Sreeshma Purushothaman’s only dream while growing up was to drive a lorry. “I still remember my dad teaching my mother how to drive a lorry. I used to tell my family that when I reach class 5, I will also start driving. It was only later that I realised you need a license to drive,” recalls 24-year-old Sreeshma.
Having set her priorities early in life, Sreeshma set out to achieve her goals. And by the time she turned 18, she got her license for 2, 3 and 4 wheelers. “Many thought that I wanted my license because I am not good at studies. However, I proved them wrong when I passed class 10 and 12 with good marks. I went on to complete my BTech in Civil Engineering with good grades from Payyannur College of Engineering Technology,” says Sreeshma, adding that even though others used to demotivate her, her parents encouraged her love for motors.
Then by the age of 21, Sreeshma achieved her goal of driving a bus by attaining a license for heavy vehicles. “I was the only girl in the group waiting for a license for heavy vehicles. Everyone there was supportive and yet surprised to see me there. Without much difficulty, I passed the driving test and obtained my license.”
Since obtaining her license, Sreeshma had driven a bus just twice, and she used to drive the tipper once in a while. “Watching me drive, many people used to ask me whether I was driving because I don’t have a good education. But I wouldn’t care,” says Sreeshma, adding that she received tremendous support from her friends. “Many friends, especially girls, have said to me that they feel happy watching me drive and they have asked me to teach them to learn driving. And I am eveready to help others in every way I can,” she says.
When the lockdown was imposed in Kerala, Sreeshma’s father, Purushothaman, a cement trader in Kannur district, lost out on his business. That is how she began her journey as a tipper driver. Sreeshma informed her father that she can help him with small rides.
“Many with good education qualifications may stay away from this type of small jobs, but I never thought so. There is nothing like a big or small job. All jobs should be respected. I know that one day I will get a job according to my qualification. Until then, I am ready to help my father in all ways I can,” adds Sreeshma.
Sreeshma has been driving the lorry for the past six months carrying loads of cement, gravel and bricks.
Meanwhile, she also finds time for her Public Service Commission training and is also learning how to operate an earth mover.
Sreeshma says, “Many have discouraged me, mocked me, laughed at me, but the only thing I have to tell others is that we all have dreams, and we should work towards making them come true. Never think about what society has to say. The same society that once dissed me, now understands how I help my father.”
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)