I was born in my parental home in Diamond Harbor in North Parganas. My husband’s elder brother’s’ son had negotiated our marriage. My husband brought me to Naya after marriage. I used to make different kinds of clay dolls when I first came here. I had a sister-in-law who would manage the family. Afterwards, since my father was the sole earning member, it was quite difficult. There were five brothers and sisters, and meals were uncertain. We ate two meals some days and starved others. It was very tight. I was the only one who went out everywhere. I would go out for work. After marriage, I’d make clay dolls and go out to sell them. My husband used to work as a house builder’s assistant. On days when he didn’t have work, he’d go around the villages to beg. We struggled to bring up our five children.

Now my sons are painting scrolls, going out, and earning. I can sit at home now. I paint a little for the committee. My sons work all year round. All of them are painters. Nobody is idle. Once they had grown up my bad days were over. I am fine now, thanks to my children. I work a bit, but only when I fell like it. I joined the women’s committee to get some money when I can. In order to go somewhere, because I have never gone out. Nor has anyone taken me. I can’t sing very well. Many of us go. This time they sent me to Delhi. I never went anywhere. I’d learn from him. Suppose he had prepared the colors and gone out, I’d put some colors, or he had left a drawing, I would color it. When he asked who had done it I would tell him I had. He would scold me because it was bad. After doing this a few times, he asked me to do it slowly and learn. Then, after I painted for some time, he told me that I could learn and ti was fine. I like painting gods and goddesses. I really enjoy painting Durga a name of a goddess whose appearance is often beautiful but whose nature is nurturing as well as fierce. She was created from the combined tejas or fiery energy of the gods, who had been defeated by Mahisa Asura, the Buffalo Demon, and rode forth on her lion to battle the enemy. Her function is to restore Dharma and the cosmic balance, and to defeat the enemies of the gods. In many regions of India, Durga’s festival is celebrated at the end of Aswin (lunar month of September-October), known to her devotees also as Navaratri and Durga Puja. This is the case in Bengal. and Kali. I also like the subjects of my daughter’s scrolls, but I haven’t been able to concentrate on them. I’m trying though. I’ll do those nice ones if I can.


Scrolls by Meena