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Opinion

Sugathakumari: Activist whose poems gave voice to the weak dies after Covid at 86

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Malayalam poet and activist Sugathakumari, who dedicated her life to championing the cause of the environment and defending the rights of women and the underprivileged, died Wednesday of post-Covid-19 complications at the Government Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, members of his family said. . She was 86 years old.

One of the pioneers of green activism in Kerala, Sugathakumari’s poetry championed the causes she believed in. He warned people against exploiting nature and advised them to think about future generations. His poems also gave voice to the weak and suffering.

Sugathakumari was at the forefront of a campaign against the Silent Valley hydroelectric power project in the late 1980s that forced Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to form a panel of scientists to decide whether to build the dam. The panel presented a report against the construction of the project, which was ultimately dismissed.

The last habitat of the lion-tailed macaque, Silent Valley National Park in the scenic Nilgiri Hills is one of the richest biospheres in the southern part of the Western Ghats.

The poet-activist was born into a family of freedom fighters and social reformers. His father, Bodeswaran, was a Gandhian and his mother, Karthuyani, a Sanskrit scholar. She began writing poetry at a young age under a pseudonym before becoming an established poet and writer. Her sisters Hridayakumari and Sujatha were also writers.

Sugathakumari died the day a court in Kerala’s capital gave life sentences to a priest and a nun for murdering 19-year-old Sister Abhaya and throwing her body down a well in a case dating back 22 years. . Whether it was the Abhaya murder or the Suryanelli scandal, which involved the exploitation of a minor incited into the sex trade, she was always at the forefront demanding justice for the victims. Her activist friends said that Master, as she was fondly known, would have been happier to hear the verdict.

Two years ago, when a sit-in was organized before the secretary of state in a gesture of solidarity with five nuns protesting in Kochi against former bishop Franco Mullakal, who allegedly raped a nun on several occasions, she was at the scene in a Wheelchair.

“Poems were his favorite weapon to enlighten people. His’ Marathinu Stuti ”(Hymn to a tree) and other poems say it all,” famous writer MT Vasudevan Nair said in a message of condolence. “A born fighter who interacted with people through her literary works and actions,” said poet and movement director Sreekumaran Thampi.

Kerala Prime Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote in a message: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the poet Sugathakumari. As dean of Malayalam literature and with a career spanning decades, she has left an indelible mark on Kerala’s cultural life. We extend our condolences to his family and join them in grief. “

“Don’t bring me flowers when I’m dead. If you want to remember me, plant a banyan tree, ”she said once when asked how she wanted to be remembered.

She left a space for people to plant saplings on the lawn of Abhaya, a home she established for destitute and mentally disabled women in 1992. After being cremated on Wednesday night, many of her friends planted saplings in the space. to fulfill your wish.

Received many honors, Sugathakumari received the Padma Shri in 2006 and received the 2012 Saraswati Samman, instituted by the KK Birla Foundation, for his collection of 27 poems. Manalezhuthu (writings in the sand). He leaves behind his daughter Lakshmi, who runs the Abhaya household.

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