A life that has given her a husband who drinks and a child with polio, Lakshmi, a flower seller from Visakhapatnam, balances it all with a smile.
“I live in Anandapuram district of Visakhapatnam and have been born and brought up there. I got married when I was perhaps 14 or 15 years old, as per the usual custom. Girls in my community are usually married off within one year of having attained puberty. My husband is a daily wage worker. He is a good person and looks after me well. He works hard but because he drinks liquor every day, his earnings are not sufficient. So, my family suggested that I work too, and the money will help me buy something for my two sons, aged 11 and 9 years old. My younger son has polio, so I need to look after his needs too.
I get up at as early as 3 AM and go to the market to buy vegetables. I tie them up in polythene covers and then board the bus at Anandapuram to come to the RTC complex. I sell vegetables near Rama Talkies and then come to Dwarakanagar. Most of the people I sell to are repeat customers. Though people ask me to get specific vegetables from time to time, the basket gets heavy and I’m not able to carry that load. So I bring a limited quantity and sell it off by 11AM. After that I head back home, have my lunch and spend time with my children. I earn Rs.150 to Rs. 200 per day as profits. The past month has been very hot, but conditions at home force me to work, because only then can I earn money. I hope to continue this work so I can buy some things for my children and also keep some money aside for them. I don’t plan to open a shop, because then I’ll have to open it every day. Now, I can work whenever I want to.
When I’m not working I’m home. We don’t go out anywhere. I haven’t seen any movies and do not even know what a cinema hall looks like from the inside. We have no inlaws and my family lives with my parents and younger brother. I believe in God and hope that He has some good plans for us.’
There are many women like Lakshmi who earn money doing such odd jobs. Purchasing from them directly supports their families. And each of us can make a little difference when we buy from them.