A chisel and hammer are her toys and carving stone mortars and pestles a game for six-year-old Golusula Saidamma.

Her fingers, which are strong enough to hold a pencil, struggle to keep steady the chisel that shakes at very blow of the hammer.

Saidamma belongs to a family that ekes out a living carving mortars and pestles, used in kitchen to grind masalas and chutneys, out of granite blocks.

Her father Balayya and mother Pentamma and paternal grandmother Balamma work continuously to produce these mortars and pestles.

When her parents go to sell the produce in the market or in the different residential areas in the city, Saidamma gives her grandmother company.

The girl child takes up the chisel when her grandmother takes a break, either to rest or do some household chore.

The family literally lives in the open, with just a tarpaulin held up by a pile of un-carved blocks of granite and a draw cart.

When the blocks of granite run out in a month or two, the family moves on.

Before coming to the city and setting up tent on the Vijayawada-Nuzvid Road between Budamerru flood bank and Ajitsingh Nagar, the family spent a couple of months in Hanuman Junction.

They go back to their home in Miryalaguda for important festivals. This is the nomadic life they lead.

Saidamma was fortunate enough to attend school in Hanuman Junction, but the schools in the city have refused her admission when they found out that she would leave in a couple of months.

Fond of studying

Very fond of studying, Saidamma can read the alphabet.

She is also able to identify without difficulty the different animals, birds, vegetables, fruits and other objects from her picture book.

But the nomadic life of her parents has affected her childhood to the extent that she is forced to make toys out of a hammer and chisel.

More In: Vijayawada