Surekha and Chaburao heat the metal in a makeshift furnace
PHOTO • Binaifer Bharucha

Surekha and Chaburao heat the metal in a makeshift furnace

“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.”

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

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 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 Managing Editor at the People's Archive of Rural India. She is the author of the novel 'The Long March', published in 2018.

Other stories by Namita Waikar
Text Editor : Sharmila Joshi

Sharmila Joshi is former Executive Editor, People's Archive of Rural India, and a writer and occasional teacher.

Other stories by Sharmila Joshi