Her kilta carries all her burdens. And her kilta carries all her joys.
It is the core of her existence.
Like every other persons’ in these villages out here.
And I am always intrigued by it.
Perhaps because, I have always thought that they use these only in the tea-gardens to put in the tea-leaves; that too only in movies and photographs. Little did I know that a kilta would carry not only their harvests, but all their purchases from the main town too? The list includes almost anything that needs to be carried all the way to or from the village. But now when I look around, I can spot many a hill women, wearing the traditional pattus (hand woven shawls) walking with the backs hunched under the weight of these strong hand woven cane baskets. Of course of late, they have started using the plasticized variant in bright green complete with black broad straps.
And boy, are these women strong? Their daily life is full of hardships, even the narrative of which might sound ancient. At least while sitting before a laptop in a plush seat. But they live exactly that life and they live it happily.
Coming back to her.
Every evening, she boards the bus and sits down next to me. And places her kilta safely by her side. It is covered with a red cloth, tied to the rim of the basket. So I do not know what she carries in it. And I have not had the courage to ask her. And I cannot answer the why this last line evokes.
Sometimes I see her smiling to herself. These days she keeps checking if her basket is safe again and again. I assume she is carrying gifts for her grandkids back home.
The other days, she looks heavyhearted. Perhaps, she has not been able to sell her goods. My brain works out the reason.
Only if I could steal a look into this basket of hers!
But, it is already time for her to get down.
May be tomorrow! Or day after…
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