March 27: Poonam Maharashtrian Hindustani (Indian) runs a one-woman-one truck transport company. But it is not merely her name or her profession that are colourful. The lady has had an equally colourful past.

A good deal of her time in that past has been spent trying to assert her independence, reports The Indian Express, which wrote an article on this courageous woman.

Poonam had been born Hemlata Gaikwad in Pune city, Maharashtra. Her father constantly beat her mother up and even burnt Poonam’s secretly-acquired driving license. He wanted the women of his household to be docile and meek.

Rani Hindustani!
Rani Hindustani! [Illustration by Shinod AP]
Poonam rebelled at an early age, trying to be independent anyway she could, even if it meant skipping school and selling cucumbers. She acquired a driving license too, during her search for freedom.

This search led Poonam to marry a boy of her own choice. But marriage proved to be a leap from the frying pan to the fire for Poonam, with her in-laws throwing her out of their home one day. Already a mother by then, she couldn’t even seek shelter in her parents’ house as she had been disowned by them.

But Poonam had had the good sense of acquiring an autorickshaw license. She began to drive one and earn her livelihood from there; a little later she bought a truck with some funds from the government. Once she bought the truck, she set up a transport company of her own.

Poonam realised the value of education the hard way. She only studied upto the seventh-standard in school. In her struggling days, she found out how difficult it was for a person without an education to get a decent job. So she’s determined not to let her son make the same mistake. She has enrolled him into a reputed English-medium school.

That she lives life on her own terms is evident in her decision to change her own name. “When society wouldn’t look after me, I refused to bear the name they gave me,” Poonam says defiantly. And so the change to Poonam Maharashtrian Hindustani. She has named her son Krantiveeer Hindustani.

Poonam hopes that her decision to become the driver of a truck, regarded as a very manly profession, ought to set an example to other women and inspire them to storm male bastions. But it is her fierce independence and the desire to maintain it, that makes Poonam a figure worth emulating, above all. The trait makes her a Rani Hindustani (Indian Queen).