Sitting patiently, I look fixedly at my feet without blinking, then immediately I realize ‘sitting patiently’ is not a part of my job description.
To be among the city’s few female auto-drivers, I cannot afford that kind of complacent luxury. I need to constantly be on the lookout got anxious pedestrians and confused faces.
A ‘female auto-driver’. I laugh at the very thought of this reality of mine. I don’t mean to complain, I love my job, I really do. My love for my job does not stem for the joy of transporting people but simply the way these people give me a second, sometimes even a third look when they notice oiled and neatly plaited long hair clad in a dirty brown coat/uniform.
To be honest, I’ve never gotten second looks. Not even when I was a shy, long-legged teenager. And now, whoever sits in my auto cannot take their eyes off me as they want to know what the story of my life is; how I ended up in a man’s job. Sometimes, they even double-check to see if I’m a eunuch.
My passengers all become my friends as I share intimate details of my life with these 10-minute strangers on how my parents are diagnosed with AIDS and hence I had to take up this job as it was easy for me to transport them to different clinics every other day.
One would think that I get humiliated and eve-teased by my male-counterparts, but on the contrary I get a lot of respect from them, even from the traffic policemen.
As a woman, we are programmed to smile a lot for everything. So how often do you see your auto-wallas smiling at you when you hand over your much-negotiated cash.
Talking about a man’s job, my husband is a man-servant for a rich family. When he comes back home at six and when I come back at 9.30 in the night, we exchange our daily activities; how he scrubbed, cooked, ironed and carried luggage and how I zoomed, swerved, sped and travelled across the city.