Sarika and Eknath Shimpi with their youngest son Karthik in the northern Maharashtra village of Bedukpada. Sole earners for a family of 12, the couple said they cannot provide a healthy diet for their children even though they want to

By Shreya Raman

Palghar (Maharashtra): Short, medium-built and outspoken, Sarika Shimpi beamed with pride as she recalled how her youngest son and daughter gave speeches at the village school here in this northern Maharashtra district for the 26 January Republic Day function in 2024 .

 “They spoke so clearly and confidently in front of teachers, other students and people from the village,” Sarika, 38. “I was happy.”

Sarika and her 41-year-old husband Eknath Shimpi, an itinerant mason, have three children, a 14-year-old son who is in a hostel 13 km away in the town and taluka headquarters of Mokhada for his high-school education, a seven-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son.

The younger son and daughter live with them in Bedukpada, a village of around 300 people, living in houses with traditional tiled roofs. Most in the village rely on agriculture during monsoon and migrate to nearby towns after the kharif or autumn harvest.

“The children in your cities are smart but the children in villages tend to be a little bit dull,” said Sarika. “I don’t want that for my children. I want them to study a lot and grow up to be intelligent, successful people. So, I take time out to sit with them after school to teach them.”

In addition to being attentive towards their children’s education, the couple also try their best to give them nutritious food. She said a nutritious meal was important for a child’s mind and body.

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