Shehreen Aman— a braveheart battling to make ends meet on FAST lane

After finishing lunch at school, Shehreen Aman, a Class IX student of RPM High School, walks swiftly to the Kumbalam Toll Plaza on National Highway 66.

Published: 08th December 2021 06:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th December 2021 06:52 AM   |  A+A-

Shehreen Aman selling FASTags near Kumbalam Toll Plaza on the National Highway 66 | Albin Mathew

Express News Service

KOCHI: After finishing lunch at school, Shehreen Aman, a Class IX student of RPM High School, walks swiftly to the Kumbalam Toll Plaza on National Highway 66. Flashing a FASTag card on the sidewalk, Shehreen waits desperately for a vehicle to pull up. Occasionally, she holds up a banner under the scorching sun to make herself visible to passengers who are casually driving by.

Come what may, Shehreen is at the plaza selling FASTags every day for a month now. She is not doing this for some extra cash, but to support her family that comprises her mother, a temporary staff at the Ernakulam Medical College, and a 10-year-old brother, who is suffering from Mitral regurgitation (MR) and is deaf by birth. He has undergone four major surgeries. Shehreen has been balancing work and studies for a while now. The 14-year-old ran a ‘kulukki sarbath,’ shop for three years till the lockdown happened. 

“My mother works hard to take care of me and my brother. I have seen her crying because she doesn’t have Rs 100 to take my brother to school. If I can be of any help, that would be good. I had to shut the kulukki shop when the lockdown was declared, and couldn’t restart the business. I couldn’t afford to stock the ingredients,” says Shehreen.

Shehreen rushes to her FASTag stall right after lunch and stays there until dark. “It’s a race. Couple of others also sell FASTags there. Even if I wave at a vehicle, it might stop at another seller and that costs me a sale,” she says. On some days, despite standing for hours and skipping meals, Shehreen sells hardly two tags. “Tags cost Rs 300 and Rs 500. When I sell them, I get to keep Rs 70 and Rs 100 respectively. On some days, I won’t even sell a single tag,” says Shehreen.

Shehreen is unperturbed by the comments passed by locals for doing the odd job. “She has to. If a situation arises where I can’t provide for the family, she should be capable enough to take over,” says Shahanas V K, Shehreen’s mother, who has been a temporary medical staff since 2004. Despite many requests to ministers to appoint her as a permanent staff under special consideration, nothing came through. 

“If I am a permanent staff, at least there will be job security. My kids will benefit from it. It’s been over a decade and I am trying to get the ministers’ attention,” she says. Shehreen is a hard worker who also wants to keep studying. “I make sure to study atleast two hours daily in the evening. I aspire to become an IPS officer,” she added.


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