#Women at work – The fruit seller

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I see her busy at her shop right across the road from our apartment building. She has a small outlet stocked with fresh flower and fruit. Somedays I see her attending customers, somedays she is polishing the fruit with a piece of cloth or arranging them in meticulous piles.

I pass by her shop some half a dozen times a day and she never fails to give me a smile. She knows I love flowers as do the kids. She also knows I prefer gerberas and roses for my vases as against the ones she keeps – marigolds, Indian roses and jasmines which are used more often for religious rituals. And yet when I am buying fruit and she has a specially pretty rose she hands it over to me with a ‘take this for the kids’.
And so H and N here’s a lesson for you – Take pleasure and pride in whatever you do, no matter how small your job, how tiny your business. You don’t need to have a lot of ‘things’ to be generous. All you need is a big heart.
When most shop keepers take a siesta break (a ritual in my city), she doesn’t go home. She sits quietly enjoying her break. Her hands keep busy as she picks out flowers from a basket on her lap and threads out colourful garlands, readying for the evening rush.
Somedays she talks to me. A lot of it is in Marathi but I nod along even though I don’t understand all of it. I ask her why she doesn’t shut shop for the siesta. 
And she says, 
“My husband passed away recently. When he was alive, he was always pestering me. ‘Why are you always at the shop? I need you here at home to serve me lunch. I need you to sit with me while I eat,’ he’d say. 
I’d get annoyed and I’d tell him – the children are there to take care of you. How much can a woman do? I have the shop to look after.
But he would have none of it. We’d have arguments but I did go home each day.” 
I nod along, the feminist in me not quite happy with the story.
She continues, a trifle wistfully,
‘Now he is gone and no one asks me to come home. I have children, son, daughter-in-law but they don’t know if I’ve eaten or not. I’m happiest here at my shop.’
I don’t know what to say. The feminist is a trifle confused and chooses to stay silent.
And here’s lesson number 2. This one is for me: Relationships are complicated. No one relationship is quite like another. It is easy to pass judgement, to give advice but different things work for different people.
I cannot end the post without wishing everyone a very happy Independence Day. And I’m glad I wrote about this lady today. Isn’t she a symbol of Independent India? Of doing her own thing and being at peace with herself?
Despite so much that is not quite right with our country, we do have things to be proud of, things that set us apart, make us special.
Today, I shall focus on all that IS right with my country and it is that which I shall be celebrating.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
Linking up with Parul for the #Women at Work bloghop. If you have a story about a working woman do share.
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34 thoughts on “#Women at work – The fruit seller

  • August 29, 2016 at 3:38 pm
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    I so miss that lady all of a sudden and those polite talks of "kaise ho Tai?"
    I remember having seen her there as a constant. Love your representation of working woman.

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  • August 25, 2016 at 3:54 am
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    Taking pride in what you do is the first step towards achieving success in the thing you do. And relationships too, entangled as they may seem, require great care patience and shouldnt we all also be proud of our relationships around?

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    • August 25, 2016 at 2:38 pm
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      You're right. There's always some bad and some good in all our relationships.

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  • August 24, 2016 at 5:17 am
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    Lovely!!!! Taking pride in whatever you do – great little lesson there. And of course, relationships are never so simple, are they?

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    • August 25, 2016 at 2:38 pm
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      Never! That's the only certain thing about relationships – that they're all different and all mixed up.

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  • August 23, 2016 at 2:17 pm
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    This is such a beautiful story. It made me smile. At least she has something in her life that she can look up to and stay occupied and be happy with it, with herself.

    I loved your theme to pick things you like about the country.

    Cheers
    Geets

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    • August 25, 2016 at 2:37 pm
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      I liked that about her too – that she was doing something she liked, that she had something to look forward to in her life.

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  • August 23, 2016 at 8:42 am
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    Thanks Tulika for giving this portrayal of a wonderful, inspiring, hardworking Indian woman. You are so right, she is the face of a confident, free India, one who knows what works for her and works hard to realise her dreams but with kindness and love in her heart.

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    • August 25, 2016 at 2:36 pm
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      .. and she is such a common sight in our country. That's what's special about her.

