Gouri Amma

We live in the most tumultuous times when exit from the world and life we have taken for granted is determined by a small being.

As a woman living in Kerala ridden with patriarchal norms sugar coated as liberal progressive novel thought, it is but inevitable that one feels concerned about what one leaves behind, what will be the reference that your life will be…

The death of one of the most bold and honest women politicians in Kerala K.R.Gouriamma recently leaves behind more intense thoughts and feelings for introspection. While media and political parties took over her exit to coin phrases like “ revolutionary mother, star “ and so on, Gouriamma has left behind a rich and unique Pandora’s box of inimicable gems -interventions and speeches that reflect on her sensitive, sensible, strong and unflinching stances on whose side she is  based on the ideology she believed in and practised till her heart stopped pulsating at the age of 102. It is to be understood that apart from stray references this “trouble making” remnants will soon be burnt away .

As a 33 year old woman who 68 years back gave a representation in the then Thiru Kochi assembly before the Chief Minister Panampilly Govinda Menon, K.R.Gouri Amma explicitly states the nature of the crisis. It seems extremely relevant as we struggle to handle the crisis of the pandemic . This is the first ever fervent plea for a lockdown recorded in the historic documents of Kerala Assembly.

“ Do you know what a midwife does when she attends to a delivery of a woman in a house with Filariasis , Mr.Govinda Menon? Oh leave that- in a house with Cholera? Or one with Chicken pox? Atleast  do you know that women are giving birth even in such houses?

Leave that too- are you at least aware that there is Cholera, Plague and Chicken pox in this State? In between all these, it is only the midwife who has the courage to enter and walk from house to house. They will not hesitate and stay away like you rulers. They will visit each house .But if you are asked to give a measure of rice every week to them , you will immerse yourself hugging the treasury.

In Kuttanad Cholera and Chicken pox are spreading from house to house . Can you not stop the people from moving outside so that it does not spread from house to house?  Can you not announce using Police Force with loudspeaker that no one should step outside from infected houses?  Why are you not able to impose an order that no one should move till the spread of the disease is arrested ?

If people do not move then they will have no means to eat . For this the Government should provide rice. You are incapable of that. I am standing on the side of Opposition and saying this. If you have any sense, any responsibility to the land and people, I am asking you once again to do this. Please retain the people staying in affected houses inside. Give them and the midwives rice . Are you capable of that ?”

Years later, the same woman stood up in Kerala assembly against 139 members who took a stance not to give the land back to Adivasis and declared “ I am not with you but with them” .she spoke to the then CM A.K.Antony to intervene and amicably settle the prolonged  resistance put up by Gothra Maha Sabha in front of Secretariat. The CM and C.K.Janu signed the official  agreement that accepted  the right of adivasis to land and governance .

Yes, this Pandora’s box will be shut tight  because Gouri amma’s political trajectory to be the Chief Minister of Kerala was destroyed by those who realised the consequences of making her one !

Yes , Gouri amma should and will remain in our hearts not as “mother , giver and embodiment of patience and victim hood”  but as an intelligent, sharp, alert woman who steered clear and away from all hurdles deliberately placed to check her growth..and at each point she emerged and created her own niche .

What Kerala missed was to be held in the able hands of such a woman !

Adieu, Comrade

Anitha.S referring to writings on Social media by Civic Chandran and Arun N.M

Translation of the speech by K.R.Gouri amma 68 years back .


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One Comment

  1. Radha Gopalan says:

    Anitha, thank you for this, for the fierceness with which you have given us a glimpse of a woman who stood tall. In the face of such entrenched patriarchy and misogyny, Gouri Amma stood up fearlessly for justice: land reforms, the Adivasis’ right to their land. Inspires all of us to stand up and speak up for justice and humanness.