Rajni, 37, has learned things the hard way in life. A dhaba owner, she has to work till late in the night even though she has never found the city safe for women. From dealing with goons who refuse to pay to travelling back home in an auto-rickshaw at midnight, every day is a struggle.
“In a business like ours, we have to deal with all kinds of people. It is really difficult to deal with customers who often pass sarcastic comments and use abusive language,” says Rajni (she uses her first name), who runs the dhaba at Haiderpur in north-west Delhi. She says even though many measures have been taken for the security of women, neither the society nor circumstances have changed for them.
A resident of Ambedkar Nagar, also in north-west Delhi, Rajni got in to the business about one-and-a-half years ago after her husband’s death.
Remembering an incident, Rajni says, “Some customers refused to pay money. They claimed to have connections at high levels and abused my staff. No one came to help me. I was shocked. I was scared to even argue.”
But over time, Rajni understood that only ‘you can be your saviour’. “Now things are the other way round. I confront customers who refuse to pay money,” she says.
Difficulties don’t end here. Going back home is a herculean task, especially at night. “I use public transport. My home is not far but the internal lanes are isolated at night. I always take an employee along while going back home. I have to be very alert and breathe easy only when I reach home,” she says.
Rajni doesn’t rely on anyone other than people she knows closely. She never takes her children to the dhaba. “We are still insecure, vulnerable in Delhi. I will never ever bring my children, especially my daughters, here,” she says.