At the crack of dawn,Yogita Raghuvanshi gets behind the wheel and hits the highway all alone. For the past 15 years, this single mother of two from Bhopal has travelled to nearly every corner of the country in her truck, bending all the unwritten rules of the road.
Clocking in miles at a steady speed of about 45 kmph, munching on sprouts,and chewing on cinnamon to keep alert,this is how Raghuvanshi, 49, makes ends meet for herself and her children.
On her journeys across the country, it helps that she is fluent in English, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and Telugu. One of the country’s leading truck manufacturers has custom-built the truck she drives with such elan. It’s painted a bright red.
Life was not always like this for Raghuvanshi. In 2003, her husband, Rajbahadur Raghuvanshi, was killed in a road accident. In a double tragedy, her brother was killed while he was making his way to attend the funeral. That’s when she found that the commerce and law degrees and a beautician certificate she had acquired were not sufficient to give her children a good education. Raghuvanshi decided it was time to take the wheels. Amazingly, Raghuvanshi says she has never felt frightened or threatened on her long hauls. “Other drivers actually encourage me,” she says. And dhabas welcome her with warmth.