I have always been intrigued by Kannagi, the epitome of womanhood, endurance, patience, faith, power. I have preferred to stare in awe and wonder at the idol of Kodungallur bhagavathy, the Pratishta of Kannagi, than to bow down in veneration. The image of Kannagi haunts me… She visits me every now and then… through stories, images, books, temples, rituals, dance….She keeps reminding me that I am one of her tribe…”Am I?”, I wonder!
On this day, when my inbox, mails, and newspapers are filled with glorified stories on women and their achievements, when women find a reason to applaud themselves and the leaps and great strides of their peers…,Let me tell you the story of Kannagi! Not the Kannagi of the Tamil epic Shilappadikaram, or the Bhagavathy for Cheranadu, or the Kannagi who burnt down Pandya desam….! This is the story of Kannagi, who inspires me every day, who brings a smile on my face, who cleans and cuts, and dries and folds for me, who brightens up my day!
I have never seen her cry, complain or brood. One day she came with a swollen face, but her smile was still on. When I asked her what happened to her face, she said, “My husband came drunk and hit me”. I couldn’t believe she was still smiling as she said, “All this is nothing akka!, its over…I have to work.. it gives me peace of mind and I am happy!”
The other day, she came late for work, still with her smile on… “Sorry Akka! My tenth standard daughter has failed. I had to go to her school. She has got herself into some affair with a boy in the neighbourhood. She wants to quit schooling and get married. What can I do? I hoped she would study well, and do a decent job.”
I wondered how she kept smiling inspite of all these problems. The next day I enquired about her situation at home, and she said still smiling, “I am telling myself not to worry. Every problem will have a solution. And I am waiting for mine.’ Having said this she resumed her daily chores with enthusiasm.
During those times when I have my face in books, and when my mind yearns for a dose of caffeine, she comes...”Akka, have this coffee...”
During those times, when I have to leave my family behind , she says,”Akka , I am there, don’t worry!...”
She is a mother, sister, friend, caretaker…
I have never seen anyone loving her job the way she does, nor have I seen a more sincere, open, down to earth person, a loving human being…! She might not be known to the world… but she is an achiever, a leader, a mother,... who stands up each time she falters with a smile of faith , hope and dreams…! To this spirit I salute…!