Excerpts from a Fellow’s Diary – beneath the cost of Brinjals

Indian woman vending vegetables
She knows the market well.

It may be an urban psychology but when we see an old person or a small child selling something, we prefer to buy from them. It may be just to give a helping hand or may be in sympathy.

On one of the days when I was visiting the local tribal Haat (weekly market) of Doraguda, my eyes were drawn towards an old lady of about 50 to 52 years selling brinjals. I had the instinctive feeling to ask her the price of the brinjals she was selling. She looked at me from head to toe with wary eyes. For an instant I thought that it had been wrong for me to ask her the price or perhaps it was my appearance (I usually wear a pant and shirt everyday, which is fairly unusual attire in such tribal locations). After a few seconds, she replied, literally like, Babu (Sir) “What we sell is mud and what we buy is gold”. I was stunned by her answer and it made me think deeper about what she had said.

Somehow I maintained my composure and bought approx. 1 kg. of brinjals from her. (The farmers here are usually not used to weighing their produce; they sell it in a pile). I gave her Rs.10 instead of the Rs. 5 that she had demanded. She handed me the balance and I told her to keep the change, as I would buy something from her at the next haat session. She laughed.

That one statement of hers, defined my project. I worked on the marketing of produce of tribal communities in Jeypore district of Odisha.

– SBI YFI FELLOW Soumyashree Omprakash Sahoo

* The accompanied photo is indicative. The woman in the story refused to be photographed.