A centenary celebration

Nothing can stop a woman who is determined to succeed. 1914, World War 1 had just started. In a tiny hamlet in Tamilnadu; Devalapuram, a family celebrated the birth of Pappammal also known by the name Rangamma. A 107 year old inspirational lady today. Born during a time when India was under the British rule and women were confined to the four walls, she broke barriers at a mere age of 16 when she started her first venture of owning her own idli-vada shop.

Pappamal lost her parents at a young age and was brought up by her paternal grandmother in Thekkampatti, Coimbatore. With no formal schooling she learnt everything on her own. She was married at the age of 14 years and inherited her grandmother’s provision store and eatery. The couple adopted a boy since they could not have children. As years rolled on, she was elected the Sarpanch of her village when she was only 35 years. This gave her a chance to meet farmers and learn about organic farming, a topic that fascinated her. In 1959, she was elected ward member of Thekkampatti and Councillor in the Karamadai Panchayat Union. When she turned fifty, she invested all her money and bought 10 acres of land for cultivating crops for her family needs and donating the extra produce.

Fifty-seven years later, she still starts her day at 3:00 am and ensures she reaches her farm before her workers. After a whole day of harvesting and ploughing the field she gets onto her cycle with her produce to sell it in the market. She says the younger lot is often lethargic and she has to be around to get her work done. When asked about her secret to a healthy life, she smiles “Mutton biriyani is my favourite.”

She has not taken a single day off from her work and became the talk of the town when she turned 100. Just when she thought she has lived a great life from her idli-vada venture to owning an organic farm, life gives her yet another surprise. She gets a call from New Delhi saying she is being awarded “Padma shri”, the fourth highest civilian award in the country to which she responded with a polite thank you. Crowds now gather around her house to buy her produce and to take pictures with her, requesting her to pose with a smile or a stern look, she finds it all a little too funny. People around invite her to bless wedding ceremonies and prominent personalities come to take her blessings. They call her their lucky mascot! With thirty interviews a day, her grandson tells her “Paati, you have become a celebrity!!” with a sassy response she chuckles “When have I not been one?”

Reference Source : Humans of Bombay

By – Ms Rajeshwari.R
Education Consultant & Freelance Writer
Cochin

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