True stories of ordinary people with grit and determination.
Story number one
I was going to one of the market places in Yelahanka where a lot of street side vendors and cart vendors sell their wares. I saw an old woman sitting all by herself with vegetables all around her. She wore a brown sweater with a scarf. It was a cold evening. I went up to her and told her that I had to ask her some questions which were a part of my project in college. She agreed and I started with asking her name and why she was here selling vegetables.
This is the story of Venkatamma, a vegetable vendor. She said she is 77 years old. She doesn’t know her birth date because her mother didn’t tell her. She hails from Katagondanahalli from Hoskote. When she was young she used to work as a labourer lifting silt from wells for which she was paid ‘one anna’ and the adults were paid ‘two annas’ .
She was married when she was 12 years old to Muniswamappa. She had eight children. Four of them are girls and four of them are boys. Her memory is sharp. She told me their names and what they do. Nagaraja passed away 15 years ago due to an illness. Muniappa works as a car driver, Venkatesha does masonry, Manja does plumbing, driving, masonry, flower decoration and car washing. The girls are married and live a little far away. They come and visit her and take care of her occassionally. When Manja was eight months old her husband passed away, this was 25 years ago. They do not have any property her children had fought over the house they own.
Muniyappa and Manja are taking care of her now but she still wants to earn her own money. “On good days I sell Rs.1000 worth of vegetables and on average I sell Rs.700 worth of vegetables.” The civic authorities ask her to move to a different place but she can’t because she is old. The MLA of Yelahanka told her that they would give her a cart that she could push around and sell vegetables. She was told to go to the BBMP Office in Byatarayanapura but they asked if she was educated. When she said ‘no’, they told her to get a transfer certificate from her younger or elder brothers who went to school. She tried to get the transfer certificate but could not get it. They also could not get her an income tax certificate because she did not have a caste certificate. She has a voter’s Identity card, ration card and and Aadhar Card. In spite of running from pillar to post she has not got a push cart till now. The truth is that, now she is rather old to push a cart laden with vegetables.