Monday, May 14, 2012

The Koli Woman

Day after day they sit on a wooden stool. They organize their fish into stacks. Wet organs. Dry miniatures. Juicy mid-sections. Bloody heads. Neat piles, fresh out of the stale ice packed in styrofoam boxes. They sift, they snap, they slice with a precision honed over decades of repetition. Like a rubix cube only turns at certain angles, the head of the fish is snapped at the same angle. Every. Single. Time. I stare with amazement.

I sit next to them, bouncing from conversation to conversation, from one woman to the next. One orders a glass of sugarcane for me. I refuse. She pushes. I drink. Another woman gives me a glass of fresh lemonade. Roti made of rice flour with fish sabji. Sweet, soft puran poli. Vada pao. Each woman has something different to offer me. Resistance is truly futile in front of their sweet, motherly aggression.

They laugh, they scream, they argue. The Koli women are phenomenal in their projection. They can be loud. Really, really loud. And they can be warm. And crass. They are independent and despite a fairly challenging life with economic constraints, they manage to stay dedicated to their family and to their fish. 

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