Woman’s Wages by Patnala Iswara Rao

Alugolu[1] bus is running along the Nellimarla[2] river to Ramatheerdhalu[3].

Ramatheerthalu Hill is visible far away- like a finely polished, single stone.

A little away, a man is waving his hand to stop the bus. A woman was beside him carrying a child. The bus stopped.

“Baboo![4] Is it Alugolu bus?”

“Yeah!” the conductor’s voice is mingled with the noise of the bus door as it opened.

He is wearing a pancha[5] that is barely covering his knees, and a tee shirt, torn and foul-smelling. He is looking like a xerox copy of the country’s economic system.

“How much fare to Alugolu, Baboo….?” He asked wiping his face with a sweaty towel.

“One and a half rupee”

“How much for my lady, Baboo??” The passengers in the bus burst into a big laughter.

“Naidu[6] sir! It is same fare either for ladies or your highness. Total three rupees,” answered the conductor sarcastically, with a twisted smile.

People in the bus laughed roaring again..

The man could understand the meaning of such laughs.

“In our village, we all work the hardest, from sunrise to sunset, and they never pay the same wages to our ladies as they give us Baboo! That’s why I asked,” said Naidu.

The bus left.

Outside the sun is showing his glory.

[End]

(Translated by Sai Padma Murthy, and originally published on thulika.net, March 2005.)

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[1] A village in Vizianagaram district, Andhra Pradesh

[2] A village in Vizianagaram district, Andhra Pradesh

[3] Ramatheerdhalu- a place of pilgrimage in Vizianagaram district, Andhra Pradesh

[4] A form of address like “sir” –used by lower class people to show their respect to upper class and educated people

[5] A kind of outfit for men. Long, one piece cloth, made of cotton, worn like pants.

[6] A caste name, also used in addressing.