Mary wakes up at five in the morning. She wears her face mask and she goes to the Pondicherry wholesale fruit market. She buys her quota for the day and pays an auto fare to come straight to her fruit cart. Then begin her long hours at her cart. In these times sales are low. There are days when she has no sales at all. On a good day she makes about 150 rupees. At 5 in the evening she returns home to two children. The older one was contributing to the family income by working at a clothes shop. Post lockdown when businesses reopened he was fired. Both children remain at home now.

Mary was widowed a few years back; she lost her husband in alcohol-related complications.

photo was taken in January 2020, pre-covid

From the time of the first lockdown till May end the sudden cessation of income necessitated her to live with her Brother in Law’s family. All supplies, Govt transfers and the relief kit from Sharana made it easier for her Brother in Law to take care of her family. This was heartening to note and is in line with our belief that extended family, with a little assistance, come to spontaneous rescue of their kin, irrespective of economic status.

photo taken in June 2020

Earlier this February Mary had received a loan from Sharana to upgrade her Bread-Omlette business. She no longer needed to rent the cart and gas cylinders. She was making about 500 rupees a day. Her life had begun to look up. She ran her business from 6 to 10 pm. But in COVID times she cannot keep her cart functional this late which made the bread-omelette business unviable. The situation was grim. That’s when she decided to sell fruits.  Her income levels have fallen drastically but Mary is driven. She’s ventured into a new area. She struggles to bring food to the table with long hours of work, but remains the master of her business. When rules ease she will bounce back with her Bread-omelette shop.

Mattered little that her cart was stolen during the lockdown, there is no stopping our Mary, she filed a complaint and got it right back!

-penned by Mrs. Alo Pal, board member.