The Mysuru Railway Station has the singular distinction of having a the only woman porter in the entire South Western Railway zone
She personifies grit and determination and with a bit of luck she not only managed to succeed but also became well-known. Meet Rizwana Banu, the only woman porter in South Western Railway Zone who works at Mysuru railway station.
When people engage her to carry their luggage, many of them also take selfies with this 39-year-old woman and enquire about her. They also tip her liberally.
Bearing the licence number 16, Banu had to make concerted efforts to break the male domination of porters at the station. Her journey was indeed hard when she tried to make her way into the station after her husband who was also a porter passed away.
Banu said she had no choice but to become a porter. When her husband died 12 years ago, she had to support four young children, including two girls. Initially, the authorities were sceptical about her ability to work but she insisted and finally they were convinced and a year later she got the licence.
Even today she reaches the station before 5 a.m. to start her work. Besides the authorities, even the public in the beginning were not sure if she could carry the weight of the luggage. All that has changed over a period of time as now she is a much sought after porter. She revealed that generally people don’t haggle with her and on the contrary pay her extra.
All this hard work has paid dividends as she has managed to not just support her family but also get three of her children married off.
While Banu has received support from the public, she has also found the male porters at the station very helpful. When they find that her luggage is heavy, they help her and for this she shares the earnings with them.
Following her appearance in the popular television show the Indian Idol show last year, Banu became a public figure and now many people recognise her instantly.