Monday, 28 April 2014


Annapurna, 29, has been trying to rebuild her life. She has been through an abusive marriage, a suicide attempt, a broken marriage, all before she turned 30. And she has retained her goodness, and kindness and basic faith in life.

I have also been impressed at the quiet way her confidence and enterprise has built up over the years.

She would procure, pack and parcel tamarind to the shops were were able to suggest to her in Chennai. She sourced groundnuts and cleaned, deseeded, packed and sent them. She got amla from the nearby forest and made whatever products we suggested. Our ayurvedic doctor Dr. Girija procured from her, and the patients swore by the effectiveness of this.  She does a neat, through, honest job - as do all villagers.

When we suggested pickles, she systematically procured, cleaned, dried and ground all spices and made tomato and gongura pickles, When I told her that those were much appreciated, that mattered to her more than the money that came. On her own she trained as a tailor at the local tailor, and is the person to whom all the local women go to get their blouses stitched, and all the girls to get the pavadais stitched. She capably experiments with newer patterns also.

But it is now drought. The resource base is exhausuted in a drought. Annapurna was telling me, 'Madam I was making some money by sending to Chennai tamarind and amla powder. Now there is no tamarind as the trees have all been cut. After the red sanders issue, the people have no access to the forest for MFP also, and so there is no amla.' ! To make pickles everything has to be purchased - earlier the chillies were grown, and also the oilseeds. That makes pickling more expensive a proposition. I asked her if her tailoring was going on. She said that when people dont have money for food in this drought, were can they get blouses stitched. It is all so inter-connected.

Since one year she has been ably co-ordinating the efforts of the group of women who have been stitching bags for a wider and wider market.


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