She neither knows her age, nor the cost price of the national flag she sells. All that she knows is that she has to sell the ‘jhanda’ for Rs. 10 or Rs. 15. For 20-something old Kaaire from Rajasthan, who perches on the median at the Ramanathapuram signal waiting for vehicles to stop, selling national flags is just “one of the businesses” she does for livelihood.
Those passing through the Lakshmi Mills signal and Ramanathapuram signal for the last week or so would not have missed natives of Rajasthan selling national flags in the form of metal stands that could be kept as table tops or on the car dashboards.
Their business changes with the season and the important days that dot the calendar. Independence Day brought the national flag into their hands to be sold for a sum.
For illiterate Kaaire the national flag does not mean anything more than a mere source of income. A slight mound reveals that she is pregnant. But she is not aware whether she is three or four months into the pregnancy. She lost her two-year-old child to some sickness some time ago.
She says she sells some 10 pieces a day, but is not able to put a total figure to the income she earns a day. “My husband gives me the flags and tells me to sell here”.
“The flags are from Delhi. My family of 10 sell at different places and we are able to make around Rs. 400 a day. We stay near the railway station. Before selling ‘jhanda’ we sold wares like bangles and earrings from Rajasthan near the Town Hall,” she says.
She is not aware whether people buy the flags from her out of a sense of patriotism or for providing her some income. All that she knows is that Thursday is Independence Day and hence, the flags can be sold only till that evening.
So, what will she do on Friday? “Will think of something tomorrow morning,” she tells standing bare feet on the road looking for the next buyer.