The widow is forced to carry luggage for a living: Maya, the only female porter in Ludhiana, carries bags for a few rupees to pay for her son, 12
- Punjab’s first female railway porter has to work after losing her husband
- Maya, 40, says she has to work to educate her son
Carrying heavy luggage through the rush hour traffic for eight hours a day was never Maya Devi’s idea of a career. However, after her husband’s sudden and tragic death, she had no choice.
Maya, 40, lost her husband, Ram Kumar, a licensed railway porter at Ludhiana train station, in April this year. Her world has never been the same since then.
“Maybe this is my destiny that I have to start over where my husband Ram Kumar left off,” she said stoically.
Maya, 40, is the only female doorman in her town
Heavy physical work like this is not what Maya had in mind
Porters must pass rigorous physical tests before being licensed
Maya was married to Ram Kumar 13 years ago in the village of Redau in the Sonepat district of Haryana, and they have lived in a house Ram Kumar owned near the Jagraon Bridge ever since. The couple has a son, Guarav, who is 12 years old.
“In March 2012, the accident struck our family. My husband got sick and died in April.
“The initial shock of my husband’s death destroyed my world.
“But then I gathered myself and decided to move on with life, not for myself but for my son for whom my husband had cherished many dreams,” she said.
Maya wants her son to study hard and achieve great things. If her son can build a future for himself through hard physical work and long days on the crowded platforms of Ludhiana, then all the suffering of the past six months will not have been in vain.
Maya is pictured here with one of her many hundreds of customers at the station
Some women apply for jobs on the station platform, but Maya is the only one who accepted a job at Ludhiana
Maya is determined to keep working to educate her son
“I have no idea what fate has in store for me, but if I can educate my son and get him on his feet, I will have the satisfaction of being a good mother and of having fulfilled my husband’s wishes too.” ,’ she said.
Although Maya didn’t start working as a doorman until November, all the initial fears she had of approaching passengers getting off trains have now turned into a visible sense of confidence.
However, there is no doubt that the sight of a woman carrying heavy luggage remains a stranger to ordinary passengers.
Being a luggage carrier is not an easy job. it requires a vigorous physical test to get an official license.
Senior commercial manager of the division MM Singh said there was no gender bias in recruiting women as porters.
For some reason, as a rule, women don’t come forward for jobs.
“During fitness tests conducted a few months ago at several major train stations to recruit licensed porters, quite a few women had appeared and some of them had passed the fitness test. But none of them showed up at the time of the final recruitment,” he said.
Mr Singh said there was no practice of giving the jobs to relatives after the death of a porter on compassionate grounds.
Maya would have had to pass the same tests and recruitment procedures as everyone else.
“The railway officials must have done the same to recruit Maya instead of her husband,” added Mr Singh.