It was a typical warm sunny afternoon in the village of Fatehpurah. We were sitting on the floor of Vibha’s neat and clean verandah in front of her family’s small hut. Vibha no longer covered her head, as is customary for village women in India. She was happy and seemed content with her life. Tea was brewing.
Vibha lives with her husband and their three sons. Her husband works in a nearby field as an agricultural day laborer. Before joining Tamasha, Vibha and her husband lived a hand-to-mouth existence. They barely had enough money to buy food; their children could not afford the books and supplies needed for school. Vibha worked 7 hours a day away from home. Times were hard when she had to stay home to look after one of her sick children and she had to forgo her day’s wages.
Vibha tells us that Tamasha has changed her life and improved the quality of life for her whole family. Her three children now go to school and are in 1st, 4th, and 7th grades. She earns a steady income every month from Tamasha, making over 4 times what she used to make as a day laborer. Each month She deposits 10% of her income into a savings account, small but growing, providing security for her and her family, especially her children. Vibha no longer has to worry about where the money would come from for medical emergencies.
Vibha says ‘I do not have land or an education; my hands are my only resource. Who would pay when I fall ill?’ She laughs and jokes ‘I have not fallen ill since I started working with tamasha.’
Since the poly loom is in her house, she can manage her household chores and responsibilities, and work with greater flexibility and ease. She can extend or compress her work time depending on her household work and the orders received for Tamasha products. Though Vibha generally does not work beyond 5 or 6 pm, she sometimes works at night when Tamasha receives large orders.
Vibha says that there is less physical exertion in operating the loom. The major effort is in changing the warp threads, about once every two weeks. Apart from that, she says ‘operating the loom is like playing a game.’
Her day starts at 5-6 am. By 10 am she completes her household chores – makes tea, cleans the house, gets water, washes and feeds the buffaloes, washes clothes, cooks food and feeds her husband and children – then she sits at the loom and works until 3 p.m. She takes a short break for tea and sits at the loom again until 5pm. After 5pm, she resumes her household responsibilities – she bathes the children, washes the buffaloes again, cooks food, feeds her husband and children, washes the vessels and sweeps the house. Some time is spent for relaxation, after which she generally goes to bed around 9 or 10 p.m.