Married at the age of 17, widowed at 21, Thankam lived the life of a recluse for about 30 years in the prime of her youth inside the four walls of her home.
Married at the age of 17, widowed at 21, Thankam lived the life of a recluse for about 30 years in the prime of her youth inside the four walls of her home. But at the age of 50, she started exploring the world, and within four years, she became popular as the best coconut-climbing woman of Chokli panchayat near Thalassery.
She joined Kudumbasree when she was 50 and a 10-day coconut climbing session changed her life.
She was widowed with two children in 1984. She fought against all odds when she realised the disadvantages of living a closeted life.
While any coconut climber would stop with around 30 trees per day, Thankam would climb around 40 trees, earning around `1,000 per day.
“People ask me whether I am afraid, but my life has taught me one thing — if I stay afraid I’ll remain that way forever,” she says. What made Thankam bold and strong was her 30 years of lonely life. “It was a deep stab to my heart. My in-laws feared that I would forget everything and would run away with someone, abandoning my children. Hence they never let me out,” says Thankam.
But her tribulations were not over. Soon, two of her brothers-in-law too died due to an accident. “My in-laws thought I was a bad omen to the family. From then on, I had to endure their bad words. I kept silent thinking about my kids and their future,” says Thankam.
Years went on and both her kids grew up. But Thankam’s life was not changed until four years ago when her neighbour forced her to join the Kudumbasree. That made all the difference.
“Though I started unwillingly, later I realised that those years of silence and loneliness were a mistake,” she says.