A mother might have many kids, but for her kids - there's only one mother who's as precious as life itself. Nobody can ever replace this darling human! My mom would often teach me, "If you want to survive in this world, you must live like a man and not as a woman." As much as it confused me while growing up, I soon realised what she meant - and that made all the difference. She made me believe that I was strong enough to be independent and land on my own feet. She's the one who held my hand as I learnt to walk as a child, and later, it was again this angel who helped me aim for the sky when the whole world knocked me down. My name is Gulesh Chauhan. I'm an Uber driver and this is my story.
I was born and brought up in Jaipur with my mom and dad. However, I lost my dad too soon and it was my mom who ended up facing all the major responsibilities - alone. At the age of 17, I was married into a family in Haryana where I gave birth to a son. After a few years, my husband was transferred to Delhi and we accompanied him. We were all living happily until one day, I was struck by an ill-fated incident. In 2003, my husband died in a car accident, leaving me and my son all alone.
My in-laws had refused to help me in any way. I felt miserable, depressed and extremely helpless. I had reached a point in my life where I felt completely lonely and was almost on a verge of breaking down. But then - my mom saved me! She said, "Now, you won't go anywhere. You will stay right here and fight each and every problem, no matter what may come. If not for yourself, you will do it for your son". She then decided to come and stay with us in Delhi. For 7 years, she took care of us and our home!
I loved cooking food and according to my mom and son, I did it pretty well. On her advice, I began catering and offering a tiffin service for some of the offices in the neighbourhood. In the beginning, I used to get only 4 orders per day but later, they shot up till 40. I had only begun to feel that my life was back on track - but alas! My destiny had other plans. My son and I met with a terrible road accident while heading somewhere in a scooty. Thankfully, my son recovered quite quickly but I was bedridden for 3 months.
Unfortunately, all our savings went down the drain and I gave up every hope to recover. My mom consistently tried to make me feel better but this time, even her words and support weren't enough to lift my spirits. Seeing in me such a state, my son decided to become my pillar of strength. He spent hours massaging my feet and hands with hot oil. And surprisingly - but slowly and steadily, I began feeling better and gained enough strength to start moving around.
However, it was too late for me to continue my tiffin service now. I felt sad for it was something I loved doing. But my mom refused to let me give up. She taught me that there was no point in cribbing or feeling hopeless anymore. She made me believe that it was never too late and that I was good enough to begin again, and to establish my identity in this world. And she was right. I had to choose a new career.
Luckily, I knew how to drive a car and held a driver's licence. So, initially, I thought of working as a driver for someone. But our society is such that people rarely trust woman drivers. We are only ridiculed for our driving skills. I was about to give up on this dream as well until one day, one of my friends gave me the contact number of some man named Anil Kumar who worked in the Army. He wanted to use his car as an Uber cab service, and was in search of a woman driver!
With a heavy heart and tonnes of expectations, I went to meet this man. Some of the scars from my accident were still visible on my face and hands, and I saw him looking at them. I couldn't help but tear up in front of him. He realised how important this job was for me. Without thinking twice, he made me sit in the driver's seat of his Uber while he retired in the back seat, and told me to start driving. My feet were shaking and for a few seconds, I couldn't believe this was happening. Suddenly, I lost all faith in myself. I told him, "Sorry bhaiya, but I don't think I'll be able to drive. If something happens to your car, you will end up in a loss."
But it's as if that bhaiya word acquired a special, binding force. He scolded me like a big brother and said, "Drive the car. Nothing wrong will happen. Worse comes to worst, you will break the car, so break it. I don't care. But what I do care is that I am not letting you go without seeing you try!" His words melted my heart and gave me the courage to push myself. And before I knew it, I was driving the car.
That day changed my entire life. Since then, I have been driving with utmost dedication and perseverance without looking back at my old life. And today, I'm one of the top Uber drivers of the country. But during this entire process, it's my mother who helped me in the best ways possible. If it wasn't for her constant support and endless faith in me, I don't know where I would have been. She's no more by my side but there's one thing I deeply regret - I wasn't by her side when she died.
My mom was a cancer patient and one day before her death, she begged me to call for an ambulance and take her back to Jaipur. Somehow, I managed to bring an ambulance home but drove her to Jaipur from Delhi myself. At night, I heard my mom say, "Beta, you must be very tired. Go and sleep for a while. Let my grandson and daughter-in-law stay with me till then." Oh, how I wish I wouldn't have listened to her! I went to take a nap in the other room. And that same night, my mom passed away.
For a long time, I remained upset with her. In the last few hours of her life, why didn't she let me sit by her side? Why didn't she call out my name when she began feeling ill again? Why did she tell me to go and sleep in the other room? In the past, if she gave even as little as take a loud sigh, I would wake up. But how come I didn't feel it my heart that my mom was going to leave me forever that night? Till date, nobody has ever been able to fill that void in my heart. There's nobody who asks me if I have eaten or not or tells me to take rest if I'm working too much. Why did you leave me? Why didn't you call for me before you left? Why... Ma? I miss you.
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