A woman in her early thirties with a scarf wrapped around her head maneuvering the busy city lanes on a moped loaded with four or five heavy cement sacks is a regular sight in Palakkad, but behind this daily strenuous effort is a strong desire to support her husband and eke out a decent living.
Palakkad resident Faseera, 30, has thus evolved as a role model for all women who have to fight against heavy odds regularly.
Faseera has been ferrying cement on her moped to construction sites for the last two-and-a-half years. "It happened quite accidentally," Faseera recounted.
Her husband Shefeeq owns a cement shop in Palakkad, but he could not afford to appoint a full-time salesperson because of financial difficulties. But Faseera was there to help her husband.
She stepped into the saleswoman's shoes comfortably. She took orders from customers, collected money, prepared receipts and ensured quick cement delivery. "It was a kind of office job," she said.
But the nature of her job transformed quickly with the customers preferring dealers who would provide onsite cement delivery. This meant that Faseera, the saleswoman, had to switch to a delivery woman.
"I was a bit nervous in the beginning,” said Faseera. “Many people stared at me when I took my moped and carried cement sacks to the work sites. But the transformation was easier than expected.”
But she endured many agonising moments before settling in her new job.
She would carry five sacks - each weighing 50kg - on the moped. The weight was too heavy for her. She lost her balance and fell on the road many times.
"Reloading the sacks back to the moped was the difficult task," she said.
She charges Rs 20 for the delivery of each sack. She undertakes 15 trips to the work sites in different parts of the city every day. “The job is challenging. It is more challenging because I am a woman and it requires tremendous physical effort. It is similar to the work of a coolie. But you do not have to withdraw thinking it is impossible. All you need is perseverance,” she said.
Many members in her extended family asked her to give up the job as it was not suited to a woman. But she overcame the pressure thanks to Shefeeq’s rock solid support.
“Life would have been really tough without Shefeeq’s support. He motivated me. He was always by my side when my own family pressured me to give up the job”.
Faseera's inspirational story transcended regional boundaries. Corporate houses took note of her efforts and extended her a huge helping hand.
Dalmiya Cements gave her wholesale dealership without charging the deposit. The husband and wife are sub-dealers of other prominent cement brands, such as Chettinad, ACC and Malabar Cements.
Shefeeq is all praise for Faseera. He said she stepped when he struggled to hire a labourer to run the shop. "She took a daring step at that time. She has the ability to confront any challenge," he said.
Their children Shahala Fathima and Shamik, who are in their sixth and fourth grades respectively, become excited when they hear their teachers and friends refer to their mother. “Every time we come with our mother to school, our friends, as well as teachers treat us as if we are celebrities. Earlier, we never understood the reason, but now we realize the greatness of our mother and are proud to be her kids,” they said.
Their youngest daughter, Shadhiya, is in her first grade. The five-member family lives at Pezhumkara in Palakkad district.
Faseera takes the accolades in her stride and she remains committed to her job.
“A woman can do anything. All she needs is the courage and perseverance to press on to her destination,” she said.