Most of the Indians remembered Gandhiji on this day – the one Indian who made India possible.
The half-naked fakir ( as addressed by Winston Churchill ), who proved to the world the glorious path of Non-Violence.
Mahatma. The Great Soul.
Some of us remembered another great Indian soul, who shares his Birthday with the Mahatma.
The second Prime Minister of India, the national hero under whose premiership India tasted victory in the Indo-Pak War of 1965.
The staunch Gandhian-turned-Nehruvian Socialist, who exhorted the country to ‘ Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer’ ( Jai Jawan Jai Kissan) as the life of India.
Lal Bahadur 'Shastri'.
Much has been written and spoken about both of them.
This post is not about them.
It is about a 16-year old girl from the village of Vayakkara, in Kannur ( ‘Cannanore’ being the official name being used by the Indian Railways) , in Kerala.
Her story dates back to the 1934.
This incident takes place at Vatakara , which is at present a part of Calicut in Kerala.
Gandhiji has been working on the upliftment of the so-called untouchables, who, he insists, should be called ‘Harijans’.
He wants to raise funds for the activities , and also create awareness among the people about the sinful act of untouchability.
He reaches Vatakara as a part of his campaign to address a meeting there.
He talks to the crowd that has gathered, about his cause in general and the Harijan Sahaya Samithi for which he is raising funds.
His speech moves the masses and once he finishes his speech, the people approach him one by one to donate whatever little money or jewels they have for his cause.
That’s when Kaumudi walks up to him.
As the Mahatma looks curiously at the 16-year old, she removes all the gold ornaments she’s wearing and hands it over to him.
He asks her if her parents have permitted her to do this, and her father who is present there, ratifies her action.
He then says that she’s not to get her ornaments replaced, to which she readily agrees.
He asks her again, “ Then what will you do if you give me all this” ?
She replies, “ I will wait till someone comes to marry me and not my gold.”
The Mahatma then voices a “what if no such person comes”, to which she says, “ I wouldn’t marry”.
He gives her his autograph, “ Tumhara tyag hi tumhara bhushan hoga” ! ( Your sacrifice will be your best ornament! )
He blesses her, and appreciates her faith on the ideology.
Later, he writes in his Journal, an article titled ‘Kaumudi’s Renunciation’.
From that 16 year old girl, Kaumudi grows up to become the first Hindi teacher of Malabar and retires after a successful teaching career in 1972. People affectionately call her, Kaumudi teacher :-)
The camera now zooms to the year 2009.
This is a humble home in Kadachira town in Kannur, where Kaumudi has been staying with her brother for the past few years, .
This is the 4th of August.
Just 10 days before the nation turns 62, Kaumudi breathes her last.
True to her word to the Mahatma, she’s not married.
I remember her, as yet another Gandhi Jayanthi goes by.
Hats off to you, Kaumudi teacher !
You are really kaumudi ( the word means Moon light ! ) to many of us !!
* Image courtesy - Google.
* That part of the conversation where she speaks about her marriage is from what I heard on her interview some years before her death. She said that when the interviewer asked her the reason behind her staying unmarried.