It has been exactly one week since our trip to Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) and I still can't seem to get those images outside my head.
As is the routine with every tourist spot in India, Mahabs (as they call it here) has a huge influx of tourists - local and foreigners. Agreed that the architecture is spectacular and beaches are beautiful. Normally, it would have been an ideal weekend getaway on short budget. Amid the huge tourist influx, I wonder how many wait to notice the poor ladies selling beaded ornaments.
We reached there around 11 in the morning and were immediately hounded by a woman selling bead necklace. She was carrying a baby, carefully put up in a cloth bag hung across her chest. She was pregnant with another child. What was striking about this woman was, the baby was positioned right on her breast, while she continued to have her hands full with these beaded necklaces.
A little while later, as my friends negotiated on the price of hats being sold near the Shore Temple, I saw plenty other women like the earlier one. Most of them were carrying children, just like she was. The rest were pregnant. I was quite overwhelmed when I noticed that every one of these women either had a baby or was pregnant. And they seemed like they were in their early to mid-twenties.
I saw the first woman again. This time the baby had woken up and was crying. She kept yelling out, trying to sell the necklaces to anyone who was interested. At the same time, she tried hard to breast feed her baby and stop its crying.
Although it was a good trip with friends, I am still haunted with questions about those women.
I wonder what their life is like everyday. Children are a huge responsibility and to see them juggling motherhood with livelihood, just humbles me. I cannot imagine such a loss of privacy, but these women seem to have none.
One can't help but imagine...the lives of others.