Till two days ago she was a faceless woman eking out a living as a railway coolie to sustain her family of ten, including an ailing father. But all that changed after a traveller at Betul railway station clicked her picture and posted it on… well, you guessed it… Facebook. Since it was put online this Wednesday, the picture has gone viral -- attracting thousands of "likes" and is being shared by, among others, an unofficial page of the Indian army.
The photo, which carries a brief description of 21-year-old Durga's life and struggle, was posted by Sandeep Naik, district facilitator, State Planning Commission who is posted in Narmadapuram division.
Durga failed in class 10 and started working as a coolie after her father met with an accident. She is presently pursuing her studies through a correspondence course. "After 10 years I will not be like this. I will get a good job after my studies," Durga, the sole breadwinner for her seven younger siblings, told Naik.
"Everyone helps and supports me at the station I have no problem. I am no less than a male coolie. I can carry loads of more than 70 kg," she is quoted as saying in Naik's Facebook page.
Durga works at the station for 12 hours, from 9 am in the morning and earns an average of Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 every day. Her struggle and courage has won the admiration of many online trawlers, including eminent Hindi poet Uday Prakash who expressed "support and solidarity" for the young lady.
Sehore deputy collector Kailash Wankede wrote a poem honouring Durga's courage and posted it on his wall.
According to Naik he'd gone to Betul on a private visit and when he was returning he was surprised to see a woman coolie at the station. "I asked her if I could take her photograph and she consented, saying that her name is Durga," Naik said.
In the last 48 hours there have been many exhortations by the online community urging others to share the female coolie's story. "Salute to this lady", "Real Durga", "Durga we are with you" are some of the comments on the photo. Naik claimed: "More than 10,000 people across the state and the country had shared and liked Durga's struggle on Facebook."