Get off the train at Katni Junction in Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur and chances are you will run into 30-year-old Sandhya Marawi, lugging baggage of passengers. The woman works as a coolie (porter) at the station and on asking why she chose to take up the man’s job told us her story and the struggles.
Sandhya told that when on October 22 last year her husband passed away after prolonged illness she was faced with the challenge of raising her three children and looking after her mother-in-law.
The determined woman, who never wanted her children to survive on handouts, got in touch with some known people who told her how she could get a job of a porter at Kanti Junction, and that’s when she became the sole bread earner of the family.
In 2017, when Sandhya put on her red overalls of Indian railways porters and got her badge number 36, she became the first female ‘coolie’ among 45 males at Kanti station.
Everyday Sandhya, who resides in Kundum, covers a distance of 45 kilometres to reach work at Katni Junction.
After the arduous day of work, she reaches home in the evening to then feed her children at look after her mother-in-law.