They reversed the wheels of misfortune for a life of dignity

They reversed the wheels of misfortune for a life of dignity

Touching tales of two women who earned for their dependents

Sowmya in her auto. dh photo

Sowmya’s dreams of higher education were dashed when her father asked her discontinue her studies after class 10.

“My family’s financial status was in dire straits and my father, Sadashivaiah, an autorickshaw driver, asked me to discontinue studies after SSLC. Yet I continued my studies, besides chipping in with my little earnings as a part-time auto driver to shore up the family income,” says Sowmya, now 21.

Sowmya began to learn the nuances of driving while accompanying her father during free time, when she was in fifth standard. Whenever her father took a break for lunch, she used to take the auto for small drives. It was only during SSLC she took it up seriously and began to ferry people near her home at Hebbal.

By the time she passed SSLC, she had Rs 1,200, enough to pay fees for I PU. The money  came from guests she ferried for a house warming ceremony. A friend of Sowmya’s father, who liked her determination, gave her Rs 500.

She completed her II PUC in Arts at Government Composite College in Hebbal scoring 78 per cent and BBM at Government Women’s College in Vijayanagar, securing 66 per cent. She is presently preparing for entrance exams for MBA at Karnataka State Open University (KSOU).

But that doesn’t mean she is paying less attention to her passion and occupation - driving the auto. In between trips, she pulls out books from her bag and pores over them. Her day starts early in the morning picking and dropping students to home tuitions and school. Sowmya’s success has earned her the nick name, ‘Auto Rani’.

The story of 62-year-old Gowramma is no less courageous. Gowramma was working at K R Mills, when circumstances forced her to attempt suicide by consuming poison. But, ‘fortunately’ she survived, only to be booked under Section 309 of IPC, as trying to end one’s life is an offence. However, she was spared punishment and she owes it to her advocate G V Narayan Rao.

When time came to start life afresh, she decided on vending tender coconuts. For 23 years since then, the footpath on Udayaravi Double Road in Kuvempunagar has turned her ‘karmabhoomi’.

Gowramma initially sold the coconuts at Rs three per piece. She travelled to villages in  autorickshaws to directly purchase coconuts from the farmers. Now, she depends on middlemen who deliver the coconuts to her makeshift shop.

“I bought a site for just Rs 4,000 at Janata Nagar then from the hard earned money, and also looked after my only son’s needs. After his marriage, things took a turn for the worse in the family. I had to to step out of the house that I myself had built brick by brick,” says Gowramma in a choked voice. Her makeshift shop turns home at night and she has to take bath with water from the tap at the road median in the dark hours when the the city sleeps.  

Gowramma and Sowmya were felicitated for being achievers, as part of International Women’s Day at Government Maharani’s College for Arts and Science on Tuesday.