Kruti Women – Ashwini
It doesn’t matter whether Ashwini ‘s company include lots of people or just a sewing machine, she’s always immersed in her work. Even as we talk, she focuses on the brilliant blue kurta, shoulders hunched, only occasionally looking up. Making kurtas is easy though, she says. The bigger challenge (and enjoyment) is stitching bags and dresses. (And collars? Let’s not go there.) Dresses, in a medley of colours are what she likes to wear the most, they’re more comfortable than jeans, more glam than salwars. This seems to be a family taste- her two small sisters love frocks and skirts too. But their liking doesn’t move beyond wearing to creating, she grins.
And so we slide into the topic of her family. She dotes on her little sisters and her her aunt.
But daily, as her sisters trotted off to the New English School and her aunt left to work in the Muwci gardens, Ashwini grew weary of sitting alone at home. It didn’t help that Rawde village didn’t have any other girl of her age. A year ago, she took her aunt’s advice to plunge into dressmaking. She had zero prior experience, but her passion for sewing and thirst to learn, learn, learn anything and everything, were (and still are) off the scale.
Ashwini lives in the present. When I ask her what her ambitions are, she states that thriving in Kruti is her first priority at the moment. In one breath, she describes her appreciation of her colleagues’ support and tolerance for mistakes. She can work more freely, and a 9-5 stint, 6 days a week, breezes by.
I ask her how she spends her time after Kruti. Initially she looks a tad unsure and says ‘kuch nahi.’ I get the impression she isn’t used to talking about herself. But then she eases back and talks about her diversions: watching films, Marathi stories, relaxing to soulful Hindi and Marathi songs (but she cheerily insists she doesn’t sing herself.) Simply-cut rings glitter on her ear and nose, but she says that she isn’t one for jewellery. She isn’t lured by makeup either, though her younger sisters are, she giggles. She also mentions that she only ‘occasionally wears sarees’, immediately her colleague interjects that she still carries them off with grace.
Ashwini shrugs and smiles.
Whatever the future holds, Ashwini has carved herself emotional and financial independence.
When she grasped her first salary cheque, she skittered to her aunt to hand it over. Her aunt replied- keep it’s yours. Even when treating herself to a well-deserved dose of shopping, Ashwini didn’t forget her family and spent most on gifting those bangles (something she personally would never wear.) And after all these months at Kruti, confidence has become her signature scent.