Besides Salman Khan, Gopi bahu (from a daily soap) is another favourite of Sangeeta. Narrating an incident where she helped a family member to give up his drinking habits, she proudly mentioned, it was her favourite- Gopi bahu from whom she got inspiration to unconditionally love one’s family. She even went to a zoo in the city and remembers गेण्डा –genda– Rhinoceros and was feeling excited like a child. At home she loves मिठू -Mithu, the parrot. And felt animals like cows, buffaloes are common in villages; they are part of the family so the notion of favourite animal or bird is difficult for her to understand. Yellow is her favourite colour. While she was not able to remember the word पीला –peela meaning yellow, she pointed at the marigold outside her house. Later showed some of her yellow saris as well. She loves wearing danglers or longs earrings-लम्बी लम्बी झुमकी lambi lambi jhumki. In fact, one day we exchanged earrings to see how it looks… then she mentioned how every ten fifteen days she would change her earrings and often commented on my dressing, jewellery etc.
गीता -Sangeeta was मधुबाला– Madhubala before she got married. There is this tradition of changing the girl’s name by would be in-laws according to the alphabet the priest suggests at the time of marriage.
In one of the conversations, ललिता -Lalita (Bhuri kaki’s youngest daughter in law who was प्रेमलता– Premalata before her marriage) mentioned that it is considered to be auspicious to have names according to the alphabet suggested by the priest. While the parents of a girl may do that at the time of the birth, the in-laws make sure they do it again at the time of marriage so that there is enough compatibility between the couple. She also mentioned how marriage transforms a girl; she becomes part of another family, which will eventually be her family and her identity. So, changing the name is a kind of reinforcement of those changes.
Coming back to Sangeeta, she is thirty, thirty-two years old. Again, it is based on the information in the bank account. She has no idea what her name means whether Sangeeta or Madhubala. She heads the Dinanath Self Help Group (SHG) in Kharveda along with Kachri. She has studied till class 5 in her primary years. Confident and fun loving, Sangeeta loves to talk. Mother of three – eldest Heena, her daughter got married few days before I first met her. The other two are Akshit and Dharmesh, school going boys, eleven or twelve years old. Her husband, mother-in-law and father-in-law all work in Ahmedabad at the construction sites. They visit her during the festivals and the harvesting season. It is in the city that Sangeeta watched her first movie” मैंने प्यार किया” – Maine pyar kiya. She is a great admirer of Salman Khan especially because of his बॉडी– baady ( body). The other day I was wondering how Sangeeta would react to the news of her favourite hero going to jail and then managed to get out of it as well; how will she react to the various charges on her idol; whether she will be able to maintain righteousness while reacting to this context. Next time I visit Kharveda, I would love to speak to her about it. Or maybe I should call her one of these days.
For that matter, what, how, when, which version of a news reaches these far-flung villages and how it is understood is worth thinking about. I clearly remember daughter of Kachri from Semalia asking me about the December 16th, 2012 Nirbhaya rape case and how most of them feel Delhi to be an unsafe rather a bad place to be in because girls get raped over there. Yes, Delhi is unsafe but then this is not the only thing to know.
In fact, she was showing me the kind of cosmetics, undergarments available in Partapur. She even said how complicated it is to wear sari and work in fields. While working they have to constantly take care of the पल्लू– pallu… to cover their head. Otherwise, the elders in the village criticize. Enacting the posture, she said waist and other body parts like cleavage, hands etc gets exposed in a sari when they are cutting crops, picking fodder etc. She loves using perfumes and has got two three different ones. Fond of cooking she makes lot of different things. she loves eating ladies’ fingers- भिन्डी की सब्जी. Sangeeta is good at stitching. Often, she would do that. She even showed the wall she painted for her daughter’s wedding.
When asked, she wasn’t sure whether she would like to become a woman in her next birth. She said while she would love to but men have more freedom मर्दों को ज़्यादा छूंट है – mardon ko zyaada choont hai. Even if it is a man’s fault, everyone blames the woman. Even women themselves blame another woman. She feels though men are stronger(physically), they earn livelihood, a woman can be persistent in her ways, वह चाहे तो उसको अपने इशारे पे नचा सकती है –woh chahe to usko apne ishaare pe nacha sakti hain. While she was discussing all this, she felt being single I won’t be able to grasp such undercurrents between the sexes.
Sangeeta is a bundle of energy. Often, she would tell me different things about her village – facts, gossip, scandals, all. She was very enthusiastic the day children of the village gathered to draw and share their stories with each other. However, she feels they need to do more especially the women in the SHG. During the five weeks that I spent interacting with the women in Kharveda, Sangeeta was the only one who used to ask me what the other artists were doing in other villages and how the women in those villages were reacting.