I joined the Sangham ten years ago. I was very poor. I was a husbandless woman living on wage labour. My husband was an irresponsible loafer. He ran away from me after I gave birth to two children.
All the people in my village used to go the Sangham. And they would repeatedly tell me, "O Laxmamma, come to the Sangham, come to the Sangham." Then one day, I too joined the Sangham.
I had no house. I couldn't get the thatch material, the poles, and the timber - nothing. I had to beg after people to borrow straw for thatch and poles to cover my roof. Men who had to work on this would demand Rs.50 as wages. It was very expensive. I had so much trouble, I can't explain.
One year I had thatched my roof. Then I had made some syangulu [local noodles] to last for the rainy season. I had spread them in the house for drying. That night rains came so heavily that my roof started leaking all over and all the syangulu got wet -- all the 2.5 kgs of them.
Once there was a big rainstorm. We had gone for wage labour for the harvest of blackgram. I had carried a bundle of blackgram chaff with me for lighting bonfire to keep the cold off. When it rained and rained, my mud floor started getting wet. I spread the chaff on the floor, put a gunnysack on it and held on to my small son and tried to sleep. The chaff started floating in the rain, which was leaking from my roof. Only one corner of the house was dry. I held my child on to my stomach and leaned against the wall in that corner until the morning.
In the morning, I gathered all the wet chaff and dried them in the sun. I mopped the floor of my house and dried the floor. I spread the chaff again on this floor and slept in the night. Again in the dead of the night, it started raining. I couldn't even light a lamp because the blowing wind would knock off the lamp. There was a lot of rain and dust. I didn't know what to do. I held my child against my body, covered him with my pallu and kunchi and leaned on to the half wall all through the night.
Mine is an old ancestral house. It has mud walls and a thatched roof. It used to leak in every rainy season. The mud walls would get wet and start collapsing. There was a large hole in the roof. With frequent rains, my house started collapsing. I spoke in the Sangham about it. All the Sangham members echoed my problem and asked DDS to help me with a house.
After many days, after a year, when the Sangham and everyone else realised my problem, I got the help to build a house. Bringing roofing tins, masons and construction material, we built a house. The construction started in the rainy season. For about 30 days I slept with my child in the church. When the house was completed, I came back to the house.
It is about four years now. The house is all set, nice and cozy, and I am glad that I don't have to go begging others for straw or poles.
I have only one daughter. When daughters are brought home for festivals, they are given sarees and blouses by parents. I can't afford to bring sarees, so I used to suffer from anxiety even two or three months before the festivals. Leave alone sarees, I could not afford to buy even two blouses. But now, things are looking up. If I was wearing a five- rupee worth blouse then, now I wear a blouse costing 10-12 rupees.
And most importantly, the house is not leaking anymore. There is a tin roof on top. I am repaying according to my capacity.
I don't have to sleep in the church anymore. I don't have to beg the kapus (upper caste) for the thatch or poles anymore. The house is a warm place to live. I don't have to go begging. I can live off my own work.
Earlier, it used to be a lot of hardship. I had to get all the material. Beg men to come to work on my house. There was no male support in my house. To pay for their wages, I had to go hungry for days. They would demand a lot of money for various tasks involved. It used to be hard, very, very hard.
Now none of that is needed. Jarra kudarthamayindi pranam. There is
a bit of relief in life.