Padma lives in a small house on the outskirts of Muniguda town. I had been there to meet her as a part of my field trip. It was already dark outside and as I reached her house, I saw 3-4 customers standing at her shop to buy some snacks and tea from the shop which she has been running out of her home. Padma’s story is one that reflects the struggle of India women and the one who actually owns their life and with the indomitable spirit emerge victorious. Padma lives with her mother in the house. Her mother married her off to a physically challenged person who happened to be a son of block development officer (quite a respected government official in rural India). Soon after the marriage she started facing domestic violence and abuses not only from her husband but also from the family members. Not able to withstand the daily violence, she had to leave her home with her two little daughters. A little less strong woman would have had gone to her parents’ home but Padma decided to live her life on her own terms. [caption id="attachment_5994" align="alignnone" width="800"] Padma at her home making leaf plates[/caption]She decided to stay alone and make a living for herself. She started collecting leaves from the nearby forest and making leaf plates from them and sells them to the factories which makes plates. With the money earned she not only sent her daughters to school and educated them but also married them off to well to do families when they reached the age of marriage. After ten years of leaving her husband’s house, her husband came back to her but she decided not to relent to the people who had shown no mercy to her. She also made the house for herself with her earnings. Even today she gets up at 3’o clock in the morning and starts making leaf plates. Now she doesn’t go to the forests to collect leaves but buy them in the market from tribal. By 8 AM she would prepare meal for around 30 people at her home and send them to the regular customers of her home cooked food. Besides this she also sells snacks and tea throughout the day. She works for around 20 hours a day. Padma says that she never feels tired with her work as she has put all her faith and love into her work. The smile on her face and the shine in her eyes gives the one glimpse of how proud she is of her achievements.
She is the strongest woman I have ever met