Beneath the Mahua tree at the foot-hill of Gaja-bura in Bar-para,Purulia
I was surrounded by a group of tribal women. Among us there were a few male members also. Those women were very shy and introvert to speak. Many of them even hided their face with clothes . I could not see them clearly or hear their voice. All on sudden a loud ,vibrant and eloquent voice was heard. It is the way how does Fulkumari ignite fellow members. Her thunder words“ Look straight way...off the veils.. speak loudly.. nothing to fear... always face situation”- ignited the participants. Ice was melted. We started our interactive session.
I was hearing to the lecture of Fulkumari. I wondered how could a common woman from a remote village transformed herself ignoring poverty, social-taboos and male doctrine. In else where I wrote her struggling life. In her own story, a teenage girl was married off while a student of class nine. Amazingly she passed matriculation along with her daughter after almost eighteen years. Thereafter, she qualified higher secondary without depending upon family to meet the cost of education. These are real stories of bravery women. Fulkumari formed women groups and she became an antidote to inebriated male counters in her village.
My mission has been to involve tribal women in growing turmeric in dry tracts. I choose Fulkumari as an ambassador. Fulkumari impressed us in forming a self-help group viz’ Sonar Bangla. Her group consists of different sects. Mallika Bibi, Amrunbibi and Saimon Bibi are active members to her group. They are Muslims by religion. In a rural area it is an example co-existence and harmony among different sects. Kalpana Mahato –another member of the group praised Fulkumari for her progressive and unorthodox attitude. She pointed to the able leadership of Fulkumari.
Fulkumari sooner became a Resource person under DRDC program in the block. Later she became a vibrant Group leader ( Sangha Netri). She has been mobilizing women to form groups. Fulkumari always encourage those groups to take farm and non-farm pursuits. Apart, She has involved them in health care, sanitation , education and child care activities.
I admire her for propagating turmeric cultivation in rain-fed areas. She has established turmeric-seed village at Dumur this year. I was crossing the villages of Harihalgara, Barasina, Kalapathar...etc. All these villages are under turmeric . I must pay credit to the real leader, Fulkumari.
Fulkumari is dreaming for turmeric based home-industry in her village and surroundings. Let her dream come in reality.
A new wave for rural livelihood is waiting. I admit once again the unparallel, unprecedented paradigm set by Fulkumari.