Meet Kuppamal – A middle aged, extremely hard working Garden Maintanence staff in one of the numerous corporate offices in Chennai.
Women like Kuppamal will be seen all around us, in our office corridors, on our streets and at times in our houses – in the form of that lady who irons our clothes, the one who sweeps the streets and at times our houses, the one who runs the street-side food stalls and at times our kitchens – they’re our ‘akka’s, we often see them slogging away in Chennai heat, but even the harsh summer sun wouldn’t have dimmed their smile! And their stories, well, their stories will definitely put a smile on our face too.
Here is Kuppamal’s story as shared by Mr.Sujith Kumar, Founder and Trustee at Maatram Foundation, an NGO striving to provide free higher education to deserving students from economically deprived background :
When someone gives you a sweet, you would want to eat it or sometimes share it with your friends around. For the first time, I felt I should laminate and frame this sweet and put it up in my office. Kuppamal, the lady in this picture giving me sweets works in our office as one of the Garden maintenance staff. Extremely hardworking and lovable, I have hardly seen her resting and most of time she will be busy doing her work watering the plants. In the last few years, my interaction with her has been more of exchanging pleasantries. Few days back, my colleagues told me that she was looking for me and later in the day she met me with tears in her eyes and jumping in joy. She came running to me giving me sweets and said “Sir, my grandson has passed 12th standard exams. Please take this sweet”. Wishing her well, I asked her on how much did he score and she was so innocent that she said “ Sir, I don’t know all that. I know he had passed. Where can I get information on his marks”. Smiling at her, I asked her to call him and check on his marks and she came back in 2 mins and said “ Sir, I don’t know if this is good marks but my grandson said he had scored 1094/1200”. I congratulated her that it’s a very good score and this young lad has a cut off of 180/200. It’s only then she opened up and told me the background. Selvam (Name Changed) is her daughter’s son and Kuppamal raised this boy after her daughter passed away at a very young age. The boy’s father married again but Kuppamal wanted to ensure that her grandson’s education should not be affected at any cost. She raised him by giving him the best of education in a private matriculation school and told me what she tells her grandson almost every day “Thambi, the place I work is a big company…I see young people like you working there in Computers and coming in bikes and cars. You should study hard and work in a company like this, that will make me proud and I will tell my colleagues proudly that you are my grandson working in this company”. I used to wonder what drives people like Kuppamal to work and many a times thought it was probably for 3 square meals a day but then I was wrong…people like her come to work with a larger purpose. To me she looked very tall with what she had achieved and I promised her that her grandson will pursue his dream course from one of the top Institution in Chennai. I asked the boy if he wants to study staying in the hostel and as expected got the reply “No, thank you sir. I would like to stay with my grandmother” . You should have seen the pride in Kuppamal’s face….priceless.”
[media-credit name=”Image Courtesy: Sujith Kumar” align=”alignnone” width=”688″][/media-credit]
Women like Kuppammal are the new-age super heroes, who are leading a silent revolution, the one of educating the next generation, no matter what their circumstances are. They don’t wear capes, what they wear, is a smile and they’re fighting the good fight with lot of love and class.
A big hug to all those Kuppamals out there. You inspire us and women like you are our pride!!
A huge shout-out to kids like Selvam. We need more young men like you!!
A big salute to people like Sujith Kumar and what they strive to achieve through NGOs like Maatram Foundation. What you do, make a difference! #Respect