Those Ordinary Women In My Extraordinary Year

by | Sep 4, 2018

This post is a photo blog of some powerful women roles i experienced through my fellowship journey and that made me marvel and feel humbled.

The word Aaji in Marathi translates to grandmother. Most of the Aajis of my villages don’t know Hindi or any other language. They just speak and understand Marathi. Earlier, I used to find it difficult to conversate with them, but gradually I started understanding their emotions and a few words which are similar to Hindi, Marathi having its origin in the same script as Hindi.

But conversating with my cute Aajis with language barrier has been a beautiful experience. They speak about a lot of things happening with them, they smile, they cry, they say a lot of things. I hardly understand anything but yes, they feel better after sharing. And there is this sense of unconditional love beaming from them.
Here is a guide to starting a conversation with them. You need to ask 3-4 basic questions.

  1. Namaskar Aaji, Kassa Kaye? (Hi Aaji, How are you?)
  2. Jevan Jhala Ka? (Have you eaten food?)
  3. Shetaat Jato Ka? (Do you go to your farm fields?)
  4. Tumchi Tabiyat Kashi Aahe? (How is your health?)

Then just sit back and listen, to see their lives unfold effortlessly in front of you. They may like you and offer you something to eat. Smile when they smile and feel the beauty of their lives.

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I used to wonder, how these ladies will survive without water in the times of drought. How can one imagine life without water. But in the dry season of Maharashtra, I was amazed to see how closely tied they are to all the household related water decisions. They collect water and regulate the level of their usage. They walk for miles to bring water, carrying 4-7 heavy earthen pots over their head. They are warriors, they fight battles every day. Out of various development projects, the projects led by ladies, tend to have the best outcome. If women are included in decisions pertaining to development in the area, they and their children would be the first to pursue and get benefited.

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She was shy at first, but she stood in her best pose for the click. Clad in a beautiful blue saree which she only wears while going out to market, the lady belongs to a tribal village Chinchvad in Dolkhamb block of Shahpur, Maharashtra. The packet over her head is no less than her crown. She walks with poise wearing those chappals like Cinderella walked in her golden sandals. Oh, look at her smile! she knows she is beautiful. Her bangles, her nose ring, that Mangalsutra around her neck and yes the Bindi. She is a diva of her world.

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She looks excited, you know why? Because other than some groceries, she is also carrying some Vadapav (a famous Maharashtrian snack)  for her kids. She is excited to see her kids eating what they love. I can imagine the scene. The moment she will reach, her kids will come running to her, leaving all that they were doing. They will dance around her and wait for her to take out that scrumptious Vadapav rapped in an old newspaper. I can imagine what it does to a mother, that feeling.

It has been more than 9 years now since I stepped out of my home to do good with my life. Yes, they say the decision was right. However, I doubt … there has not been a day; I did not miss my mother and her love for me. And in a lot of ways, going away from home and my mother in this fellowship year has truly been homecoming for me. I can’t wait to reunite with my folks back home.

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