Taaza Khabar: Kavita's story
Director: Bishakha Datta; Cinematographer: Ranu Ghosh
Duration: 00:39:35; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 335.762; Saturation: 0.006; Lightness: 0.308; Volume: 0.191; Cuts per Minute: 1.440; Words per Minute: 46.931
Summary: Part of the footage of the film Taaza Khabar directed by Bishakha Datta and produced by Nirantar. The film is about the journey of a team of all women journalists of Khabar Lahariya (a grassroots newspaper published by the women themselves) through several obstacles. The determined efforts are to ensure the 62nd issue of Khabar Lahariya reaches its readers on time. The women are from Chitrakoot district in U.P. who report stories that find no space in mainstream media. It also portrays how these women have created their own space and established their identity in a context where patriarchy and caste-based discriminations are dominant. In this event, the life of Kavita, one of the Khabar Lahariya journalists is captured while she does her daily chores around her home. Kavita then shares her story, recounting her past and reconciling with it in her present.
street, vehicles, crossing, buildings, pathway, music, door, village, cow, woman
Kavita, one of the Khabar Lahariya journalists, walks across the street and the camera follows her to her home. She walks past a rural landscape, with muddy roads and bare infrasturcture. She passes by a woman buying vegetables from a vegetable vendor, and men who are sitting outside their homes listlessly. She reaches her home, opens the doorlock and enters. The building is painted a light green on the outside, quite striking compard to the rest of the houses in that stretch.
bike, lock, key, door, fan, television, bed, broom, cleaning, doormat, clothes, kitchen, bucket, utensils, newspaper
Once Kavita enters her home, she immediately starts to clean the place, starting with arranging the bedsheet on the bed. She puts on the fan and starts to clean the floor of the room with a broom and cleans it till the end of the corridoor to the door that leads outside. She comes back to arrange utensils in her kitchen, neatly placing the glasses, plates and bowls next to each other and in a particular pattern.
bottle, vessels, mirror, picture, light, aishwarya rai, notebook, vase, handpump, water
She finally sits down to relax in front of the fan and turns the television on. The television does not work and projects a bright blue screen that lends a unique ambience to the otherwise poorly lit room. The camera captures a few other details of the room like a hanging bulb, a pile of newspaper, a small mirror, a paper fan, clothes and a polythene bag hanging on the wall, a book called Humare Geet (Our Song), a notebook with a picture of Aishwarya Rai (a famous Indian actress), and shelves with neatly arranged utensils and other household items.
Kavita picks up buckets and starts to fill water in it by pumping the handpump. She starts to wash the floor using the water. She continues to pump water to store some more water in the buckets. The act of pumping water looks like a tiring task, but Kavita does it steadily and expertly. She leaves the washing arena and moves into another room, where she picks up a folded cot and stretches is out to use. She sits down on the cot and wipes her face with her saree, settling down to read a newspaper. She intently reads the paper, though her face looks tired as she yawns. She follows the text with her finger while she reads.
bed, window, belt, shoes, bag, newspaper
Kavita (K): (Holding a rope in her room and talking to the camera) There was a discussion around Mahila Dakiya, and how similar is Khabar Lahariya going to be. We were also explained the differences between the two.
mahila dakiya, join, bishakha, karwi, khabar lahariya, illiterate, marriage, young, housework, farming, study, work, collector, wish, afternoon, name, village, in-laws, father, information, school, expense, difficult, join
Bishakha interviews Kavita about her background and her experience as a journalist. Kavita is holding a brown rope that is hanging from above the wall. She introduces herself and talks about how she joined Mahila Dakiya (a broadsheet newspaper that had preceded the birth of Khabar Lahariya. The Mahila Dakiya was part of a government initiated village based programme for women's empowerment called Mahika Samakhya). Kavita shares how she always had interest to study and joined the Mahila Shiksha Kendra (Women's Education Centre) which was a six month course. She faced opposition from her family, especially her in-laws who dint see the point of getting an education because she was married. Kavita, however, was steadfast about her dream and continued to study. Her father supports her decision to study.
Bishakha (B): What is your name and what do you do?
K: I am Kavita, I stay in Karvi in a rented room, my parents' house is a few kilometers from here, on Sahai road. I work as a journalist in Khabar Lahariya for three years.
