If Kamala From Kumaon was Literate This is What She Would Have Written to PM Modi
GARAM PANI: Dear Pradhan Mantriji,
I am a young woman with three children. I live alone in our village, with my three small children as my husband is working in Delhi. Till recently his mother was with me, but now she is so ill that they had to take her to Delhi for treatment. So I have been managing the kheti, the cows and the goats and of course my children who are all going to school.
I live with the little money that my husband sends me every month. Our land just produces enough for us to survive on in the year. I had Rs 8200 with me when I woke up and their was halla in the village that all our money was now raddi. I could not understand what was going on, and just then my husband called saying I should go immediately to the grameen bank in our village and change the money to Rs 100 notes. I have never been to a bank Sir, I did not know what to do. But then many of the women, whose husbands are also working in the cities, were in the same plight and we walked to the grameen bank. There was no money there, even now there is no money there.
The village men told us we would have to go six kilometres to another large village where there is a bank. So 8 women, all in the same plight, walked to the bank. (remember these are mountains without proper roads in parts).One of our women was pregnant, 7 months, and needed the money even more than we did.
We went to the bank. There was a long queue. We lined up and were so worried about Janki as she was finding it very difficult. We made her sit, and waited. The evening came but we were still in the queue. By 4.30 the bank said it had no money. We could not walk back as it gets dark in the hills and we were all women.We booked a tempo, all of us got in, and had to pay him with the little we had.
The next day I could not go. My children were alone. My neigbours could not look after them, my mother was not able to reach from her vilage and I had to feed the goats and cows, and do all the daily chores.
The next morning I woke up very early,finished what I could and joined the women who were going to the bank. We walked there, and we walked back without any money as this day the bank had no rupees to give us. It took the better part of the day.
The third morning I went again. We stood in line till late, but the rush was huge and my turn never came. Sir, I was desperate by this time as there was no money at home. I had money and yet felt I was a beggar as I had to ask one of the village women to pay for my ride home.
It was only on the fourth day that they gave me Rs 2000, they did not have more. And I will have to go back to exchange the money again. My husband is trying to send me Rs 100 notes if he can, but he is finding it difficult as he has to look after his ill mother who is in hospital.
My pradhan said it is because of the rich people who make kaala dhan. But what crime have we committed. There is no black money here. We are all poor women living off our earnings. But now we have no money. Poor Janki she could not go back again. But now her husband has left his job and come back. I don’t know how they will manage as she has 3 children also and if he cannot get his job back what will they do. They have very little land.
The route? Yes it is across the mountain and not easy, We manage, you won’t be able to move. Please come here Pradhan Mantri ji and see what you have done to us. We work hard for what we earn, my husband in the city, and we here in the village keeping our land fertile, and our children fed. It is not easy, it is very very difficult but at least we were earning some money. You have now taken away our money. And you say we should be happy, for what? Winter is coming, I had to buy some clothes for my children.
I do not even know what to say.
(Editors note: We interviewed Kamla over the phone as her sister came to us for help.She lives in a remote village. And by the end she was crying, completely tired out and at her wits end. This is part of The Citizen series of reports on the problems being faced by the ‘faceless’ citizens of India after the demonetisation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.)