BEHENJI – STATION CHALOGEE!!
As soon as the alarm rings, each one is in a hurry to go somewhere. This ‘somewhere ‘ may include ‘station’, ‘temple’, ‘school’, ‘morning walks’ etc. The prime feature of every office goer or outstation college students is looking out for a rickshaw or a cab to leave them till the station. The first two trials is always a rejection and many a times ‘Bhaiyaji, station chalogeh’ brings back a reply as ‘Nahi, waha janeka mood nahi banta.’ This in fact makes local travellers get annoyed day in and day out.
But what if one comes to know that the very first call is heard to, taken into consideration and one is made feel like each passenger is important? It would lead to the start of a satisfying and most comfortable morning of each and every passenger. The address statement that will be needed to change is ‘BEHENJI, STATION CHALOGEE!!’ One may even wonder and hesitate to how the ‘Bhaiyaji’ statement can also have a distinguished address to ‘Behenji’.
Seeing a ‘Rickshawali’ around on streets brings up surprised expressions on each face and may even imagine that may be he or she is dreaming. But well this unseen dream is into a live example known as ‘Anita Kudtarkar’- who has left a trademark in the profession of becoming a rickshaw driver.
One of these days, when the back bent down to request , the statement seemed to change into ‘Behenji- station chalogee? And the immediate answer to it was ‘yes’. The very first goodwill that each passenger uttered was ‘Chalo Aaj Mera Din Accha Jayega.’
A descent ‘chashma’, ‘Salwar kameez’ taking up the skill most enthusiastically to feed her family had started by her about 10 years back. The kind ‘Haa’ to any request of ‘Chalogee’ is all that makes her a unique’ identity’ and ‘stand out’ in this profession. A face to face conversation with ‘Mrs Anita’ helped in knowing the roots of such a trademark in a gender biased profession.
The very first entry of a female rickshaw driver like her was rejected by each male driver. ‘Aurat jaat par dabaa hai tu’, ‘Aurat hokar kya chaar seat marad ko bhi station chodti hai’were the unbearable comments passed on to her by ‘rickshaw walas’. Ignorance and strong will helped her decision to remain firm and move forward with her three wheeler vehicle.
These comments itself raise up questions in relation to gender biases still existing in such professions. Is women only meant to be a person who can help the family by working in other people’s houses, recipe business and no other profession? If the question regarding the ‘shame’ of a woman is raised up eith relation to not being selective of her paseengers, then the male rickshawalas should prefer not to take lady passengers as well! This won’t be agreed by any rickshaw wala due to the stereotype thinking even in today’s generation.
As the conversation went on, different such reasons were expressed freely by her. The RTO was the one who supported her among the union of ‘rickshaw walas’. The questions raised by the RTO were answered with simplicity and truth. ‘Mujeh jo rashta maloom hai, waha pe meh jaane ke liye tayaar hoo’. This convincing statement helped her get a confirmation certificate to drive on streets with a ‘No Fear’ factor. Even after this, several attempts of discouraging her were taken up. Comments like ‘Tapori ke jaise kya kar rahi hey’ and the answer to this has always been ‘Kya, meh tapori hoot oh hoo, lekin imandaari se kama rahi hoo’ this has zipped off the negative towards her.
The ‘Nagar Palika’ then after trained 50 women as additional rickshaw- walis , but after the training none seem to become rickshaw drivers. When Mrs Anita was asked to comment, this was the statement given out by her, ‘ Aaj ki Naari ab tak jaagi nahi hai, areh yeh profession mai dang se jeeneh ke liye sida sada paise kama sakte hai, lekin hum sab sochte hai log kya kehenge? Log hamarah pet nahi barteh hai, tumaraha mehant he tumeh aageh badah payega.’ This statement highlights her wish to see more rickshaw walis in and around.
Today, due to her unique passion and struggle, she is well known not by her name but a ‘RICKSHAW WALI’. This in fact can justify the saying –‘KHUD KI PEHCHAN’. Taking up such an inspiration as a great example, one can even spot out two more rickshaw walis in Bandra itself.
So are you ready to accept that there will soon be a time when you will also have the privilege to say-‘ BEHENJI- station chalogee’