I needed to take a taxi and hence I called one.
As I slid the rear door open, and slipped into the back seat, I saw a sweet face smiling back at me. I was taken aback. It was the first time I saw a woman sitting in the drivers seat, and that too with a desi face.
I presumed, almost instantly, she must be an Indian, but on conversation she turned out to be a Pakistani from Lahore. She was a school teacher. Her husband who also drives a taxi, was a senior Vice President of a top bank in Pakistan, before they immigrated to Canada.
She found no hazard in working as a cab driver, except that she did not do late night shifts. According to her, there are a few women taxi drivers in Toronto, but she is the first one in Mississauga.
What was interesting was not their transition from white collar to a blue collar jobs. The real issue was ridicule she received from her own desi community.
Many of the families fake a family discord, with women shown as ‘single mothers’ are receiving welfare support from govt.
The same people she said, have the audacity to tell her: “Ghalat auratein taxi chalati hain”. ( The bad women drive taxi).
To which she replies: “Achi auratein hi mehnat ker ke rizq-e-halal kamati hain, buri auartein jhoot ki buniyad pe financial assistance leti hain”. ( Good women work hard to earn money, bad women get welfare through falsehood).
After hearing her words I did not have the guts to add a tip to her bill, for it might offend her. So I paid, only the amount that I was billed to.
We parted, with a hug and exchanging cell phone numbers. I told her, I will blog on her. Her eyes twinkled.
A couple of hours later, she called me up on my cellphone, saying “thank you”.
I salute this new friend on mine, for her honesty & bravery.
( Her identity has not been revealed on her request, to save her from further ridicule from the community, for speaking the truth).
Below is the picture of another lady taxi driver, Zahida Kazmi, the first and only ( I am surprised though) taxi driver in Pakistan, who began this work after her husband died, leaving her to be the sole gaurdian of her 6 children.