Thirty-seven-year-old S Mahalakshmi began learning how to make artefacts out of seashells by chance. She was visiting her mother in Chromepet three years ago when ‘Abraham sir,’ as she calls him, made a visit. He taught and trained women in this skill to make them financially independent, and give them a sense of self worth.
“I took it up because I was excited to learn something new,” says Mahalakshmi. “I didn’t know I would fall in love with it and that it would become such an integral part of my life. I look forward to the time I spend making these lovely decorative pieces that can adorn people’s homes.”Mahalakshmi has displayed her work at several exhibitions held in Chennai. She says it gives her immense pleasure to be able to contribute to the household expenses and share the burden of raising two children in these times of inflation.
“I earn about `5,000-`10,000 a month,” she says proudly. “My husband is a mechanic and a large chunk of whatever he earns goes towards our daughters’ education because we didn’t want them to suffer like us later on. We wanted to give them the best of everything. With my additional income, it has really eased the burden on my husband because it has elevated our lives so much.”
Mahalakshmi’s husband and children are her biggest fan club. They constantly motivate her to find new designs to work and explore. As someone who does not have money to present as gifts at weddings and social gatherings, her work provides a unique and wonderful gift. “People get so many bouquets at weddings, but it is my seashell flowers that they hold on to throughout and that is very special,” she says.
Recounting an incident where her children came home one day wondering what they would give their teachers on Teacher’s Day, she put her mind to work immediately. “My children go to a school which is also attended by a lot of wealthy kids. They all had planned out elaborate gifts for their teachers and my children were fretting over what to give them. I just told them to give me three days and I toiled to give all the teachers flowers made of seashells......Read more
Source web page: The hindu