“On an average, I walk at least for eight kilometres each day delivering letters door-to-door. On some days, like today, we have more than 70 letters to deliver, which means I go and knock on all those doors. Some apartments have no lift, and we have to walk up as well. It does get tiring,” 60-year-old Indrawati says.
Indrawati is a post ‘woman’, who has been in the service for more than three decades.
In a job that doesn’t even have a provision to address the women who form a part of their workforce with a proper title, Indrawati has held her own since 1982.
In a conversation with The Better India, Indrawati, speaks to us about her journey.
Hailing from a village where girls were not even sent to school or educated, Indrawati speaks of how she came to be educated.
“It was my mother’s untimely death that led to me joining a school. Maybe the others in the house just wanted us out. Whatever it was, it worked in my favour. Even applying for the job happened by chance and I am so glad that it worked,” she recounts.
“On September 13, 1982, when I took up the job I wasn’t thinking about breaking any glass ceiling or making a mark. It was a matter of getting a job that paid for our living,” she says. One of only two women who were part of the post office back then, Indrawati feels that she has come a long way since.
“I joined as a post ‘man’ and will retire as one. In fact my first and last posting are also the same (she is currently at the Gol Dhak Khana near Connaught Place in New Delhi)
“Times were very different when I joined. Besides being a woman, I was also the first one in my family to bag a government job. There was a lot of pride attached to that,” she says.
When asked what a typical day at the post office looks like, she says, “My day at work begins at 9.00 a.m. I start by sorting out the mail – there is a method by which this is done. We follow a route similar to what buses follow. Once done with the sorting, we carry the letters and leave for the day.”
A mother to two and grandmother to four, Indrawati ensured that she educated her daughter-in-law, who had studied up to grade 12 when she got married to Indrawati’s son.
In the many years of service that Indrawati has put in, she says that she has worked in all departments of the post office. “I can say that I know how all the systems work here.”
When asked how people around her viewed a female post ‘man’, she says, “In the beginning, people would look with amazement. However, with time there has been immense respect that I have been given. There was one instance when a drunk boy misbehaved with me. But even he, the next day when he returned to his senses, came and apologised to me,” she says.
Slated to retire in the next 20 days, Indrawati looks back at the many years in service with a lot of pride and nostalgia. She urges women to take up the job and says,
“Have confidence in yourself and walk with your head held high always.”
As we are about to end our conversation, she says, “Perhaps it is time we start calling ourselves ‘Postperson’. Let’s move towards achieving gender equality and neutrality here as well.”
Here’s wishing Indrawati all the very best as she gears up for her retirement.
(Edited By Vinayak Hegde)