The first among three daughters and born to a couple struggling with poverty, Sunitha has had an unfortunate life.
RJ Asha interviewed Sunitha in this episode of Behind The Label to uncover the story of her resilience when faced with formidable odds. She overcame the problems and successfully built her own life. Unable to receive formal schooling given poor financial conditions, she sacrificed her childhood to earn a living as a coolie (porter). Sunitha was married off to an unschooled young man during her late adolescence. Both of them found it difficult to earn a decent living in the village, so, they soon decide to relocate to Bengaluru.
The couple was constantly surrounded by fear of the unknown in this new city. In hopes of better employment opportunities, they scouted around every part of Bengaluru. Their hopes were diminished when they realised that they weren’t educated enough to be taken in at most places. When almost at the verge of giving up, both of them found jobs at the same factory with the help of their neighbours. However, another array of troubles awaited Sunitha. They couple find it extremely stressful to cope with the environment of a factory. The cacophony of the machines and the physical stress of the
However, another array of troubles awaited Sunitha. The couple found the environment at the factory extremely stressful to cope with. The cacophony of the machines and the physical stress of the labour overwhelmed them. Additionally, Sunitha realised that her husband was deep in debt. Out of the INR 1,700 that she earned as monthly salary, she was obligated to pay INR 1,000 rupees off to clear the debts. When Sunitha recalls this phase of her life in her talk with Asha, she expresses how she had no idea that there would be harder days to come.
While recalling this phase of her life, Sunitha mentions that at the point, she had no idea that even harder days awaited her.
In spite of the stress, Sunitha and her husband worked at the factory for ten years while continually paying off their debts. Their family expanded with the addition of their son. The little one brought happiness into their lives, but the financial and emotional stress doubled with the responsibility. The couple’s distress led to a lot of fights. One morning, after another fight, Sunitha headed to the factory and waited for her husband to arrive. He didn’t turn up even after many hours had passed. She reminisces in the interview how that wait would never end. Her husband had commited suicide.
Broken and overcome by sorrow, Sunitha tried hard to make a living during the tough years that followed. She continues to work for her son, to make sure that he receives a good education and is able to live independently in the future. She makes both ends meet and has cleared all the debts. As the saying goes, “At the end of a battle is peace.” Sunitha has won all her battles and is finally living in peace with her son.
RJ Asha reflects upon Sunitha’s life with admiration. Sunitha comes forth as an independent woman who has built her identity by living selflessly for her loved ones – starting with her parents, then her husband, and now, her son. She internalised her roles as a daughter, a wife, and a mother at every stage, albeit at the cost of her own self.
Her story, in RJ Asha’s opinion, is an undying source of inspiration for us all!
Written by Vybhavi Adiga.