This money also goes with the family to places like Tirupati, Madurai or Kanyakumari.” In the end, only two things mattered – the food we eat. And the places we visited! “

With inputs from Sunlini Mathew, Saraswati Nagarajan, Shilpa Nair Anand and Prabalika M Borah

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