Chandana Sahoo, a reader, tells us about the interaction she and her husband had with a family of artisans
Saisundar is a content man. With wife Sraddha and an army of nine children as his associates, he infuses life into his creations in plaster of Paris, out of which the family makes a living. Out with my husband on a bright Sunday morning, armed with our camera, we looked forward to capturing some action in our vicinity, and chanced upon this family of artisans. Unsure of the reaction we would evoke, we approached the family, which welcomed us with arms wide open, much to our disbelief and joy.
Theirs is a happy family. Originally from Rajasthan, Bangalore has been home to them for the last 15 years. Though initially keen on travelling from place to place to showcase their art, the warmth of the people of this city brought about a change of plan, and they are here to stay.
A makeshift tent by K.R. Puram Main Road is the family’s abode. The perpetual flow of traffic fails to distract them. Absorbed in their work of crafting idols, their fingers move swiftly and meticulously, giving shape to their imagination. Saisundar travels to Gujarat often to fetch the raw materials that they need; then the moulds are made, and finally the idols are created. Seasonal festivities play a pivotal role in boosting sales and income for this family: they did brisk business during Ganesh Chaturthi.
Taking forward the family vocation is Saisundar’s eldest son in Assam. He is learning the art of idol making, apprenticed to his relatives there. The rest of the children live here with their parents. The older ones are involved in one way or another in the process of carving idols. For a myriad reasons, the children are deprived of education — poverty being the prime cause. The youngest child is ill and cannot move about on his own. We wonder if he gets the required medical attention.
Living without even basic amenities, this family is plagued by poverty and illness. We can only marvel at their ability to lead life so smoothly. The cheer in the atmosphere there is contagious, as are the children’s smiles. They deserve a better quality of life. For us, what started out as a street photography session culminated in some profound introspection. The lesson was very clear — happiness is a choice. With a family to share happiness with, the smallest of joys double in size, there is a spring in every step, and devoid of riches, life can still be beautiful.