Meet 85-year-old Rama Naidu, who sells plates made of adda leaves for a living. Despite being old and weak, his hand trembling as he speaks, he prefers to earn for himself rather than depend on his sons.
“I come all the way from L kota to sell adda leaves made by the people in my village. It takes me two hours to reach the city. I start at my village early in the morning at 5 AM and change a bus. I reach Vizag by 7:30 AM, have breakfast at a little shop there and then set out for sales, with my bundle atop my head. I need to walk around and go from one door to another to sell my stock. I walk around the locality till 4 PM, have tea and then head back to my village. I need to catch the 5 PM bus, as it is the last one to my village.
Today there aren’t many buyers as there once used to be. Plastic plates and polythenes have replaced these leaves. But there are some steady customers who buy whenever I go, so I usually visit all their homes. I even go to temples and small hotels who buy from time to time. While small hotels and temples use lesser leaves today, I hope to get some business so I visit them every time I come. Yes, the work is difficult as I have to walk around a lot. But then, this is the only work I know and I’m going to do it for as long as I can. I was never educated because it was not thought to be important during that time in my village. Even my children didn’t attend school. They don’t continue the work that I am doing because it doesn’t pay them much. They are working in paint shops back in my village, as that pays better. My two sons are married and are settled in the village. I have grandchildren too.
I don’t like to depend on others and so I sell these leaves. The sales vary and festivals are usually the time when they go up. I usually come once a week and bring more stock before festivals as people usually buy at that time. Every trip I make costs me Rs.100, and I manage to make a profit of Rs.100 for every trip too. That is enough for me and my wife to eke out a living.”
We at Yo! Vizag salute this man who is old by age but has a youthful energetic determination. We pray that he remains strong and safe for a long time.