“Mardon wala kaam kaise karogi?”

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The answer is blowing in the wind (of freedom). That said I am not sure that a burqa is the safest attire for a school bus driver, especially under Mumbai road conditions.


As
soon as the class gets over at Antonio D’Souza High School on the
premises of Byculla’s Gloria Church, a dozen kids happily hop onto a
yellow-coloured mini bus parked outside the school gate. “Aunty chalo”
goes the collective cry from the chirpy bunch. Next, she starts the bus
and drops the kids to their doorsteps at neighbouring Nagpada, Clare
Road and Madanpura.

The kids “aunty” Khairunnissa Shaikh,
ferries everyday on her bus are too young to realize the importance of
the work this almost frail, bespectacled, burqa-clad woman performs. It
may not be uncommon to see women driving cars, even rickshaws and cabs
these days. But when was the last time you saw a burqa-clad Muslim woman
driving a bus, even if it is a school bus?

Nagpada resident
Shaikh (39) epitomizes a silent, liberating change blowing through
Mumbai’s Muslim streets. When she first decided to take up driving
school bus five years ago, Shaikh faced opposition, the biggest from her
mother-in-law. “Mardon wala kaam kaise karogi (How will you do a man’s
job?),” the annoyed mother-in-law asked. “I wanted to prove her and other
critics in the neighbourhood wrong,” says the woman even as her husband
Zahir looks on.

A decade ago, Zahir and Khairunnisa would walk
some students to school and make an earning. Then Zahir bought a mini
bus, but was soon diagnosed with serious heart ailment and declared
unfit to drive. “Starvation faced our family as Zahir stopped working.
There were two options to me. Either do something myself or live off
charity. I chose the former,” says the mother of two.  In her fights
against odds, she says, two persons helped her immensely. While
Nagpada-based advocate Rahman Kazi helped her financially to ensure that
her two sons continued their education (now the elder is studying
engineering while the younger is in an ITI course), Sunita Bhogle,
another bus driver at the same school, encouraged Shaikh to learn
driving.

When told that the Wahabism-influenced Saudi Arabia
has still not allowed women to drive, Shaikh says: “If women can fly
planes, why can’t she drive cars?”

She admits that many
strangers do get surprised when they see a burqa-clad woman driving a
bus. “Every adult woman in my family wears burqa. It is not a barrier if
you really want to do something meaningful,” explains the school
dropout. 
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2 Replies to ““Mardon wala kaam kaise karogi?””

  1. Rajendra Hariprashad, owner of Ena's driving school nyc in New York City, says poor study habits will often lead to a failed written test. He advises reading the state's road rules manual cover to cover and taking numerous practice tests. (Check your state's DMV.) Take time to learn the material — and wait until you are prepared before scheduling a test. Read more: about driving lessons

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