“I remember a time when there were over 30,000 looms in my village, but now there are barely 300. And I think that explains the plight of weavers best. Weaving has been our family’s profession for several generations, and I took it over 45 years ago. Year after year, things only get worse with more and more people switching to the machine-made fabric.
I have four children, three daughters, and one son. I’ve gotten them all married, and it was this loom that earned us our bread and butter, paid for their education, and then their marriage. My son now works for a private firm and supports our family. Besides this loom, we also have a small shop right outside our home. And that’s what was feeding us until a few months ago.
People often ask me why I did not let my son getting into weaving and carry forward the profession of our family. But now, he’s the only earning member, and I cannot make him suffer as we do, that’s unfair. I know that’s sad, but that’s the truth. A weaver has no day-offs, and the day he takes a leave, he makes no money. We toil with the loom for eight hours, and at the end of it, barely make 200 rupees. And in that, I need to pay my staff too. I think they are the worst hit during the pandemic. I at least have my son to take care of me. For the initial few months, I paid them the money that United Way NGO had given me.
In 2016, the whole state was hit by famine, and the porridge pots were set up by the government to feed the poor. We thought that was the worse that could happen, and we’ve hit the lifetime low. But then, Corona proved us all wrong. With the little money I had in hand and what I got from the NGO, I paid my staff and tried to finish a few orders. The sad thing is when the government or the elite say they are doing their bit to handloom, they bargain to the last penny and buy it from us. And then sell it for a few thousand in the city. So, if someone wants actually to help the weavers it can happen by purchasing from us directly or through the NGOs that are working to make a difference. Else, weaving and handloom in India will remain an art that exists only in history textbooks.”
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