(Dedicated to all those women working in the BC farms)
Women come and work in
the wide spread BC farms.
Smiling and energetic they come
from the land of Punjab
educated, uneducated, married
unmarried young and old
all become slowly and slowly
hard-working farm labourers!
From the land of the five rivers
soon women arrive to Canada
they work in the farms every where.
Many of them are attracted to
Fraser Valley ornamented with
sharp rich colours of raspberry,
blue berry and strawberries.
Brides take off their gold and silk
come wearing t-shirts and jeans
with soft henna coloured palms
women come with holding babies
women with pre-schoolers
women with grandparents
women with old in-laws and
some with old parents
and aunts and uncles
women with large families.
Women work around the clock
their hands work non-stop
in the fields of raspberry
blueberry and strawberry.
Women pick mushrooms
cut broccoli and sprouts
marshy land is under their feet
under the rain of pesticide
their hands get blisters
their feet get swollen
their eyes become watery
they breathe on fumes
and their arms, necks and faces
get infected with killer pesticides.
Working the soil they become soil.
Women work day and night
their hands work non-stop.
Longer hours more than dawn to dusk
women work and get tired
come back with aching feet and hands
when are taken back to their homes
in a stuffed van of a contractor
where they can not even breathe.
Working women, labourers, they just work !
They come back home late at night
tired and then they start home-shift –
cooking for their hungry children
for their men, for their large families.
they wash everybody’s dirty dishes
and do everybody’s laundry.
Women take care of everybody
– crying hungry or sick children
Women look after everybody’s needs
remain unaware of their own needs
women go to bed vary late
after everybody’s gone to bed
and after making preparations
for everybody tomorrow’s work
and they have to get up very early
before the first ray of the sun rises
and get ready to go to the farms again.
Farmworker women are brave- Zindabad!
Surjeet Kalsey (1985)