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Being a woman auto driver is a rarity. Being an honest and courteous; one even more so. But Bangalore will not be sorry to lose just such an auto driver since Venkatalakshmi is all set to be an advocate by the end of this month PA Venkatalakshmi has never once refused a passenger in the 13 years that she’s been an auto driver. She’s extremely courteous and charges only by the meter, say those who have taken a ride in her auto. But those are not the only reasons why this 37-year-old is different.
This is: Venkatalakshmi cleared her LLB exam this year and will be shrugging off her khaki uniform to don the black robe by the end of this month. Venkatalakshmi wants to become an advocate to champion the cause of womens rights. She herself was once a victim when five goons attacked her, tried to kidnap her and push her into the flesh trade. But, a brave Venkatalakshmi foiled their attack. She told: I was taken for granted by people because I did not know the required law. I had to run from pillar to post to speak to the then home minister to direct the police to register a case. The case went on for nine years. Unhappy with the special public prosecutors arguments, I requested the judge to allow me to argue my case. I did it for two-and-a half hours and eventually won the case, she said.
Voice of voiceless:
And now, she wants to do the same for the voiceless and the distressed. Though she started out as an all rounder in school and even won a bravery award for saving a child from a speeding bus, her law degree hasn’t come easy. In the last five years, Venkatalakshmi would leave home early in the morning, drop her daughter to school and then head to Babu Jagjivanram Law College in Basaveshwarnagar where she was pursuing the five-year LLB course. After classes, she would ferry passengers to earn her livelihood. I had to drive the auto every day as this was my only means of livelihood. But, I stayed focused. I would never ignore my studies even if it was a tough day at work. I would always complete the day’s portions before going to bed so that I would not be burdened during exams. So, I would keep all my textbooks and notes in the auto. I would memorise lines at traffic junctions, and study while waiting for customers. If I would be busy all day, I would join my daughter (studying in the ninth standard) and both of us would study together. Her hard work paid off when she passed the LLB exams recently. All Venkatalakshmi needs to do now is enrol at the Karnataka Bar Council. I think, I’ll needs 5,000 to 10,000 for my expenses, she says. That’s why she is still driving the auto and hopes to earn that amount before the end of the month. Her husband, currently a helper at a welding workshop, will step into her shoes. Before Venkatalakshmi became an autodriver, she had her own catering business. The auto rickshaw was meant to deliver the food. But when her rivals threatened the driver, she gave up the business. With her husband in Dubai, and her earnings inadequate, she decided to start driving the auto full time since 2001. As Venkatalakshmi was going through her rollercoaster life, she dropped out of the BA course and completed MA (History) in correspondence. Her dreams of becoming an IPS officer shattered by now, she decided to focus on becoming a lawyer to fight against the evils in society. However, the law college would not take into account the correspondence degree and she had to enroll for a five-year LLB course. But, nothing stopped her from achieving her dream. We wish her the very best in her new career.
Courtesy: Times of India
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