Hiding her sorrow behind a smile, she keeps moving pushing her push cart hollering 'Rangoli..., Rangoli...'
For this 38-year-old Rathna, life did not come easily. A native of Mandya, when she was just 12-years of age, her parents married her off and by the time she was 15 she had become a mother rearing two children. Everything was fine for three years. An unexpected thing happened in her life one day, that her husband deserted her. She had turned 16 just then.
With two kids to look after and not knowing where to go, she decided to leave the village and moved over to Mysuru 23 years ago. She eked out a livelihood by selling several products on the streets for an year, which did not yield much returns and that's when she decided to sell rangoli.
She hired a vegetable push cart and approached a wholesale Rangoli dealer in Mysuru who procures it from Salem, Tamil Nadu. In due course this became a regular routine of her life. It may be raining or shining, she just keeps moving pushing her push cart and passes through other major thoroughfares in the city every day. On an average she earns around Rs 7500 every month by selling about 100-150 kg of Rangoli every day, out of which she has raised her children, and has managed to marry off her daughter.
She has regular customers in Vidyaranyapuram, Gundurao Nagar, Nanjumalige, Bandikeri, Kanakagiri, KG Koppalu, foothills of Chamundi, Sollepura, Ashokapuram, and several other areas. By the time sun rises she will be on her way selling rangoli powder, which is used to draw designful patterns in front of the houses.
'Am an uneducated woman. When my husband left me, I was not aware where to go and what to do. Have seen ups and downs in my life. One should be courageous enough and face the challenges of life. I request parents to provide good education for girls too,' are her motivating words.
Speaking to Express, Rathna said: 'I got married, when I was not even aware of what it is. My happy life ended when I was 16. Since then I have never turned back. I am proud that I am the only woman, out of 60 persons engaged in rangoli selling. My dropout son is now a daily wage worker. I don't want to be dependent on anyone, and want to lead a life of dignity with the money I earn,' she added.
Deepa a resident of KG Koppal who is purchasing rangoli from her for the past two decades said: 'Unmindful of the blazing sun overhead she is eking out for livelihood by selling rangoli powder. She comes once every fortnight to our area, and am purchasing rangoli from her only. We are proud of this woman, who is a symbol of confidence for many of us women.'