Can we bring back Ayesha's Ammi ?

By Ramesh S Arunachalam and Microfinance in India Blog Team

Locating the Nabee Saab household in Kurnool is not difficult as it is near the Kabrasthan, the Muslim grave yard. And ‘Ayesha’, a 3 year old constantly crying for her Ammy, cannot go unnoticed, even as one enters the Nabee Saab house – a thin roofed structure, built on about 60 Sq ft of land. Standing outside the house is a 45-year-old person – who later turned out to be Nabee Saab – holding a sweet looking girl (about 3 years old). The tiny house, which is built of mud walls and some stone, has just 2 rooms – one where the entire family of 4 people (earlier 6 people) sleeps, lives and eats and another where the cooking is done and items are stored. There is a toilet outside.

The size of the house becomes more telling with the small girl’s constant crying for her mother Zaheera Bhee, who apparently committed suicide on 13/09/2010, as she was unable to make the repayments for the various loans she had taken. At least that is the cause provided by the family survivors…

It is in the above back drop that, Khaza (20), the eldest son of Zaheera Bhee and a painter by profession, narrated the pathetic heart rendering story…with some inputs from his father, Nabee Saheb.

Nabee Saheb, who is the head of this household, is a tailor and he has no stable income. He works in a tailoring unit nearby and payment of money for his work is based on the ability of the unit’s owner to procure work locally. As Nabee Sahebmentions, “By and large, I make around Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 a month (between Rs 750 to Rs 1000 per week and Rs 900 is common) but that is not assured as most of the young people are buying ready made garments these days. During festival seasons the unit gets orders from older people and in those months (which are not many in number), I would surely make Rs 4000 per month. In the lean months, I sometimes even get just Rs 2000 per month.”

Khaza adds, “I came back from Hyderabad become my mother and father wanted me to come and help out at home. My mother, Zaheera Bhee, used to do odd jobs in the town (like at the markets) and again, she did not have regular employment. So, my coming back helped as I was able to find work as a painter for 6 days in a week and bring home Rs 1200. However, this was not at all sufficient then because there were three other children to cloth and feed – Parveen (18) married and now gone with her husband, Muzambil (10) and Ayesha (3) – as well as several loan repayments to be made, day after day for weeks”.

Nabee Saheb reinforces this and argues that among the children, only Khaza has been able to support the family and his painting work fetches him Rs 1200 a week; he is also quick to add that Khaza can find work almost every week – and says that Khaza’s income is the most regular within the family – by the grace of God. Please see Table 1 hereafter for a summary of sources provided by the family.

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