March 27, 2013

Inspiration for the day

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Kalyani, Palakkayam,  Chaliyar, Malappuram

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Thirty years ago, twenty one year old Kalyani read in newspaper that the post of a tribal instructor at Palakkayam deep inside Chaliyar forest was vacant.  It was perhaps not the honorarium of Rs.100 that attracted her, but an innate attachment for forest and its sylvan style of life.

So despite vehement opposition from everyone except her father, she packed her belongings and made the trek of her life to the land of Muthuvans and Kattunaikkans.

Oppositions were to follow her everywhere.  First the inhabitants suspected her to be an agent of the British.  Added to it, the customs of the settlements did not permit intermingling with outsiders.  Her stay itself was a big issue.  However, with the intervention  of District Tourism Promotion Council, she was allowed to stay in an extended portion of the home of the tribal leader himself.

Despite many hurdles that discouraged contact with the students, she persisted and soon endeared herself to the settlement by her dedicated teaching.

It was during these times that she found a place in the heart of Krishnan Kutty, the son of the tribal leader.  Her intention to marry him created another furore back home.  Following Kalaniís house arrest for one month, Krishnan Kutty came down to the plains and pleaded her case in a court of law.  And the law soon made her the daughter-in-law of the tribal settlement.

On her shoulders fell the task of teaching them everything from hygiene to letting go of their age old prejudices.

It took many years of patient effort to achieve that.

After the death of the old leader, Krishnan Kutty became the head of the settlement.  And Kalyani has found herself at the centre of many an activity beside teaching schoolchildren.  This includes, among other things, acting as midwife, naming newborns, bathing, cutting the hair etc.

One person had indeed brought positive change to an entire village.



Courtesy: Joony Jacob (text), Sameer A, Hameed (photo), Malayala Manorama, March 3, 2013


"A wise man cares not for what he cannot have."