Kruti Women – Seema
23 year old Seema from Asade is one of Kruti’s pioneering members. There were only three of them then, they started by stitching bags, then dress samples, she has woven her way up to teach newer members her craft.
She began with minimal experience, but is now brimming with confidence as in her own words, she can “stand on her own feet because of this.” I can see this how she talks- briskly ,with a decided air. She is candid about the blitz of problems that hit women in her village. “If one is a girl, one gets all the blame” she says. “We’re supposed to worry about everyone, and so we cram too much into our lives.”
She’s unfazed by all this, however. All the knowledge she has gleaned at Kruti are tools to independence for life, she says. She’s got a plan B, and a plan C and D too.
Even if she isn’t here anymore, she would use her skills with the sewing machine(there’s a whole backstory there- tired of merely wielding needles and scissors, she persuaded her colleagues to teach her to use the machine and practised non-stop for a month)- to carve out other opportunities. If not that, she might try her hand as a beautician. But what matters most is that she’s the boss of all her decisions.
It’s clear she’s no shrinking violet as she recounts how she never hesitates to speak her mind to her parents. And they support her too, she says. She gleefully remembers clutching her first ever cheque. She remembers the delight of her mother, both at the earnings, and at the fact that she was becoming an expert dressmaker! One of her sisters is following her footsteps and studying fashion design too, it’s fun giving her tips, she laughs. Nagging questions are rare and she (as well as her younger sisters,) have the liberty to choose when, where and who to marry.
The issue of marriage is one that trails most young women in the area, and Seema coolly shrugs off cultural expectations. “Those who talk about ‘tradition’ don’t seem to understand that if a person is happy, why should she rush into marriage?” And she adds dryly, “a boy could insist on his affections for months, and yet things could change in a second. What a shock that would be.”
Seema works tirelessly- drumming the sewing machine nonstop, spinning yards of fabric into elegant dresses, wraparound skirts and bags. She finds the technique of palazzos slippery to grasp, but as always, never gives up. She also teaches Grades 1-4 at Akshara, math and science. This lady’s not only a Jill-of-all-trades, but a master of them too.