Majnu Devi became the first woman in the entire North Western Railway region when she took up the job of a ‘coolie’ (porter) after she started working at the Jaipur Railway Station in 2013.
Majnu Devi stands tall in her fraternity, being the first woman porter in a profession that is considered a male bastion. She is the only in her family with three children.
After losing her husband for a prolonged illness 10 years ago, she approached the railway authorities to transfer the licence and badge of her deceased husband to her name.
Following her husband’s demise, there were psychological hurdles and family disputes which she overcame with the help of her mother and her children.
Devi got the licence and the porter no. 15 of her deceased husband Mahadev after being encouraged by her mother Mohini and took to the extremely tough task of hauling luggage of passengers at the Jaipur Railway Station.
The mother of three was initially warned by the railway authorities of the demanding task in which she was getting into. But she insisted and was eventually given the badge number, Devi said.
Being a porter is physically demanding, but with three teenagers to take care of, Manju Devi takes on every day with great determination. Initially, she had to depend on passengers and fellow porters to locate coaches and seats as she could not understand what numbers were written on the platform or the train coaches.
“I told the authorities about my difficulties. They trained me for six months and gradually I picked up,” she said.
Devi was among 112 women who were felicitate by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, alongside former beauty queens – Aishwarya Rai and Nicole Faria, missile woman Tessy Thomas, mountaineer Bachendri Pal, Anshu Jamsenpa and private detective Rajani Pandi.
“I weighed 30 kgs and the passengers’ luggage was also 30 kgs but it was nowhere to the burden of feeding three children,” Devi said.
She was one of the faces among a gathering of 90 women achievers from different backgrounds at Rashtrapati Bhavan on January 20, this year and President Ram Nath Kovind had stated that he got “emotional” on hearing her story.