Saturday, 9 June 2018

A customer speaks

Received 50 of these sturdy, handmade cloth bags from the women of Palaguttapalle, Dalitwada (Andhra Pradesh).  
If you think you really went " green" when you stepped in an AC mall and paid for the paper bags, you're welcome to smell, buy or just take these and help connect our Anithas, Varalus, Eashwarammas, Ranis with the spaces they should own but they just don't. 
These bags come from women who persist, nevertheless. These are women who constantly fight their own hurdles and yet find strength in deified Ganesha. These are women who fed the rest of us, and are now drought stricken. These are women who still feed any hungry soul on their doorstep, without hoarding their little rations. These are women who scream through their silence. Nevertheless, these are the women who persist.
Many of my friends think these women need saving. Urban feminists try to save rural women from veils, bangles, bindis, flowers and "patriarchy". We don't need to. We don't need to dismiss their systems, traditions and practices in order to feel meaningful and educated. We need to stand up with them, stop patronizing them and act when and where it matters the most. We need to learn basic survival skills from them and come out of the ignorant buffoonery which confuses a college degree with education. If it weren't for our privileged exit doors, we couldn't last two days without them, and they would still save us.
If the gender debate hits you hard, my very feminist friends, look into the eyes of those who you consider weak and find a mirror in them. Look around and find the very, many mirrors. Help support rural livelihoods around you and see how the silenced, oppressed informal economy feeds you, sustains you and enables you to smirk and shrug everytime you can afford to.
There are qualities and skills far more important than what the socioeconomic engineering has led us to believe. To have the heart to give, and to do it with grace, is what our rural hinterlands teach us day in and day out. It's time we really listened 

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