B: So Kavita how did you get associated with Mahila Dakiya and when?
K: There was a school that was opened for women literacy and ….
B: Say it again, I am asking you again
B: So Kavita how did you get associated with Mahila Dakiya and when?
K: Initially I used to stay in the village and was illiterate. I was married off when I was twelve. I used to do household work, rear animal or work in the field. Then I came across the Mahila Samakhya Initiative on women's literacy who had their centres in different villages. So I started going there but from my family there were oppositions. They were wondering what I would do studying, would I get a job or become a collector. But I was very interested to study, so I would finish work and go their in the afternoons when there would be no one at home. I then knew how to write my name and address. Then they opened a school – Mahila Siksha Kendra (Women's Education Centre where there was a six month course. I wanted to go and study there. There were hurdles here as well that you are married and what would the in-laws think of. My family said you are someone else's possession now; we are to protect you so you cannot go. My father went out for work in the field and I went to school. He then came back and the neighbors said one does not know what happens there, whether there are men or not. But then I did my own struggle and studied. Also there my in-laws came. Aarti didi and Madhavi didi met my parents and inlaws and explained to them, I finished six months of work and when I went home I was quite well off with knowledge and information and then I took admission in the fifth standard and I came first in the class. When my folks saw the results they were happy and my father believed that I could study. But he was hesitant that I would have to travel alone to Karvi. My in-laws were also reluctant but I was sure that I wanted to study. But now I had my sent off rituals which I was not willing to let happen as I wanted to study till tenth standard. But there was the question of right time and rituals and expenses, therefore I was sent off. My father was supportive; he felt I was a bright student so he also invested in me. Since sixth I kept going to my in-laws and studying at the same time. Now I am in the B.A final year.
I had to face some difficulties back then as well at my in-laws.
After the six month stint to make a network of readers and writers Mahila Dakiya was initiated and I was associated with them, then worked at the Vanagana play "Mujhe Jawab Do"(Give me an Answer) for a while and then my husband fell ill. There was a stone on his kidney. Every time he would go to the toilet there would be blood coming out from his urine. I used to stay more at my parents place. At my in-laws they would treat him with herbs as recommended by some elderly. Now he was my husband and I wanted to balance everything and also look after him. So from the money I used to get for my scholarship I started getting medicines for my husband. My in-laws said my husband was faking it, so I got him to my parents place. When everyone refused to support me, I went and got my dowry and decided to sell it off and use the money for his medication. It was getting tougher to balance my studies. But I decided to take care of him because he was my life partner. I took him to the hospital and post the x-ray it got confirmed that there was a stone identified. I left him there and came to Karvi and arranged for money literally begging from everyone. Some gave 200, some 500, Madhavi didi also helped and my father also invested about 2-4000 thousand as per his ability. After the operation there was a stone of 200 gms. that was removed. After the in-laws got to know they came and paid a visit, nobody asked where and how did I arrange for so much money nothing. I was worried how to get off the debt. I did not want to be a burden on my parents, so I went off to Punjab leaving my studies to work as a labourer so that I could pay off the debt. I gave silver anklet or bangles only as a token that I would give back the money after I come back. My husband was not allowed to work for a year. I started working there as a labourer. It was very cold there, around January. I would dig the land, very solid earth. Would not understand the language too well either, my uncle who took me there was also not good wit the language. So I worked in a brick house and did the entire hard labour there because the more I would work the more money would I get. I would work so hard and I was not used to it back here, so I would also fall sick. Then I came back and went to live with my inlaws. There I got pregnant but there would be blood discharge. I told my husband but he ignored it and I lost the baby. Shauli didi and the others took me to the doctor and got myself cleaned but they said I would have to be on medication for 2-3 months as my womb was weak. Still no cared. After that my mother in law fell ill and I started paying for her treatment. Now as I had not taken care of myself the blood discharge continued for the next 15 months. I suggested if I could take 1000 rupees of the two thousand and stay separately and do my treatment. I told my husband, my father and mother in law but nobody listened to me. Then I deteriorated, my colleagues said I must get my treatment done but no one in the family listened, I felt defeated. They said I was faking it. I felt for all those I had done so much, I sacrificed my education; I worked as a