By V. Shourabh
An old lady sits on the platform in the city market and earns her livelihood by selling betel leaves all through the day. With a responsibility on her shoulders of earning her livelihood, 73-year-old Jamamma who finds difficulty in walking, manages to make it to the market daily without fail. With age being a major factor, Jamamma is a woman filled with passion, dedication and wants to work hard to live a respectful life. Her self-belief and love towards her job is commendable and is a source of inspiration.
Star of Mysore (SOM): Since how many years have you been selling betel leaves?
Jamamma: I have been selling betel leaves since my late twenties. From the past 40 to 45 years, I have been sitting here regularly on this very same platform. Many customers know me well and they come to me directly as we have built a rapport with each other.
SOM: Where do you get betel leaves from? Do you grow them yourself?
Jamamma: Earlier we used to grow them in nearby lands of Mysuru and then sell it. But now development of the city has been so immense that almost all lands have become sites and there are buildings all over. Now the leaves come from Nanjangud and nearby villages of Bengaluru.
SOM: What are the hardships that you face in this job?
Jamamma: There are a lot of difficulties. But I can’t sit back at home as I tend to get bored. I have got used to come here and it is an integral part of my life and I enjoy coming here. Making life out of these has been difficult. On some days, we make profits, and other days we run into loss. The leaves dry very soon. We manage to keep it fresh by sprinkling water over them and by keeping them in a soft cloth for about four days. After 4 or 5 days, the leaves cannot be used.
This situation arises many times and it hurts to throw the leaves. I find it very difficult to walk at this age. But that does not deter me. I stay at Ashokapuram and catch an auto from there, manage to walk to my platform and I sit the whole day there. My body is not coping up and I come at 1 pm and get back around 9 pm. I just realized that it has been more than 40 years at this profession and how things have changed since then. Business is different on different days. During festivals there are more customers and on some days we barely manage to make money. But hardships and competitions are bound to be there in this world. I have learnt to live with it.
SOM: Has the Government helped you in any way?
Jamamma: The rent that I pay for using this platform is very minimal. It is about Rs. 10 per day and it works out well for us. Politician Janardhana Poojary helped us by providing loans. I managed to repay the loans and we were felicitated for repaying the loan amount. The Government provides us other facilities, but now I do not depend on them.
SOM: You are one of the super women of Mysuru. Do you have anything to say about women’s empowerment?
Jamamma: All I want to say is that irrespective of gender, humanity needs to be restored in this fast-paced world where money speaks volumes and there is no room for emotions and care. This needs to change.