" The incident led to major protests against the Punjab government."
Even when she toiled as a casual labourer in a private dry fruit company at Thuthiyoor near her home, M.K. Lini always had her mind somewhere else.
The 23-year-old dreamt of the day when she would be able to don the khaki and move around nimble footed among passengers, issuing tickets on a KSRTC bus.
A week ago, she bagged her favourite job of bus conductor; albeit in a private bus. But that hasn’t doused her excitement a wee bit.
Ms. Lini was among the first of a 92-member Kudumbasree batch formally inducted into service as conductors in private buses.
“The first day I boarded the bus for training, the job seemed almost impossible. I felt I was never going to replicate the same agility and postures of male conductors,” said Ms. Lini.
But a week into her training, that concern proved misplaced. She can now handle her job with dexterity, issuing tickets and maintaining communication with the driver by using the bell.
Ms. Lini was full of praise for the wholesome support from passengers, fellow male conductors who trained her on the job for a week and the bus owner who was considerate and non-discriminative about the wages.
“I keep getting a lot of care and support from passengers, both men and women. They keep on telling me how comfortable and reassured they were with the presence of a woman conductor,” said Ms. Lini from Kakkanad bus stand during a brief halt of the bus there between morning trips. She is deployed in a bus on the Kakkanad-Ernakulam route.
Ms. Lini has to report 30 minutes ahead of the start of the first trip from Kakkanad at 7 a.m. and sign off at 6.30 p.m., just before the last trip, since staying back for it would make it too late.