“I want to change people’s attitude towards women. There are different types of people in our society. Some people stare at me awkwardly while some praise and encourage me. I want to show that women are strong and can face challenges.” – Tabassum Bano, First female auto rickshaw driver of Allahabad
Tabassum, who once had decided to end her life, moved to the city of Allahabad from a village in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh in 2005 – with a six month old son and a sum of rupees two. Her in-laws had thrown them out of the house one day after harassing and torturing her for dowry for a long time. Tired and frustrated, Tabassum had decided to end her life, but her child gave her the reason to put on a brave face and fight.
She divorced her husband and reached the city by foot after walking for 50 km. Her son started crying because of hunger during the journey. The helpless mother did not know where to go in that new city. This was when an old man saw her and took her to Sister Sheeba Jones.
Sister Jones taught Tabassum how to ride a scooty and four-wheelers, and that was the start of the better life she had planned to build. Today, she lives with her son in a rented room at Teliarganj colony in Allahabad. She is currently supporting a family of six people including her sister and her three children, her brother’s daughter, and her old mother. Her son studies in an English medium school now. She even started studying and cleared Class 10 exams.