Dayavathi Ullal was among the hundreds of women who came to the harbour at Bunder, a confluence of two rivers and the Arabian Sea, as fresh stocks of marine fish started to arrive on Wednesday after a lull of about two months.
What marked the 55-year-old apart in the melee was her resilience. Widowed early in life, she has supported her family single-handedly on the fishing trade for four decades.
It was as a girl of 12 that she first came to Bunder and came to be part of the fishing trade. She was barely out of her teens when she married Vikas from Ullal, who regularly went with trawl boats that operate in the deep sea. But one day, 30 years ago, the boat brought back her husband dead. “He had a heart attack in the middle of the sea,” she recalls.
Her son Jagjivan was about three then, while her daughter was only eight months old. Ms. Ullal had little time to grieve as she had to feed and educate them. She was back into the fishing trade in no time.
With the income from fish trade, she managed to educate her children up to PUC. Ms. Ullal clocks 13 hours at work on almost every day when there is fishing activity. “I usually reach the harbour by 7.30 a.m. and later sell fish in the market. I reach home at 8.30 p.m.,” she said.
On Wednesday morning, she was among the first batch of fisherwomen to be there at Bunder. For hundreds of women who engage in fish trade in the city, Bunder is the key source of fish and livelihood.
While Ms. Ullal’s son is now a gym instructor, her daughter is married with two children. The association of Ms. Ullal with the Arabian Sea is set to continue at least for one more generation. For, her son-in-law too fishes in the deep sea and they all stay in the same house.