Overcoming her inhibitions and fears to financially support her family, Baljinder Kaur (35) of Phase 11 in SAS Nagar took to autorickshaw driving last month, becoming the only female three-wheeler driver in the city.
“Guzare ke liye thoda baahut kama leti hoon” (I earn enough to make both ends meet), said Baljinder. She earns Rs 250-300 everyday.
She is the sole breadwinner of the family comprising her elderly parents and her eight-year-old son.
“Initially, I was little scared but now I feel confident. I prefer not to drive in the night,” says Baljinder, who starts driving at 8:30am, takes a lunch break and resumes in the evening for about an hour.
Baljinder, who has separated from her husband, takes care of her father who is physically challenged.
“My brother, who died in 2007, owned the three-wheeler. After his death, we had given the three-wheeler on rent but we were making losses. Therefore, I took to driving. I knew how to drive a scooter. No one was ready to teach me how to drive an auto-rickshaw so I had to learn it myself,” Baljinder further says.
Baljinder says she has to deal with people staring at her. She prefers working in Phase 11. “I still have to learn about the routes but passengers help me at times,” says Baljinder, who opts for female customers or elderly couples.
“People laugh at me and some even try to dissuade me but I have no other option. This is my work which makes me independent. I want my son to study and get a government job,” she says.
For Baljinder, who still is struggling to overcome her fears, her family is a constant support. “My son believes in me and instills confidence in me and this is how I am able to cope with this,” she says smilingly.