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Krishnaveni 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.

The London 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 villages.

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 parents.

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 him.

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 to Kodumudi.

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 them.

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 2008

Also Read : The 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 in Chennai.

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