“I was born into a conservative and poor Muslim family. By the time I was 11, my parents started fighting every day. It took a toll on me. And soon, they got divorced.
So when my mom decided to remarry, it was a scandal. But she was someone who always went for what she wanted, fearlessly. A few months into the marriage, my mom had gone out with our brother when a group of men from our community surrounded her. They taunted her about her second marriage, and humiliated her character…
They even taunted my brother, and that affected her deeply. She was in such a bad state that later that night, she set herself on fire. Losing her was one of the hardest things I had to face. But we had to move on. Within a year, my father married both me and my sister off.
But my sister’s in-law’s bullied her for dowry, and when she was pregnant, they poisoned her. I was shattered… I had lost the two people I’d loved the most. I was in a dark place – but when I got pregnant and my son came into this world, I had no choice but to move on, for him.
Eventually, my husband and I too started having problems. After the birth of my third child, he refused to take care of us — all he wanted was to sleep with me. And when he was done with that, he said ‘talaq’ 3 times, and that was it – I had to take my kids and leave the house.
I was left alone on the street, with 3 mouths to feed. It was painful, but I had to buck up. So I set up a small biryani stall, but one day the BMC came and tore it down. My husband was a rickshaw driver, so when I had no option, I took all my savings and decided to drive a rickshaw.
I earned well, but a lot of people harassed me – they’d abuse me, put me down, and doubt me simply because I’m a woman. Other rickshaw drivers used to even purposely bang into me and stop me from taking fares. But I didn’t let it bother me ever.
It’s been a year since, and my income keeps the house running. I give my kids all that they ask for, on my own. I want to buy them a car and hope to do that soon. Even my passengers make me feel great, some clap for me, tip me well and even hug me!
I remember once, a man sat in my rickshaw, and didn’t realize I was a woman – he addressed me as ‘bhaiya’. But when he did, he said I was a ‘dabbang lady’. That’s what I know I am, and I want other women to know that they can be one too!
Women are capable of anything – they don’t have to live by the rules of others. I don’t want anyone to suffer like my mother or my sister did. So with every passenger I take, every compliment I get and every wishes I fulfill for my children — I know I’m not doing it just for myself, but for every woman out there, suffering in silence.”
Story Courtesy: Humans of Bombay