(CNS): Savitri, a mother of 6 children--5 daughters and 1 son--became a widow 12 years after her marriage, when her husband, the eldest of three brothers, died of electrocution. Narrating her tearful story, Savitri said that fate had been unkind to her from her early childhood. Her father died when she was a child. They were two sisters and one brother. Savitri had to discontinue her studies after Class 8, and had to stay home to do household chores as her mother would go out to work in the fields.
Life after marriage
Savitri was married at the tender age of 16 years into a farmer's family. Her husband, the eldest of 3 sons, was into farming. Although Savitri did not know much about farming, she happily helped him on the fields. Her happy married life came to an abrupt end with her husband's sudden death. Till her husband was alive, things were okay. There was poverty but no mental stress. There was never any disagreement between the two. But within 15 days of his death, life turned bitter for her.
Her in-laws threw her out of the house. They wanted to keep her son but wanted her to leave the house with her 5 daughters. She was brutally beaten, threatened and abused by her father-in-law and her husband's younger brothers. They even threatened to kill her. She sent 3 of her children to her parents' home for some time. But even the 3 who were with her in their father's house were not given enough food to eat. Savitri had no other option but to start working as a farm labourer to make ends meet. Then, on the advice of a well-wisher, she knocked the doors of the court and managed to get some monetary compensation and 2 bighas of land from the 22 bighas owned by her father-in-law.
Her work and achievements
After her husband's death Savitri saw many troubled days. After being thrown out of her in-laws house, with no roof over her head, she worked as a farm labourer, and later, after getting the 2 bigha land, did some farming on her own land. She started by growing paddy and wheat. Then seeing others growing vegetables, she also gave it a try and began growing chillies, potatoes, cauliflowers and brinjals. She shudders to think of those days. Farming was difficult work for her, as she was not well versed with farming techniques. She would buy seeds from the market, ready the plants and then plant them in her field.
She became a member of the Aaroh Mahila Kisaan Manch ('Aaroh' is a campaign for rights and recognition of women farmers in Uttar Pradesh supported by Oxfam India) three years ago. "This proved to be a boon for me in many ways. Slowly I learned new farming techniques and was encouraged to do all the farming work myself. I am a self-trained farmer".
Now she is able to do all the work by herself--ploughing, sowing, irrigating, weeding and harvesting. She also manages by herself the few animals--some goats, 1 cow and 3 buffaloes--that she has bought over a period of time. Her daughters also help her now.