When you think of power loom workers, what comes to mind? A dingy work place and people working there living in penury. Somehow, poverty and power loom images go together.
But the brightest spark comes from some of the darkest places. Mohammad Naikavadi is retired now but for most part of his life, he has been a power loom worker at Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district, Naikvadi. The difference is that the tough situation brought out the poet in him in the most prolific way – he has published six books and he has written close to 3000 poems.
His poems span a wide range of subjects but all about life in the countryside and themes such as poverty, plight of workers, humanity, people’s lives, art, environment, pollution and nationalism.
He used to collect advertisement pamphlets on the back of which he used to write his poems; it is only now for the first time, he bought a register in which he now pens his poems. His book Vedna (Anguish), a collection of 65 poems, was published in 2014 by Sanmitra Prakashan, Kolhapur, and won a Karvir Sahitya Parishad Award in 2016. Naikavadi has also presented a few of his poems at Akhil Bharatiya Muslim Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, an annual conference on Marathi literature, in 2011 and, again, in 2016.
Naikvadi worked on the power looms for 30 years and his earnings grew from Rs.250/month in 1980s to Rs.5000 when he retired in 2017. He used to work 12 hours and all his poems have come alive in the continuous sound of looms moving up and down. Well, Naikvadi says that he simply cannot now compose any poem in silence.