Seventy-year-old Gangamma, of Vizag, is more than just a fruit seller. She sings folk songs as she chats with Jaya Siva Murty.
When I ask her for more oranges at the already quoted price, she begins an impromptu rendition of how Rukmini and Satyabhama fought over Lord Krishna. Seventy-year-old Gangamma has a toothless smile and a song on her lips. Commuting from Kotapadu every day, where she takes the 7 AM auto to come to the city, she shares that she doesn’t have time for an interview. “If I sit and talk to you, all my time will get wasted”, she argues, adding that she has to be on her way to sell the fruits.
I agree to buy a bag of oranges at her price, provided she sings me a song and gives an interview. Gangamma agrees, and renders ‘Gangamma Talli’ for me, continuously smiling as she sings. She also tells me that she has been selling local produce of Vizag for many years now. Be it the seasonal oranges, the naturally grown lentils, or even the local variety of cumin from her village, everything Gangamma has is top in quality. “I only bring the best Amma”, she insists, being a little put-off when I use the words ‘hope it’s good quality.’
Sharing about her family, the fruit seller tells that she is from a family of three sisters. Married for many years, she has a grown-up son too. “My husband, son and I stay in the village. My husband recently met with an accident and is bedridden”, she adds. “My son too doesn’t work anywhere and stays at home”, she laments. “He is asking me to charge Rs. 1000 for my songs too, but who will give that kind of money”, she asks.
Though being the sole breadwinner in her house, she bears the burden of her wares and troubles with a smile. She is brimming with energy and full of life. Claiming to know over a hundred Janapada Geyalu (folk songs), she is perhaps one of the few of a disappearing tribe of people. As I frantically try to capture fragments of her songs on my phone, in the midst of her busy schedule, I sincerely hope that her zeal will live on.