Society

Single moms take to wheel to fuel dreams

(from left) Adhilakshmi, Bhuvaneshwari and Jayanthi are employed with ‘Auto Ranis’, a call auto service. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam   | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM

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Say hello to the thirty-something, single mom-turned-auto drivers in the city — S. Bhuvaneshwari, I. Adhilakshmi and S. Jayanthi.

These three women, employed with call auto service ‘Auto Ranis’, talk about how they broke into the autorickshaw scene under a similar set of circumstances — their marriages had failed, poverty crept in and their children had to be sent to school.

All of them endured a protracted struggle before they could make auto driving their business and then slowly grow to make enough money.

Bhuvaneshwari, for instance, survived a dozen suicide attempts and did odd jobs like selling idlis to support her family, before finally settling into her current profession in 2005.

“At 15, I playfully ventured into marriage to prove my friends wrong, and ruined my life. From attempting suicide by hanging to self-immolation, I tried everything to escape the harassment from my husband; I’m surprised I survived,” she recollects. In 2005, she separated from her husband, learnt to drive an autorickshaw from an acquaintance and soon got a licence. Today, she takes home about Rs. 700 a day.

“Today, I’m proud of my children. My son studies in a polytechnic college in the city and my daughter has become a judo champion,” says Bhuvaneshwari.

With a similar story, I. Adhilakshmi started driving an auto six years ago after she separated from her husband. “I got married at 16 and soon, my husband began harassing me. After we parted ways, my friend introduced me to auto driving and I’m happy I got into it,” she says. Her only complaint is that traffic personnel often don’t treat them well.

S. Jayanthi didn’t know the world outside her home till her husband committed suicide. She was left with three children, with her youngest son, Raghupathy, only a month-and-a-half old. She then took to driving an autorickshaw to provide them better lives. “Both my sons and my daughter are studying quite well. My son Boopathy is a judo champion. I see happiness through them,” she says.

Today, she greets her French clients ‘ Bonjour. Comment allez-vous?’ Apart from French, she can also speak Hindi and English. “I just picked up these languages in conversations with my passengers over time,” she says.

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Printable version | Aug 20, 2017 3:11:49 AM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chen-society/single-moms-take-to-wheel-to-fuel-dreams/article6733098.ece