Did you celebrate International Women’s Day? I do it every day. I see and hear about incidents of how women survived through sheer strength, grit and will power. We live in times when any special day is simply turned into a marketing gimmick or promo to push sales higher – so it is heart-warming to know that real time heroes are recognized and rewarded for their actions.
A Women’s Day heroine
She is a resident of Mathikere, Bangalore and drives her auto in the area where I live, so I was doubly excited. She who was awarded the prestigious ‘Veera Mahile Kittur Rani Chennamma Award‘ for her bravery. The award is named after the brave Kitturu Rani Chennamma.
Kitturu Rani Chennamma (October 23, 1778 – February 21, 1829) was the Queen of Kittur, India. She is best known for leading an armed rebellion against the British East India Company in 1824. The resistance ended with her arrest and she became a symbol of the movement for independence in India. (Wikipedia)
Here is what happened:
On September 28, 2012, a 25- year old man snatched a woman’s chain on a train and jumped off just before it could stop at Yeshwantpur ready to make off with the jewelry. 34-year old Ratna, who was nearby, heard the cries of train passengers and swung into action.
She took off after the guy. She chased him for about thirty minutes through lanes and streets. She followed him over a seven-foot wall in Mathikere (an area nearby) before she nabbed him, head-butted him when he tried to escape and handed him over to the police.
Ratna could have well been in a James Bond movie, considering her high voltage stunts in her quest to catch the thief before he made off with the loot!
“I ran behind him and caught hold of him after jumping over a high wall. He was too exhausted to run any further. I head-butted him once and when he saw no escape, he offered me half the jewellery and cash if I let him go,” smiled Ratna, as she recalled the incident.
After she received the award, Ratna said, “I am ecstatic after receiving the award today. Such recognition keeps you going even after many problems life throws at you every day”.
Ratna’s life is not easy. Her day begins at 3 am and ends only after 9 pm. She has an 18-year-old son who is physically disabled and prone to epileptic attacks. He needs constant care. She leaves her house at 3am and reaches Yeshwantpur station to pick up passengers.
She has to plan her schedule around her son’s needs and sleep patterns. She returns home at 9.30 am around the time her son wakes up. She bathes him, cooks and feeds him, catches up on household chores and gets back to work at 3 pm, finishing around 9 pm. Most of what she earns goes towards medical expenditure and she barely has savings at the end of the day – definitely not enough for her future and her son’s.
According to Ratna, her son is her greatest support system and says that he is the brave one, as he encourages her to go out and work. He assures her he will manage without her. If he didn’t do that, she would never be able to earn a living.
She has been felicitated by many organizations, including the auto rickshaw drivers’ union, and feels that women should help themselves first and only then will there be change.
We’re proud of Ratna. When she was asked how she felt about the award, she said, “I’ve lost today’s earnings as I had to attend the awards function!” She said, though it feels great to have an award on Women’s Day, it is nothing extra-ordinary. In her words, “These award functions are all the same – they give you a garland, talk about you, and then give you the award. The government should instead concentrate on doing something for poor people.”
A woman after my own heart!
Among others honored at the Awards function, 92-year old Chinnamma from Raichur, who is a midwife and has assisted in the delivery of 1,500 babies without charging a fee, was also conferred the Kittur Rani Chennamma Award to mark International Women’s Day.
My life is full of inspiring women who motivate me.
No.1 will always be my Mother.
To all the awesome women I know
Happy Women’s Day!