One day in Parul's life gives a whole new meaning to 'multitasking'. She juggles different tasks the whole day, so she can provide a decent life for her children. She works as a domestic cook, does door to door selling of clothes and grocery items like rice, oil, biscuits, soap, toothpaste, etc. in her locality with her small children in tow. Being an efficient mother she maintains a neat balance between work and family.
With Parul ... captured for life!
Parul stays in a small rented house with her children in a densely populated area in the outskirts of Guwahati. She got married at 19 and came to Guwahati, all the way from Kolkata with her husband. Naren, her husband was a auto driver. Parul was two months pregnant and had a beautiful one year old daughter when her husband passed away. Suddenly, she was left with was a rented house, responsibilities and loneliness.
“I didn't have any confidence and had no support but I had to take care of my children,” she said. Parul didn’t want to be pitied and ask for handouts, so she didn’t ask for any help from her family or friends. She knew that she had to work to earn a living. “I grabbed whatever chance I got to earn money”, says Parul. She started working as a cook in her locality. She carried her infant daughter in her arms while cooking, since there was no one to take care of the child at home. “I managed to earn Rs 8,000 per month,” she recalls. The income was sufficient to cover her rent and food for her daughter. But it wasn’t enough for other household expenses. In a few months, Parul also gave birth to her son. She was very happy with the addition to her family, but knew that she needed more income to take good care of her children. It was then that she decided to start a business.
Parul discussed her business idea with the women in the homes she worked in. She heard about getting a loan from one of them and decided to apply for one. She was introduced to a women's self-help group that would soon become her good friends. She told them her story and shared her business plan. The women together applied for a loan at Milaap through YVU to start their own respective businesses. The loan helped Parul begin a cloth business. She used the loan amount to buy clothes from Guwahati’s famous wholesale market, Fancy bazaar. She bought kurtas, dupattas, salwars, etc. Parul carries these pieces in a bag and sells them door to door. But she was not satisfied with this small rise in income. “I wanted a comfortable living for my children. They have to go to a good school and not want for anything,” she says.
That is how Parul also began buying groceries for people in the neighbourhood. After dropping her daughter at school, Parul goes out with her son and the bag of grocery items. Late in the afternoon, she picks up her daughter from school, cooks lunch at home and finishes other household tasks. Parul wants to improve her small scale business. With the increased income, she has managed to buy a sewing machine. She adds embroidery designs on the readymade clothes she buys and then sells the material at a higher price. The clean-cut designs make the cloth more appealing and attractive. Parul goes out with her children to play in a nearby park in the evening. She returns home by six and then again leaves for work. “My daughter takes care of her brother during this time," she added. Parul goes to sell the cloth materials in the nearby areas in the evening. “I don’t have a shop from where I can work, so I can’t miss out a single chance to make sales,” she says. She returns home completely exhausted after the grueling schedule, prepares dinner, gets her children to sleep, makes necessary arrangements for the next day and then goes to bed. Barely four to five hours later, she wakes up early in the morning and leaves for work without fail.
There’s no doubt that it is her love for her children that drives Parul's gruelling schedule. Her determination and perseverance left me astounded! Meeting her showed me that one can keep moving no matter what obstacles come in the way.