104-year-old Indian girl learns to read realizing her lifelong dream

NEW DELHI: When the morning paper arrives at her home in Thiruvanchoor village, Kottayam district, Kuttiyamma Konthy, 104, studies her intently from cover to cover – a luxury unimaginable until a few years ago. months, when she realized her dream of learning to read and write.

Illiterate all her life, the youngest landless farm worker daughter of a marginalized community, Konthy knew that education was a passion she could not pursue in her early years. As a teenager, she married an Ayurvedic medicine salesman and raised five children.

“Life was tough at first and survival was the only concern back then,” Konthy told Arab News. “Education was beyond our means and our imagination, as well as our social status. “

Decades later, while taking care of her 10 grandchildren, she learned the alphabet of her native Malayalam – the language spoken in the state of Kerala, in southern India – but not well enough to read.

Help came unexpectedly when her 34-year-old neighbor, Rehna John, realized her dream.

A literacy teacher, John started giving alphabet books to Konthy and the two met every night to assess progress, which was faster than expected.

“She’s the brightest of all the literacy students I’ve taught so far,” John said. “She managed to complete all of the courses in three months which were to last a year.”

Konthy’s achievements were recognized in November when she scored 89/100 on a state literacy exam and Kerala Education Minister V. Sivankutty announced her test results on social networks, with a note stating that “age is not an obstacle to entering the world of knowledge. . “

Konthy can now enroll in the fourth year of elementary school, a new chapter she looks forward to.

“It makes me happy to be able to study,” she said. “I never let my dream die and I want to live this dream.”

Being active is also what she attributes her good health to. Other than a few hearing and visual losses, the 100-year-old student doesn’t complain of any illnesses and says, “If you don’t just sit idly by and stay engaged, it keeps you fit and healthy.

Her morning engagement today, before she continues to clean, is the local Malayalam wide format newspaper Kerala Kaumudi.

“I really look for the newspaper and read everything that is published there,” she said. “It’s a habit for me and it makes me feel good.”

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