Kerala

Cracked hands do not puncture her tireless spirit

Tough as nails: Ayesha at her workshop.

Tough as nails: Ayesha at her workshop.   | Photo Credit: SAKEER HUSSAIN

Ayesha, widely known as Puncture Thatha, has been repairing tyres for 22 years

When the world celebrates International Women’s Day on Sunday, a woman at Manjeri salutes her gender by proudly reasserting that work is worship, no matter how hard or soft.

Illikkal Ayesha, 45, who has dedicated herself to repairing of flat tyres over the last two decades, has become a synonym for automobile puncture work. She is widely known as Puncture Thatha (meaning a woman who dabbles in puncture work). Her shop at Kozhikkottuparamba, near Vellila, is also named Puncture Thatha.

Ayesha is the lone woman who has taken up tyre repairs as a profession in this part of the land. And she takes pride in being called Puncture Thatha. “I took up this job 22 years ago because I had no other means to support my family, particularly my father. Now I continue in this field because this is the only job I know,” she said.

Her hands looked withered with uncountable cracks developed out of long years of hard labour. Ayesha began her job by repairing the flat tyres of bikes and scooters. Now, she handles the tyres of not only cars and jeeps, but also buses, trucks and earth movers.

“The biggest tyres I repaired are those of a JCB,” she said. While she is adept at removing the flat wheels of bikes, cars and jeeps, she needs the support of men for removing the wheels of buses and lorries. “Handling the tyres of vehicles is no issue. But survival really matters now with the economic slump having badly hit all areas, including tyre repairing,” said Ms. Ayesha.

Husband’s shop

Over five years ago, Ayesha got married to Kunhahamed Pallipparamban, who now suffers from renal failure. The couple have no children. When she manages her husband’s tyre shop at Manjeri, her own Puncture Thatha shop at Kozhikkottuparamba remains closed. But her friends and neighbours keep calling her, asking her to reopen the tyre shop.

“The concern and care of people is the biggest asset I have. My shop was named by my artist friend Upasana Narayanankutty, who wrote my number and name as Puncture Thatha on the shop's shutter. So it became a hit, and people began calling me so,” she said.

She lives in a rented house with her ailing husband. “I have no house to call mine. I want to share my plight with our Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, whom I am sure can help me. I am looking for an opportunity to meet Pinarayi Sir,” she said.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 11:18:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/cracked-hands-do-not-puncture-her-tireless-spirit/article31011729.ece

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