Thiruvananthapuram: The arrest of two Muslim women in Kerala’s Kannur by the NIA for propagating Islamic State ideology on social media had put the community under a cloud. However, a burqa-clad, highly-religious woman in the same district has become a role model for women and youngsters for her entrepreneurial spirit and philanthropic activities.
Rejimol, 46, is known as “Thatha”, or elder sister, by everyone in and around her hometown. She is not a teacher, doctor, advocate, or social worker, but exemplifies courage, determination, and a kind heart while being owner – and worker – of a private bus service.
She, and her husband Mohammed, bought a bus for plying in Kannur, and while several people joined as attendants, all used to leave after serving for one or two months. This led to the determined Rejimol taking up the job by herself, while her husband became the driver and her son, Ajuwad who has completed his plus 2, the conductor for collecting money.
Interestingly, the bus is still named Sree Sundareswara, after a Hindu god, as under the previous owner, and she did not change the name since the past 25 years.
In Kerala, private buses have an attendant who rings the bell after people enter and exit at their respective stops. It has been a male bastion, as the job also involves cleaning the bus after the daily trips as well as changing tyres as and when they puncture, as also guiding the driver while overtaking a vehicle or when negotiating a curve.
All these jobs are now taken up solely by Rejimol, who has become a role model for women and youngsters alike by the determination, grit, and love for the job that she had shown.
“This is a job like any other job and when people first found a burqa-clad woman entering a male bastion, they were surprised. Some were laughing and I asked them whether they were insulting me, they said no and that they were just surprised and were full of respect and admiration for me. This made me carry on and I now have the courage and strength to face the society and life during any upside or downside,” Rejimol told IANS.
She said that life has been tough during Covid-19 times but in all, her life has been good and she used to save money for her pilgrimages to Makkah, and has done the Haj as also the Umra.
She said that daily she saves a portion of her income to be distributed to orphanages, adding that she was also supporting two orphanages. Rejimol also said that she intervenes in any social issue at her neighbourhood and also helps people as much as she can.
She said that she has allowed her daughter to study as much she can before giving her off in marriage.
“Education is important and marriage can come after that,” she maintains.
Her stand is in contrast to the prevailing situation in certain villages of Kerala where Muslim girls are being married off at an early age. However, signs of changes are slowly being seen in the community with more and more Muslim girls studying hard and coming up in academics and entering prestigious institutions like AIIMS, IITs and even qualifying for Civil services. However, there is still a trend of marrying off the girls at a tender age and Rejimol is strongly opposed to this.
Rejimol’s daughter, Ajinas A.M. is a PhD scholar doing her research in political science at the prestigious Karyavattam Campus of Kerala University. She did her Masters in political science from Central University of Puducherry.
The highly-determined woman entrepreneur maintains: “Life is woven around love and without love and mutual help, nobody can survive and my policy is to love everyone and support everyone in whatever means we can. Women must be hard-working and not sit idle at home but chip in for the support of the family.” -IANS