TN 07 A 5347. You won’t find this auto speeding along city roads. It remains stationed on Adikesavulu Street in Chintadripet.
The vehicle, abandoned about two years ago, is now home to R. Kokila and her three children. The family of four has nowhere else to go but Kokila is prepared to vacate the autorickshaw whenever its owner returns to reclaim it.
“I was born and raised on this street. After marriage, I continued to live here with my husband and our children. Nearly a year and a half ago, he left me. Since then, the children and I have been living in the auto,” says Kokila.
The auto looks like a laundry bag with clothes piled in the front. There is a make-shift kitchen just outside the auto. At night, Kokila sleeps with her three-month-old son in the back seat, while the older children — Prabhu (3) and Sana (one-and-a-half) — lie by the road with their grandmother Usha.
Kokila never went to school. She fell in love with Raghu, a coolie, when she was13 and he was 23, and married him subsequently. Ever since he has left, Kokila ekes out a living doing odd jobs.
“I earn just about Rs. 20 a day and have to depend on my mother,” she says. Usha sells flowers and manages to earn about Rs. 150 everyday.
Life is a bleak uncertainty for the family but 30-something Kokila is determined to make it. She wishes to educate her children and help them succeed in life.
“I’m illiterate but I want my children to go to school. I’ll try to help them as best as I can,” she says.