In this interview with RJ Asha, Geeta Bhonsle narrates the story of her persistence while working an inconvenient job and being the only breadwinner in her family.
When she was married off at the age of 18, she had entered a life that was completely new to her. To her woe, she soon found out that her husband was an alcoholic. Since he would not contribute financially to the family, the responsibility of running the house and taking care of their three daughters fell entirely on Geeta’s shoulders. She shifted to Bangalore in search of a better life with her family. It was then that she found out about garment factories. Although she knew nothing about the nature of work in a garment factory, she resigned herself to learn to do whatever work she was given and landed a job as a ‘checker’.
Geeta, disadvantaged because she possessed none of the skills required for her job, faced a lot of problems at her workplace. Her supervisor would always be extremely cross with her about the slow pace of her work and criticised her for not delivering higher production numbers. Furthermore, the environment at the factory was not conducive to good work. To counter that, Geeta started to carefully pre-plan her work, which in time proved successful, making her workdays more productive than before. She continued to endure the inconvenient work environment and the insufficient pay and did the best job she could. Today, twenty years later, Geeta’s struggle and determination have indeed made her stronger than ever.
Geeta opines that for Bangalore to become a safe working place for women, certain changes must be made and some requirements must be met. There must be safeguards against exploitation and harassment at the workplace. At garment factories, Geeta presses, everybody must be provided with masks. Basic requirements, such as safe drinking water and medical leaves, must be rightfully offered to all workers.
Geeta encourages all women to stand on their own feet and fend for themselves.
Women should live with no fear, she says.
To listen to Geeta’s story of perseverance and more tales of workers from Bangalore’s Garment Factories, tune into Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz’s special program called ‘Behind the Label’ hosted by RJ Asha.
Written by Anagha Bharadwaj.