Beating metal on a flame
PHOTO • Binaifer Bharucha

Surekha and Chaburao heat the metal over an open flame in a makeshift furnace before hammering it into shape

“We work here mainly in the rainy season, that is when the farmers need new ploughs and tools made, or old ones repaired,” says Surekha.  She is sitting, along with her husband Chaburao Salunke, under the shade of a large banyan tree.

The tree is at the entrance to Dapodi village off National Highway 65  and the Daund-Patas Road in Pune district. “We live in the next village, Nangaon,” Surekha adds. “ It is about an hour’s walk from here.”

How much do they earn? “We make 300 rupees or sometimes 400-500 in a day. But sometimes there is no work and we get nothing.”

The Salunkes get this kind of regular work only in the monsoon months.  For the rest of the year, they make small implements like weeders and farmers’ knives to sell in the market. Five of their six children are married – four daughters and a son. Their youngest son has passed his Class 12 and is looking for work.

Watch video: The Salunkes at work, making or repairing iron implements

How much do they earn? “We make 300 rupees or sometimes 400-500 in a day. But sometimes there is no work and we get nothing.”   

The Salunkes get this kind of regular work only in the monsoon months.  For the rest of the year, they make small implements like weeders and farmers’ knives to sell in the market. Five of their six children are married – four daughters and a son. Their youngest son has passed his Class 12 and is looking for work.

Surekha does most of the talking during our brief encounter. “My husband never went to school,” she says, “but I have studied up to the seventh standard.” I give her a PARI brochure in Marathi; she promises to read it and show it to her son.

Namita Waikar is a writer, translator, and the managing editor of PARI. She is a partner in a chemistry databases firm, and has worked as a biochemist and a software project manager.

Other stories by Namita Waikar