“I feel vulnerable at times when my business faces little ups and downs as it happens with every other individual, but this vulnerability does not make me weak instead makes me feel closer to my children who strengthen my inner soul,” this was the reply of Shanta a woman who proved herself by fighting with the system in her own way.
Shanta always saw her father working and her mother managing the household. In fact, in other houses too, women would not do any job outside and never got the chance to earn respect outside and also did not get any inside the four walls of the house.
Her married life was no better. Being married in a conservative family, she found no free space to breathe.
It was a big turn for her which came in an unusual way and life surprised her.
It was the time when she was a mother of four daughters and her husband told her to make their youngest daughter a Devdasi in order to please God and be blessed by a son.
She knew that by making her daughter a Devdasi her girl will serve the deity in a temple for the rest of her life.
As a woman, she did not have much say in the family matters of important decisions. Her frustration and anguish kept bottling up and it all came out one day. That day, she didn’t say much, but left the house along with her daughters and came to her native village where she had her own land.
Since then the real struggle started, which also helped her to break away from all the stereotypes. She decided to start her own business.
She worked day and night to make her land productive. She started growing bananas in her farmland. Every day was crucial for her. It was hard for her emotionally to lose all relations forever.
She started her own fruit stall. But the biggest concern she had was to save enough money to help her daughters finish their education.
Shanta never got the chance to complete her education because of society. She knew the power of education and somehow got her children admitted to the local school.
She works hard from dawn till dusk. She is a one-woman show. She takes care of the fruit production, its transportation, the sales and also taking out time for her children.
Shanta points out: “Throughout my life, I have been pulled and question for listening to my heart. I have been judged by people for leaving my husband’s house and setting up my own world. People judge women and underestimate their struggles with their shallow thinking.”
However, she is a true fighter. With all her problems still very much there in her life, she is doing things that she loves.
She continues her small business of fruit selling, saves money, and most importantly, is ensuring her daughter complete their education and achieve their dreams.
Photos: Tulika Bhattacharya
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