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Women role models of toil and grit

30km daily with cart for ailing husband

 Sufiya Biwi with her vegetable cart at Santipur in Nadia.  Picture by Abhi Ghosh
 

Santipur: Sufiya Biwi pulls a cycle van 30km each day, selling vegetables and waging a battle to support her paralytic husband.

"I initially found it difficult to pedal the van in a sari. But I had to learn it to survive. I earn around Rs 5,000 per month," the 51-year-old said on Wednesday in Nadia's Santipur on the eve of International Women's Day.

The struggle begins each day at 4am when Sufiya, who says her two grown-up sons live separately and do not look after their parents, gets vegetables from Hooghly's Guptipara and then goes door to door in Santipur selling them. "She has become a role model for our daughters," said Parveen Biwi, a homemaker and neighbour.

Sufiya used to lug vegetables on her head until a year ago when some social workers pooled in money and donated her the cycle van. "I am pained to see her struggling to keep me alive," said Sufiya's husband Motiar Rehman, who was a weaver before suffering a cerebral attack in 2012. The couple have 13-year-old son, the youngest of their children, who stays with them. Sufiya said she had initially tried her hand at weaving but the earnings were not enough.

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