Friday, June 17, 2011

The rising sun

The sun had not yet risen when Vandana woke. It was the day of the month she looked forward to the most. She took the tola and walked to the cow shed silently. Her husband hardly got any sleep after the factory they sold their cotton to started offering double shifts. He now tended to the farm in the mornings and worked in the plant in the evenings.

As she milked the cow, she planned her day. First, she had to cook lunch for her husband and children, and then walk to the cooperative in the next village to buy more seeds. She would reach home only by noon.

The second half of the day was what Vandana was excited about. On the first Saturday of every month Srinivas Sahib came to the village. Srinivas Sahib was from the city, from the government bank. Every month, he would sit with the women and listen - whether the borrowers were paying money back on time, the rains, the crop, almost every other thing that happened in the village since the last meeting. A year back, when the first such meeting had taken place, none of them dared to speak. After about half an hour, finally succumbing to Srinivas Sahib’s persistence, Gayatri mentioned the lack of rains, and all of a sudden, everybody wanted to say something! Nowadays, everyone looked forward to the meetings, questions prepared and ideas thought about. If not anything, at least they could talk to someone who was from the city.

Vandana clearly remembered the time when Srinivas Sahib had first come to the village. When he suggested that families come together with their savings and lend to villagers in need, he was laughed at. What were the moneylenders there for? How patient he had been. The moneylender was looting them, he said. The bank would lend as much money as the villagers brought together, and they would charge a cost far lower than the moneylenders. Why would they want to go to the moneylenders when they could help each other? Then the second shock. Women, elected by the villagers, would be in charge of the money. They would hold meetings and decide who could borrow how much! Her husband, like many others, was livid with rage. Who will look after the house? Was Srinivas Sahib saying that the men in the village could not take care of their women and children? Vandana, like all the other women, had stared at Srinivas Sahib with
uncertainty. She had always felt she could do something more than the chores at home, but this? She was scared. Srinivas Sahib had again been patient. How will you manage this money when you are working in the factory, he asked. She manages your money at home. Let her manage money in the community.

The monthly collections were higher than the previous month yet again. The monsoon had been good. Srinivas Sahib had promised that at this rate, they could apply for more money from the bank! She looked up to see Pavithra, her eldest daughter, walking out of home, yawning. More money meant they could finally afford fertilizers for the cotton!

Vandana smiled. The sun was rising.

1 comment:

Priyanka Mehta said...

Really good fiction this is! I like the MFI/SME backdrop to it. Keep going. You are getting better with each post :)