Luck plays an import part in Kanaka’s struggle to earn enough to make ends meet. For, she is a lottery seller, who depends on buyers who stake their money on pure luck.
But when it comes to changing the fortune of her own life, the 56-year-old from Maneedu leaves nothing to chance but put in the hard yards. That determination has seen the quinquagenarian spending four hours every evening after the taxing job of selling lotteries from morning till evening since this February to fulfil her dream of learning, which she was denied during her childhood.
Kanaka is one of the 17 participants of the literacy class being run at the Rajeev Gandhi Colony of Maneedu grama panchayat under Navachethana, the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority’s (KSLMA) literacy project for Scheduled Caste colonies.
“It often filled me with sadness all these years thinking how I was speaking words without ever knowing the letters and singing songs the lines of which I may never read. That is why this class gives me so much happiness. At least now I can do away with the humiliation of having to ink my thumb and can put a signature with dignity,” a beaming Kanaka told The Hindu .
She had attended Class 1 for a few days when her father’s death forced her mother to pull her out of the school to take care of her younger siblings. Life has been a hard toil since then and Kanaka never stepped into another school again despite her burning desire to study. But that sacrifice for the family brought little in return and she found herself dumped out of her home at Karingachira in Mulanthuruthy. The hunt for a suitable lodging brought her to Maneedu in Muvattupuzha where she had to start life afresh.
“Despite being illiterate, she was very articulate, sang well and impressed with her participation in one of the sessions organised by KSLMA. In fact, it was her interest and constant inquiry with her ward member that prompted us to start a class in the colony under Navachethana Project,” said K.K. Mini, instructor of the class.
With the end of the course test scheduled for November 25, Kanaka is as excited as she is tensed.
Having passed several sterner tests that fate threw at her over the past half-a-century of her life, the forthcoming exam, the first in her life, is likely to be a cakewalk for the affable lady.