"arre ye sab kya jaante hai, ab toh sab yu hi ho jata hai; mujhse pooch mein bataun tujhe asli baatein"
Anita (name changed) is a one of those fierce women with amazing life experiences who is a no hold barred "Toofan". Now in her late 50s, she has the energy of a young and strong woman. She was born and brought up in the forest and was married in a family living in the same jungle. Due to prevalent social norms around girl education and the no schools around she has never been part of an institutional learning. All this never stopped her from learning new things, in her words
“Jungle me bahut kuch hai seekhne ko, jungle ka jeewan apne aap me kisi school se kam nahi hai”.
She is a 'Master' of all trades, from her commendable knowledge about the local forest ecosystem (resources, wildlife etc) to being a mid-wife. As and when Samanta is working around the community we often find her yelling and shouting at the young generation for wasting their time. Citing a lack of interest and knowledge to understand about the local resources.
She lost her husband a couple of years ago. All this while she has been the 'Head of the Family' taking a lead in all walks of life. Her daily routine is a mix of all forms of work -
1. Collecting wood,
2. Making ropes,
3. Helping women deliver the child at home
4. To sharing her knowledge with others in the village.
Anita is a vocal woman, who speaks for her rights and does not let anyone suppress her thoughts or responses. She values education and shows utmost concern for the education of her grandchildren. She is a wonderful voluntary community mobiliser helping us to spread the message around - 1.Importance of women’s health and 2. To speak up (especially women) about health issues.
The men from the community view her as a female who voices her concerns and opinions strongly. The extent to which she has experienced the patriarchal and discriminatory aspects of life (she belongs to the scheduled caste category) is tough to fathom. At this age she is always occupied with work on collecting firewood, grass for selling and other household chores.
In the community meetings organised by Samanta with the women, she is the one who breaks the silence by sharing experiences of illness, child birth etc. She is an astounding example of a self dependent women with a voice. Samanta is proud to learn from her everyday and feels privileged to be mentored by Community seniors like her.
She shows that learning is much beyond the boundaries of institutions. As she always says -
“aurat ko padhna aur hisaab karna jaroor aana chahiye, issae wo apni dihaadi ka hisaab lagaa sakti hai.”