Working-class heroines — breadwinners of the family

Working-class heroines — breadwinners of the family

Wednesday August 17, 2016,

3 min Read

In the rush of our everyday lives, we tend to overlook or miss some great stories.

These stories of strength, grit, and courage are lost between the chaotic traffic and buzzing noise. The inspirational silent resilience, sitting in the heart of the common man, or the woman.

These are some stories of breadwinners who didn’t have choices, perks, maternity benefits, or bonuses. No one posing to them the question of ‘job satisfaction’ or ‘passion’.

These are stories shaped with circumstances. Some could’ve shaken the most confident of us, but these women have risen above it all, and really mean business when they do.

Mary Shanti

Work description – Cook / baby care / laundry delivery

Mary Shanti spent 10 years doing odd jobs and helping her husband, who irons clothes for a living. Within eight months of her marriage, her husband, who was a painter, met with an accident.

It has been 19 years since. Now her happiness lies in her two children ­– 15-year-old boy and nine-year-old girl – who keeps the house clean.



Work description – Running a fast food corner


Ratna has been selling snacks for the past 16 years to keep her household running.

“On August 4, I turn 50,” she says while packing Bhajjis.

Seventeen years since her husband’s death, she initially worked as a maid to make ends meet for her and her three kids.

“Naseeb aisa hain toh karna hi padega,” she says, as she serves hot pakodas. Rent, bills, and some loans have to be paid. She adds, “How else will I get them married?”. “Aaram se baithna hain, wahi khushi hogi mere liye.”


Work description – Selling flowers

Originally from Tamil Nadu, she started selling flowers and knick-knacks to support her family.

“Husband” she says and points to her right hand, and gestures that he is disabled and unable to speak as well. She has worked every day to raise her three children.

“Ek roj khushi, ek roj thandi,” she says with a smile.



Work description – irons clothes

Like the other people who iron clothes, Bhanumati can always be found in a particular lane in Indiranagar in Bengaluru.

Originally from Tamil Nadu, ironing is the traditional occupation of her family. She says, “Our father, relatives and everyone did it, I’m only taking it forward.”

Bhanumati has been doing this since 1993, and has been in the city for the past 25 years. She has educated her children with the money she earns from ironing. “My son has passed his diploma, and my daughter is doing her PUC” she beams.

“This is my happiness, more money will also be a happy thing.”


Work description – Sells vegetables

Originally from Mysore, Chittayamma, 54, keeps herself busy by selling vegetables and has been doing this for the past 30 years. Lack of jobs and education is what prompted her to sell vegetables.

“When sales happen, I feel contentment, that’s my happiness,” she says.


Work description – Maid (serves four houses)


Work description – Selling flowers

Savarajamma, 62, has been selling flowers for 40 years. She has three children who have now married with kids. Residing happily in Ulsoor with her family, the flower she sells gives her some extra money and she’s content. She started selling flowers as there were no jobs when she was young and had babies. She needed to start with something.

“Accha din hua toh khushi hain, selling hua toh khushi,” she says, as she puts a ‘gaajra’ around my hair and blesses me with two roses in my hands.