In Photos: A Single Woman Navigates Haryana, the Land of Paradoxes

Haryana’s skewed child sex ratio, deeply feudal and patriarchal mindset, crimes against women and girls, and the infamous khap panchayats form the stereotypes of the region. But, with women sportspersons nurturing considerable fame, Haryana is turning into a land of paradoxes. On one side are the structures of inequality transcending gender and caste, and on the other, women who are thriving. They are choosing to study, work and live life on their own terms.

Photographer Kashish Badar portrays these paradoxes for Quint Lens in essaying the story of Kavita Yadav, a 40-year-old resident of Manethi village in Rewari, Haryana.

Kavita Yadav stands in her farm, assessing what fodder to collect for the day. (Photo: Kashish Badar)

Kavita, like many other women in her village, performs multiple roles. Feeding the buffalo, milking her, and cleaning the house comprise Kavita’s mornings. After freshening up, she makes breakfast for herself and her father-in-law. Taking care of the farm is an integral part of Kavita’s life.

The only sister of three brothers, Kavita was married when she was 18. Her husband is a CRPF personnel, and is away from home for most part of the year. Her elder son is in the army, while the younger one is studying at the University of Delhi. Kavita has her 85-year-old father-in-law for company.

Kavita working on her farm. (Photo: Kashish Badar) 

Her father-in-law has always been kind and has treated her well. On the other hand, her mother-in-law was a very strict woman.

KavitaShe wouldn’t let me go out with my husband when we were young. There were many times when my husband wanted to take me along to the city he was posted in, but my mother-in-law always refused.

She has spent all her life in the village, and now feels uncomfortable at the thought of leaving it.

A glimpse into Kavita’s modest kitchen. (Photo: Kashish Badar)

Kavita is happy and satisfied in her village now. She is free to do the work she likes. She can go out whenever she wants, meet neighbours and enjoy her life. Her husband and children love and respect her. "Though I feel a little lonely at times, but my husband will soon retire from his job, and we will be together then”, she says.

Kavita cleans outside her house in Rewari, a chore set in a daily routine she has grown comfortable with. (Photo: Kashish Badar)

Twice or thrice a week, she makes a round to her khet (farm), roughly two kilometre away from her house, to get fodder for her buffalo and take care of the crops. She walks on her way and back from the farm, carrying 30-35 kg of fodder on her way back.

Kavita Yadav carries 30-35 kg of fodder on her back from her farm alone. (Photo: Kashish Badar)
Kavita tending to her farm, picking out weeds and fodder for her buffalo. (Photo: Kashish Badar)

Bathing the buffalo is her favourite part of the day. “She needs to be taken care of like a baby. From her food to her hygiene, everything is important.” The buffalo is one of the main sources of her income. “I spend my earnings in ways I want to. I save some and spend some. When my mother-in-law was alive, I wasn’t given a penny.”

Taking care of the buffalo is Kavita’s favourite part of the day. (Photo: Kashish Badar)
The buffalo is one of the main sources of income for Kavita who takes care of him “like a baby”. (Photo: Kashish Badar)

Time alone has given Kavita the chance to think for herself and about herself in a place not always kind or fair to women. Though she has made a happy, comfortable life for herself, if given a chance, would she change anything?

A pensive Kavita mops her house. (Photo: Kashish Badar)

KavitaI regret not studying when I had the opportunity. It’s because I was not educated that people oppressed me. I did not have a say in any decisions. If I had a daughter, I would have made her study and work outside the house. I would have made sure she doesn’t get entangled in a similar life.

(Quint Lens is a selection of the most vivid imagery created by our in-house pool of talent, and from across the web, created and curated with an eye on for that Quintessential twist. In this section, you can find some of the most refreshing camera and mobile photography documenting current news events, the history and everyday culture of India and the world, heartbreaking stories that can only be conveyed through pictures, celebrations and revolutions; basically, anything that simply needs to be CliQed!)