Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Akhbar wali

How do you explain journalism?

Rather how do you explain being a woman journalist to a Punjabi house wife, who has spent her dog years scrubbing floors, managing cattle, working kitchen economies, giving birth, bringing up children and living a life of near oblivion in her husband’s shadow?

Being a female journalist, from backward and rural area of Bathinda, my presence at spots of murder, accidents, in villages – raised many eyebrows. Many hinted I would never find a groom stating examples of how difficult it is to find husband for a lawyer woman and blah, blah. Others thought I was working for “charity” and “connections”.

After joining Ludhiana, I was relieved to find a change in perspective and greater acceptance of being a woman journalist. But perhaps my happiness was short lived.

As I descended down the stairs of my place and was about to kick off for the day, my landlord’s ma-in-law, who was from Faridkot (another Malwa belt inhabitant) spotted me and called out, “Beta, tusin akhbar che kamm karde hon” (Dear, do you work with a newspaper).

I joined her on the charpoy and nodded in yes. She further went on, “E taan bada aukkha kamm e. Badi mehnat da kamm e” (This is a very difficult and strenuous job).

Finally, my heart said, see here is someone who realizes your hardships. And before I could reply her with thanks, she hastily added, “Pehlan khabaran labbo, pher likho, pher chhaapo te pher savere akhbar vandan jao. Bada aukkha e” (First hunt for the news, then write them, then publish them and go early in the morning to distribute newspapers).

I looked at her in utter surprise, speechless, wound up the conversation and moved on for my day wondering what she had just said.

Later, when I shared this with one of my colleagues, he too had a similar incidence to share when his relatives asked how he made a living.

By the time both of us had guffaws and laughed over the issue, I asked him to which place his relatives belonged?

He answered FARIDKOT.

(The picture is of Homai Vyarawala India's first woman photo journalist. She had a tougher job than mine)