A Poor Woman And Her Grit To Win #Poverty #blogprompt
"Extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere. - Kofi Annan"
Sarala descended the stairs panting for breath. She packed the water bottles, snacks and other essentials meticulously that were needed for a road trip. Running along the length and breadth of her house she completed every chore. She didn't feel an iota of fatigue as the happiness of visiting her maternal home had overpowered every exhaustion.
She found that her husband and daughter were gently swaying back and forth on the hammock, delighting in its motion. It appeared as though the hammock lulled them into a profound sense of relaxation.
"Tia, get inside it's time to get ready. We are already running late," said Sarala.
Tia reluctantly got down the swing and had stomped into the house. Sarala applied oil to Tia's hair and gently began combing it. Soon Tia was ready for the trip her hair done in piggy tails, dressed in a pink frock and pom shoes adorning her little feet. Sarala also got ready in a cotton salwar kameez and her hair done in a messy bun.
"I'm going to my maternal home. There's no need for any makeup," she thought as her lower lips curved into a smile.
Her husband carried the bags in one hand and held Tia's hand in the other and they walked to their car. Sarala locked their home and gave the lock three thuds to ensure it was locked properly. She walked to the car and the thought of going to her maternal home had plastered a smile across her face.
Soon the much-awaited journey began. Listening to peppy music and munching on the packet of chips the trio were rejoicing at the moment. After a while, Sarala found that Tia had fallen asleep and her eyelids had begun to droop too. She reclined her seat and threw herself to sleep.
After a few hours, she woke up with a jolt. "I had forgotten to buy fruits and flowers for mom," she said rubbing her eyes. Her husband responded with a quick nod.
"Stop the car if you find any fruit vendor," she said.
"We are now travelling on a highway dear. We will reach your hometown in about an hour. We will buy from one of the local vendors. The flowers too will remain fresh." he said convincingly.
She slowly lowered the window and glared out of it. She loved watching the streets she once grew up on. Her eyes fell on a young woman who sat under a palm tree weaving flowers into a garland.
"Let's buy flowers from her," said Sarala.
The tires screeched and the car had come to a halt. Sarala got down her car and walked towards the woman. The palm trees rustled in the occasional cool breeze that gently swirled around. But the sun had almost bronzed her skin. It was scorching hot that she had found it difficult to breathe. The sun pierced her skin like dart pins. As she tried to free herself from the oppression of the heat she observed the flower vendor do her job nonchalantly undeterred by the heat. Her eyes fell on a little boy who played with the stones that lay nearby. He was barefooted and wore no shirt.
Sarala walked to the woman and had asked her to pack a little quantity of every variety of flowers she had. She also had asked her to pack the two kgs of apples, two dozens of bananas and other variety of fruits the vendor had.
The woman shook her head in disbelief and stared at Sarala.
Sarala smiled and asked," What happened?"
"It's for the first time in two months somebody is purchasing in bulk from me." said the woman.
Sarala nodded and asked, " Is that your son?"
"Yes." the woman replied.
"How do you work amid so much heat? " asked Sarala as she wiped the sweat beads that danced on her forehead.
"I don't have any other option didi." the woman smiled.
Sarala seated herself on a stone slab that lay there. Knowing that she must be tired, her husband walked to her with a water bottle in hand. Sarala thanked him and had whispered something in his ears. He nodded, walked back to the car and returned with a basket of water bottles, juice and some snacks.
Sarala walked to the boy and offered him the biscuits while he looked at his mom for a green signal before he accepts the goodies from a stranger. His mother gave him a nod. He accepted the biscuit packet and had thanked Sarala.
Sarala walked back to the vendor and offered her water and juice. She looked at her hesitantly but Sarala insisted that she accepted it.
"Thank you didi." said the woman.
"What's your name?" asked Sarala.
"Lakshmi," she answered.
"How do you manage to make both ends meet?" asked Sarala.
"I sell flowers and fruits from morning to late in the noon and then sell rotis at night," said Lakshmi.
"I work as a domestic help sometimes. I can do any just job under the sun. I wish that my son could go to school. My dream is to see him as an educated man in future. I don't want him to face this plight. Let him not carry forward the hierarchy of my bad luck." continued Lakshmi her eyes welled up with tears.
Sarala was in awe of Lakshmi after learning about her outlook towards life.
"What does your husband do?" asked Sarala feeling guilty for intruding into her private space.
"He left me a year after my son was born. He had abandoned us for no reason. My parents had blamed me for not being a dutiful wife. They declined from accepting me and my son. We both had to spend several days under this tree, our throats parched with thirst and stomach rumbling with hunger," explained Lakshmi.
"I had resorted to begging so that I could feed my son. But I could no more face myself. I was hale and healthy. So I had decided that I would work hard and toil to find for my son. I began to work at a construction site as a daily wage labourer and after saving little money I am selling fruits and flowers now." she continued.
"Oh I'm sorry," said Sarala.
"It's okay didi. I am enough for me. I am now confident that I will be able to take care of my son and make sure he grows up to be a successful person." she answered confidently.
Her answer had hit Sarala hard. "I have everything in life and yet end up lamenting sometimes. Look at her optimistic approach towards life." she thought.
"Didi after a year I'm planning to send my son to the school located in the neighbourhood. It is an English medium school," she said proudly.
"The fees are a little high but I'll manage. I have also started stitching blouses and I do repair work too. I will save every penny for his education " she continued.
Sarala who was initially sympathetic towards Lakshmi had now developed respect.
"You will be successful for sure," said Sarala.
Lakshmi smiled and continued to pack the flowers.
"Didi why don't you go and sit in the car. I'll. get you the flowers and fruits once I\"m done packing. You can't bear this heat." suggested Lakshmi.
"I'm fine here. Talking to you is like being under a shade. Sadly, you and your son are forced to bear the brunt of the sun," said Sarala.
"Oh, nature is our mother. The sun is now a little angry with his kids hence this heat. Very soon nature will bless us with rains." said Lakshmi.
Sarala was once again astonished at her positivity.
"Didi here are your fruits and flowers. Thank you for stopping by," said Lakshmi.
Lakshmi counted the money Sarala had just paid her.
Sarala was about to leave when " Didi you have paid two thousand rupees extra." said Lakshmi.
"That's for your son's education," said Sarala
"I,'m not sure if I can accept this didi as I have not worked enough to receive this amount," said Lakshmi hesitantly.
"This is a fee I'm paying you for teaching me positivity and the art of being content," said Sarala.
Lakshmi flashed a smile and grabbed two mangoes and handed it to Sarala and said, "Please accept this as a gift from me for your daughter." pointing to Tia in the car.
The respect Sarala had for Lakshmi had now grown to admiration.
"Didi we may be poor but we are honest," said Lakshmi.
"Please do drop by at dinner time if you want to have the tastiest roti sabzi." she continued.
Sarala smiled and nodded appreciating her for her entrepreneurial skills.
She got into the car and said, "Let's buy some more flowers and fruits from her after a couple of days. The money might be of some help to her."
"Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it iman-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings." - Nelson Mandela
"An independent woman in real sense." she thought.
"I have today received education on positivity, grit and art of being content from her. Who's educated me or Lakshmi?" pondered Sarala?
"She knows the value of money and education better than us," remarked her husband.
Sara's smiled reminiscing Nelson Mandela's quote, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
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