'My family will be famished if I don't go out and sell fish,' says Alphonsia
Attingal: “My family will be famished if I don't go out and sell fish. There are 6 people here. Look at our house. The roof is leaking. We have tied a tarpaulin to stop the leak,” said Alphonsia, a 52-year-old woman living near the Anchuthengu panchayat office. She is a local fish vendor who was manhandled by the municipality workers for selling fish on streetside in Avanancheri, Attingal.
Due to the Covid restrictions, the markets are closed. She had sat on the roadside that day hoping to make a good sale. The municipality staff arrived after she had just gotten to the junction and started selling fish. Since there were fish in three baskets, she could not flee from there when she saw them coming.
When Alphonsia put one basket over her head, one of the municipality employees pulled it and it fell to the ground. The basket fell over her right arm and has caused bruises on her arm. She also fell on the ground and hurt her left arm. She begged them to leave behind the prawns that had cost her a lot of money, but they took that away too. She tried to stop them when they tried to mount it on their vehicle but in vain. Alphonsia says that she was just doing her work without causing any harm to anyone.
Alphonsia and her family live in a small house set up in 2 cents of land along the beach. Her husband Xavier is under complete rest following two surgeries. Her children Saju, Sajan, Princy and Princy’s husband are living in the house with them. There is no other earning member in the family.
There is an expense of around Rs 2000 when she has to take the fish to Attingal for selling. This includes the rate for ice and the travelling expense. Earlier, she used to pay back the money for the fish only after five or six days. Now she is required to pay the entire amount in advance. She buys fish by availing the money from daily chits. She has to pay Rs. 500 for chit each day.
Alphonsia leaves home early in the morning after tea and gets back only after eight in the night. She does not have meals in between. The grama panchayat members visited Alphonsia’s house and enquired about the matter. She has filed a complaint and has sought compensation. She can go back to selling fish only after the injury on her hand heals. It is unclear as to how she will meet the expenses until then.
Many are yet to pay the price of fish they bought. She said that they never fail to pay her back and that some even bring her money to the market. She also added that a few of them are failing to pay her back because they do not have any money with them.