Narmada Devi, named after India’s Narmada river, was 11 when she came to Bhatwari village. She works on her own now, as her three boys and two girls all live away from the village.
“In April/May we sow paddy, at that time we do hard work,” she says. “Lots of work we have to do.” She explains that first ploughing is done, then compost is spread, the seeds are sown and finally the crop is harvested. She saves seeds as well. “Without seed there is nothing at all. We should save seed and only then we will sow,” she says.
According to Narmada, “Before they [people] worked, and now people are not hard working.”
These days she sows her wheat and then goes to Chandigar to her son’s house for the winter, and comes back in April to harvest the wheat. Her sons also come in June during their holiday, to assist on the farm. While she could also live in Chandigar, she likes agriculture. Even her son says, “come here, we will feed you”. But Narmada says, “this is our habit, we like this, working with hands, then we become strong.”
“I grow everything every person sows,” she says, meaning she grows all that is needed to support her family. With the surplus harvest, Narmada sells at the market or in exchange for necessities such as salt and sugar.
She says it is different now. “Now we don’t do as much hard work, but when my mother-in-law was here, [we did more].”
Her only challenge is that she is now becoming older. “That is why I am tired,” she says. She doesn’t believe her children will come back to work on the land.
Before the interview is completed, her mobile phone rings. With a sickle in one hand and a phone in the other, she has to go.