Determined to find out more, I set out to meet this woman.And what a saga of determination and optimism her life turned out to be.The work was arduous, without doubt, but now as the sole earning member of her family she had little choice but to carry on with all the courage she could muster.Born and brought up in Rajnandgaon, the pleasant looking and always smiling Parasai Sahu, is happy that she was able to give up her job as a sweeper and become a porter at the Raipur Railway Station.“Sometimes they feel sorry for us and prefer a male porter to carry their luggage; sometimes they are worried that by making a woman carry their luggage they would be committing a sin. She adds, “What they don’t understand is that they are helping us when they make us work and that we need this work to survive.” Sahu recalls her first encounter with a passenger. I earned Rs 30 on that occasion and I am grateful to that family to this day.” For now, Maanbai and Parasai are the only women porters at the Raipur station.They are daily wage earners, earning Rs 100 each day on an average.
The women were forced to report this to the station master who fortunately stood by them.But neither Maanbai nor Parasai regret being porters. Then I can continue to work with confidence, knowing that my job is permanent.” First it was Maanbai who inspired Parasai. “Today the women in my village ask me if they can also apply for such a job,” she smiles.Explains Parasai with great enthusiasm, “We are village women. s the train slowly chugged into Chhattisgarh’s Raipur station, my eyes beheld a scene I had never imagined to find in a state that is considered one of India’s least developed.A sari-clad porter was hurtling down the station with bags on her head.