is the eldest of the three children brought
up by the widow mother Valli at Kodumudi. The younger brother and
sister were well looked after by her who did cooking and baby sitting
at home. Their mother, the only bread winner of the family was too
busy to look after them. Her full day ended up in the chores as
servant maid to earn a few hundreds. Never their existed any quarrel
among the siblings.
Thankfully the regime of the then chief minister Kamaraj that introduced
noon meal scheme nurtured them and all students responded to the
importance of education. Full attendance was reported in all the
elementary schools in the Periyar district of Tamilnadu.
Krishnaveni with a pony tail and kempt hair was clad in green petticoat
and the material she wore was terribly coarse. It produced the noise
of a wet bed sheet when fluttered or walked in a hurry. Walking
bare footed was a natural healthy was of living for the weakest
economy members. Krishnaveni enjoyed the roadside scenery everyday
while covering two miles to her school. With left over rice gruel
for the next day's breakfast, she was prompt and punctual enough
to school. Back home she helped her mother in the dinner preparation
and in cleaning vessels. Earthen ware was adjudged the best for
the leftover cooked rice to be soaked in water overnight. Accompanying
her brother and sister, she enjoyed going to school.
Mission School was the place of wisdom where Pitchu vadhiyar
was the school teacher during the 60s. It was a time when
Australian milk powder was introduced for supply to schools.
His late father Vembu Iyer was an upright and ethical man
whose deeds were known thoughout Kodumudi and its surroundings
Pitchu was not only a man who was bound up in his work but
also a good cook. All have seen him serving tasty food with
affection at the noon meal scheme center. Through him the
elementary school children had the warmth of home at school.
The District Education
officer who made few appearances at school was the satisfied soul
under the management of Pitchu. vadhiyar. The village though looked
somber otherwise, woke up to the alarm of rooster and the ringing
of bell at the Makudeswarar temple for the usha-kaala puja. The
vacant land near the Malayamma temple was the palyground for youngsters.
Elders and ladies made it a compulsory daily dip at the Cauvery
ghat. The early morning rays displayed the perfect laws of spectroscopy
and optic connoisseur. The warmth of sunny rays splashing on one
side and the cool wind from the agriculture lands laden with the
strong smell of kernel drenched the other half of the body that
gave a mesmerizing effect.
Krishnaveni added meager support to her mother by way of pruning
and weeding jobs in the cultivated lands owned by Pannaiyar or the
landlord. She waited restlessly for her education to get over so
that she could vigorously jump into action with her mother. The
school was the epitome of knowledge, culture and values as Pitchu
made it compulsory for all to qualify above elementary level. He
personally visited the habitual absentee students and enquired their
Days rolled on and
Krishnaveni struggled hard to reach SSLC. All the years her mind
was inclined towards taking up a job and ultimately thought that
an average pass out is sufficient. The electives never frightened
her as science and history did. Her ears automatically shut her
brains from concentrating at the spell of Panipat and Kalinga battles.
Her chemistry of scientific reasoning hardly worked out to her expectations.
The D-day came with fan fare for the jubilant ones. Krishnaveni
passed out successfully with a third class. She was thankful to
her teacher-mentor Pitchu who took care to uplift her status. Falling
at the feet of the noble teacher her mother wept in joy and praised
Though her mother wanted her to take up Teacher's training after
Intermediate, Krishnaveni was bent upon the fact that she cannot
do justice as a competent teacher. Hence her choice was the postal
service which was very dear to her. She had seen postman Duraisami
carrying mail bundles across the village without tension.
She wondered how a postcard dropped inside a red box came out with
a stamped face to reach the addressee. She had seen him reading
out letters near the temple on the banks of the cauvery and down
the paddy fields. It was those days when non-departmental candidates
berthed a place in postal service backed up by the village headman.
Since the mail traffic was low for that village, Duraisami covered
the beat up to the limits of Unjalur. The district head post office
at Erode dispatched very few articles, registrations and Money orders
Krishnaveni joined the postal department as sorting clerk. She liked
the ways seal was affixed on letter with a bang. It reminded her
of the way wheat flour was mixed, kneaded and beaten for Roti. The
mails received from Burma and Ceylon came to a standstill and overseas
mail was a rare scene. When Danushkodi was washed out in 1964, the
inland mails from Rameswaram and Mannar completely stopped. The
only option that came to rescue was the Moarse code service for
Years rolled and Krishnaveni had the responsibility to marry off
her younger sister. Her brother a studious young man enjoyed the
college life at Kandar's college, Vellore.
As a spinster Krishnaveni shouldered the family responsibility and
balanced her life with focal approach. Having completed long innings
in the career, Krishnaveni opted for a VRS and wanted to settle
down in Kodumudi which transformed her and gave a meaning to her
life. The award she received for distinguished service was a milestone
in her life.
Whenever a pal of gloom invaded her mind, she took solace under
the comfort words of her fragile teacher, Pitchu. The octogenarian
teacher who was in penury was so magnanimous in words and kindness.
She had done the best she could for her family and enjoys a retired
life with her brother and his family in Chennai. The cycle of responsibility
has turned its wheel and she happily baby sits for his kids. With
no other choice she had to do irrelevant jobs in the past when she
was young and today it has become her passion and passing time.
What an irony!
For Krishnaveni, the village school teacher, river Cauvery, Makudeswara
temple, post office and the Daak Seva award remains nostalgia for
ever. Beyond the postal beat, moarse code and pincode, into a world
she travels loaded with memories of Kodumudi. Selvaraj Chandrasekar
Also Read :
Teacher Has Come
Kodumudi and the Cauvery
Contributing Story Teller
A freelance copy/content/creative writer in English &
Tamil, for the past 3 years writes for Mudaleedu, Velaan vaniga
Ulagam, Travel & Shopp - Chennai /Bangalore edition, Nikitha
Ad agency. Currently working as Manager -HR with a epublishing BPO