labourer to treat my husband, atleast I expected him to support the treatment even if he was not earning to pay for it. I told him I will take care of the expenses I want you to be there. I was working, got my sister in law married off, paid for the delivery of her child. For everyone I did as much as I could. It was my inlaws place, I was the eldest among them and also educated. So I thought I do not want anyone to say what kind of a girl has come into the house. I took care of everyone as much as a man does. But when I could not take it anymore I cried to my father in law, he said if you stay separately I will burn down the house, I agreed thinking he was elderly but asked him to get my treatment done. Then I had to go to Allahabad for some work and he went off to Delhi. Then I decided there was no point for me to be in that house. I separated and stayed on my own here. I wanted to take care of myself and do my treatment. I wanted to live my own life. I thought I should stay with someone wo would support me, so I started staying separately
husband, blood, illness, medicines, health, money, father, borrow, punjab, hardwork
Kavita continues to narrate her story and talks about the time when her husband fell ill and she took care of all his medical expenses. She used the money from her scholarship and also begged other people to collect enough money for his treatment. After he got better, she had to find a way to pay off the debt. The only way she could have done this was by working, and so she went to Punjab to do labour work. She worked hard there to raise the money, but the weather there was very cold and as a result she fell ill. When she got back home, she became pregnant, but she had health problems where she had to face excess bleeding. She tried to get help from her husband and in-laws hoping that they would take care of her, but they did not take her seriously, and she lost her baby. This incident impacted Kavita strongly and made her decide to leave that house and live on her own so that she could take care of herself. She took this step because she did not want to live with people who did not care for her or for any of the good she had done for them. She thought it's best if she moved out and lived separately.
work, earth, illness, inlaws, child, defeat, pretending, cure, office, marriage
birds, realize, fire, room, delhi, life
K: (Sobbing) I have to stay alone. What else can I do? (Wiping her tears)
Close up Shot of Kavita
K: It was 10 years I could not conceive that was one prime reason I guess.
And as I was losing blood continuously our sex life was nonexistent, so he was looking for reasons to get away from me. He would accuse me of ills, the fact that we did not have a child, I guess was a primary issue. But they started mistreating me….also I thought even if I have to sacrifice my head, its my brother and sister in law like my own children so I would do it for them. But then there was nobody for me (sobbing), the water had risen above the head so I retreated. They accused me of being a dirty woman, accused me of superstitious beliefs that I wanted to kill my husband I said if I had to do that I could have in several ways much earlier. Why are you accusing me now? You should have been taking care of your son whom I took care of as a child, you have no right to accuse me of anything. So I got sour and I decided to leave.
My parents are still supportive though
alone, tears, reason, use
Kavita breaks down and shares the helplessness of living alone. She gathers herself together, but takes her time to recover from the pain. After explaining more clearly the reasons why she left her home, Kavita is silent and looks away, lost in her thoughts.
B: You are not in touch with your inlaws anymore?
K: No, it been a year I left. My husband lived here with me for a while but he again started that he was infected with TB…everyone knows I much care I have taken of him, so I stay alone, not necessary everyone must have the husband….
development, sky, earth, self belief, computer
Bishakha asks Kavita if working with Khabar Lahariya and Mahila Dakiya has brought any transformation to her life. Kavita proudly talks about how it has immensely changed her life and has helped her aquire and practise skills that she has learnt during her association with the newspaper.
B: So Kavita working with Khabar Lahariya and Mahila Dakiya have you felt any change?
K: A lot of changes like the difference is between earth and sky. When I was with Mahila Dakiya there were improvements but the skills I have upgraded now in Khabar Lahariya in myself I feel a huge change. I know how to talk to all kinds of people and officials, also arguing with them about right and wrong. Getting concepts like democracy, citizenship in place with the series of workshops have helped me a lot. Through news journalism workshops, community development workshops for skill building I got to understand about communal harmony, initially the idea was Muslims are bad, or getting to understand gender these skills have developed. Now that we go out, we can talk, debate about everything like politics also. I do not hesitate in anything and I have become very self confident that I can do anything, I set goals for my studies of about some news assignment. I never thought I would know how to operate and work on a computer but through these workshops I have developed my skills, like the Jaal-Jungle workshops also I know I have the skills in me today to perform.