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  • August 23, 2016 at 4:19 am
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    Loved reading about her. True all relationships are different. What may seem odd to us doesn't mean it's not right… She seems like a very strong lady.

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    • August 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm
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      She would be Raj. She taught me that we all interpret relationships differently.

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  • August 23, 2016 at 1:21 am
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    I loved hearing about this lady and the little gems that you gleaned from her. I totally agree with you that it is easy for us to judge and file out advice. But only the person who walks in the shoes knows best. Yes, the feminist in me squirmed as well. Thank you for sharing her story.

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    • August 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm
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      We have to admit that ultimately what matters is our own happiness and that feminism can mean different things to different people.

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  • August 22, 2016 at 5:07 pm
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    People do bowl us over with their maxims for life, don't they? At times, I feel like we live in our own little world, oblivious to the big world and its people out there. People who have experienced so much, dealt with so much, they could teach us a thing or two!And, it's when we run into such amazing people, that we come back richer. Hats off to the gutsy woman!

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    • August 25, 2016 at 2:33 pm
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      I thought so too Shilpa. She was inspiring.

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  • August 20, 2016 at 6:55 am
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    It's amazing what people can teach you if you let them…Taking pride in our work and keeping an independent head is such a lovely quality. A simple and heartwarming story for the independence day.
    Shubhangi @ The Little Princess

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    • August 25, 2016 at 2:34 pm
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      Thanks Shubhangi. Yeah she does seem content.

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  • August 18, 2016 at 9:03 am
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    True be proud of whatever you do .. I love what i do šŸ™‚ what a lovely story thank you for sharing .. the fruit look so fresh šŸ™‚

    Bikram's

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    • August 25, 2016 at 2:29 pm
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      You're one of the fortunate few then, Bikram – to be able to love what you do is great.

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    • August 30, 2016 at 11:03 am
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      It is definitely fortunate BUT it also depends on what one makes of the job.. it is in our hands even if we are in the worst job if we go in with a smile and work with all our heart then you will see everyone will enjoy what they do ..

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  • August 17, 2016 at 4:34 pm
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    Such a beautiful story and such profound lessons. I liked the relationship bit. How we take our relationships for granted and miss out on the small things. And it's much later that we realize that it's the small little things that matter the most!

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    • August 25, 2016 at 6:21 am
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      Absolutely true Shilpa. We rarely value people while they are there for us.

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  • August 16, 2016 at 1:37 am
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    Tulika, what a beautiful post. I almost cried a little. Yes, those are two very important lessons right there. Happy Independence Day!

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    • August 25, 2016 at 6:06 am
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      Aw Aditi thanks. Everyone has a story they need to tell someone. I was glad to be there to listen.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 2:39 pm
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    That's a lovely story and great lessons you've shared, Tulika. Indeed such women make us feel proud and remind us of things that are still right with our country.

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    • August 25, 2016 at 6:03 am
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      Absolutely Uma. And there are so many of them around us.

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  • August 15, 2016 at 5:48 am
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    Indeed a great post for this auspicious day. She symbolises the freedom and independence that we have fought for. One could get inspiration from the smallest of places no? šŸ™‚

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    • August 25, 2016 at 4:06 am
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      Absolutely Darshana. All we have to do is look around us.

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  • August 14, 2016 at 5:55 pm
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    My area is full of women vendors I admire. In some sense, they are all friends. They not only take care of family financially and as Mothers and wives, but also deftly manage their business with elan. Wonderful story, Tulika. I loved the lessons, too!

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    • August 25, 2016 at 4:05 am
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      Thanks Vidya. I think women have this amazing ability of connecting with each other across all kind of differences.

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  • August 14, 2016 at 5:08 pm
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    Lovely story. There are so many women around us who do everything for their family – when it rains out or when it's sultry hot. We owe it to them for teaching us so much.

    Thank you Tulika for linking with #WomenAtWork bloghop. You are the first so you know how special it is for me šŸ™‚ <3 I can't stop smiling šŸ™‚

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    • August 25, 2016 at 3:56 am
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      Glad to link up Parul. Yes some women are indeed special.

      Reply

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