Writing a composition .. Example of a Story .. ..
A page from a Salt-harvester’s diary
I am a woman born to fight the odds of life, smilingly. I live in a village about five kilometers off the Ganjam coast in Odisha on the Bay of Bengal shore. My husband is a woodcutter, and my two daughters are in Class 5 and 7 in our village school.
Some 13 years ago, my woodcutter husband came with his parents to see me, and agreed to marry me with no great fuss, because I was an ‘earning woman’ then! I was making Rs.30 a day working in the salt making beds, close to the sea. My elated parents lost no time to marry me off in a simple ceremony that cost them a hefty sum of Rs.1250 — their life-time savings. I was a 15-year-old maiden then, coy and coquettish, but very bold and stoic.
On the bridal night, my husband told me how he occasionally encounters tigers in his daily forays into the jungles. ‘Such meetings have, so far, passed off incident-less,’ he said with a grin. His words sent shivers down my spine, but I felt proud that I had married a brave man.
My marriage didn’t give me any respite from my salt-gathering work. My in-laws had made it clear that I must continue to earn after the marriage!
To avoid the blinding glare of the noon Sun, I leave my house at 3am, walk the five kilometers with my co-workers, and reach the salt fields by 4.30am. That’s when my work starts. My ‘team’ has to scrape the solidified salt off the ground using trowels and shovels, put them in the gunny bags and cart them to the store shed. We are paid Rs.4 per bag. Our team of four, makes just about Rs. 300 by noon. The Sun becomes too unkind to us to continue. I get Rs. 75 as my share for the 8-hour grind! I fold the notes with great care, and tuck them inside my blouse with a sense of accomplishment.
My feet burn, and my palms itch. My limbs have been inured to the pain I have suffered for years. My skin has turned blue in patches and my legs have developed blisters. But, I don’t care because I am determined to give my two daughters the best education I can afford. I put aside my income in our village post office. When needed, I use it to pay my daughters’ school fees or buy their books.
Hours and hours of standing in the corrosive salt beds under the harsh sunlight has taken its toll. My employer– our village moneylender– has given us no shoes, no gloves, but we seldom demand. Asking for these could bring instant dismissal.
I can continue for a few more years. By that time, my two daughters would have completed a decent education. My life-long toil, and my husband’s tryst with the woods, hopefully, could save my two lovely daughters from the salt fields! That would be a dream fulfilled.