11:56 am CSMT fast local
As soon as the local train halted at Thane station, a browny woman in her 30s with slim physique, wearing a saree with flower prints on it, came inside with a big carry bag in right hand, a box in left and a bright smile on her face. Without wasting time she quickly took her stuff out of the carry bag and opened the box, started selling rubber bands, earrings, hair clips and other such things.
She was welcomed in the compartment with some disgusting looks (Why does she have to come here, Eww she is stinking, We don’t have space to stand and why do these people have to come, etc.) and some exciting looks (Wow finally I am going to buy new earrings, Hey I needed those rubber bands thank god she came, etc.)
Without paying any attention to those looks she was busy getting new customers and selling it. What caught my attention was those things which she was selling, those were the things which all the women need and she knew it without getting any marketing lessons. I was excited to talk to her. Though I did not want to buy anything, I started asking her price of earrings just to start the conversation. Since not many women wanted to buy from her I got an opportunity to have a word with here.
Her name was Lakshmi. She is from a village called Lambhua in Uttar Pradesh. Got married at the age of 17 and came to Mumbai with her husband who works as a Mazdoor (labourer). After spending a few happy days in Mumbai, reality hit her and realised she has to work too in order to live in this city of dreams, Mumbai.
As the train stopped for some time due to a signal, I got to know her more. Further she mentioned that she keeps boarding such local trains from several stations and can make a good amount of sale in a day but she has to be aware of police who sometimes torture them and other sellers who sell such stuff in local trains. So many times they start fighting due to decided locations. Because once the locals in which you would be selling is decided, it cannot be taken by others.
I asked her about the education. She smiled and answered that Menstrual Cycle wanted her to learn only till 8th (She got her first Menstrual Cycle when she was in 8th grade and her parents made her stop going to school because of that reason). Then I asked her the secret behind that smiling face and her reply astonished me, “Madam dukhi chehara leke ghumne se konsa halat badalne wala hai? Usse achha hamesha khush raho, muskurate raho.” (Getting sad due to poor condition won’t change anything, but a smiling face can!)
While I was amazed at her, the train halted at station, Lakshmi got down but left me with so many thoughts!