As the world celebrates Women’s Day on Saturday, there are many like septuagenarian Rethnabai, who still toil to earn a living, even at an advanced age.
The 70-year-old woman from Meicherivilai near Kaliyakkavilai in the district transports people from one bank of the Tamirabarani river to the other by operating a boat, which she rows.
Tamirabarani runs between Methukkumal and Vilathurai village panchayats under Munchirai block. By road it is more than 10 km to reach one village from the other. But on crossing the river from a spot called Anjalai Kadavu, a person could cover the distance within 10 minutes. Rethnabai has been operating a rope-pulled boat service for the past several years for transporting people from one riverside to the other.
A nylon rope is tied at both the riverbanks and is attached with the boat. Both the banks are located within a short distance and Rethnabai’s house is on the riverbank at Meicherivilai under Vilathurai pan-chayat. People who require the service, by standing on the banks of the river call Rethnabai and on hearing them she takes the boat and transports people.
She operates the boat from 5 am and ends the service at 6 pm. “Some 20 years ago, my husband Ramaiah used to row the boat and transport people. As he became weak, I started to operate the boat and now he is no more,” says Rethnabai, a mother of four sons and two daughters.