K. Shyamala is gearing up for the next academic year. She is just 81 years old, saysDEEPA H. RAMAKRISHNAN

K. Shyamala is eighty-one years old, and looking forward to her next course in Vaishnavism at the Madras University. There is talk of a course on Nalayira Divya Prabandham being brought under the open university system… If that happens, I will be the first to apply,” says the octogenarian, who lives in Karpagam Gardens.

Not long ago, she completed a bachelor’s and a masters degree in the same subject, returning to the classroom after a long hiatus. With the support of the Venkatakrishnan, head of the department of Vaishnavism at the University, she dealt with the initial hiccups.

‘At every contact class, he would encourage me. My confidence levels soared, and I sat in the front bench,” says Shymala. Her family was a big source of encouragement. “My son was cheering me along the way. My daughter-in-law would write essays for me. Now, she has signed up for MA Vaishnavism,” said Shyamala, who recently received an award from the Lioness Club.

Shyamala had earlier successfully completed a bachelor’s vaishnavism, where a paper in English introduced her to Shakespeare and Tagore. “Tagore’s Kabuliwallah brought tears to my eyes,” she says. Two degrees have not Shyamala’s hunger for learning – she believes only a few pursuits are more fulfilling than treading the path of knowledge.  

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