How many of us wonder if there is a story behind the broom or the mop that lay in forgotten corners of our homes?
This episode of Active Women hosted by RJ Usha features Tulasi, a woman whose life revolves around broom-making. She lives with her family at TC Palya in a settlement composed of fifty huts. “I make 100 to 200 brooms every day. My husband doesn’t make them, but we go out together to sell them,” she says. Having had to stop her schooling after the VIII standard, Tulasi mentions that broom-making was the only skill she was equipped with and could use to earn a living.
Her family, in fact, has a history of broom-making, so she picked up the trade naturally right from her childhood. The family moved to Bangalore from Andhra Pradesh about 30 years ago and continued to make brooms, functioning as a family business. The raw materials for the brooms, Tulasi says, are collected by them from nearby forests and lakes. Tulasi and her family now own a machine that cuts the straws used for the brooms. The straws then have to be smoothened manually, later to be tied up into different types of brooms. Once finished, the family members travel in groups to several towns and villages to sell the brooms.
Working within this socio-economic stratum invariably means facing a range of difficulties. Tulasi mentions that the hand-work involved in smoothening the straws results in painful blisters on the palms. She also reveals the difficulty she faces in balancing her strenuous physical work with the care of her children. Travelling to different towns and villages carrying all their luggage also is often very expensive. “There’s no end to the difficulties,” Tulasi laments. “But, I dream of educating my children and freeing them from the familial occupation of broom-making.”
Written by Vybhavi Adiga.