Memory: My Radhamol: Devayani Kunhambu

Translated by J Devika

[Accounts of the resistance and suffering of women and children during political struggle in mid-20th century are relatively rare — this is therefore a very valuable account, from a leading woman activist of the Communist Party in the 1930s and 40s who married a male colleague who later became a prominent leader. If party leaders were hidden by the most deprived sections of the people who took the brunt of police violence for them, this account reveals how their wives, too, found refuge in the families of working-class, lower-caste women. Devayani’s story is also unique in another way. While the wives of upper-caste communist leaders were protected by their families, often large joint families — tarawads — Devayani, who hailed from south Kerala, Travancore, married a man from Malabar and migrated there and lived in a labouring community, and for her, the experiencing of marrying a communist involved learning to labour as well.]

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy — Part 1 (Continued)

To the Law College

Those days, Sara Pothen had just completed her BA and was living with her parents. Mr Chandy met Mr Pothen and discussed the matter of sending his daughter to the Law College. He was willing; so was his daughter. I have already told you that Mr Chandy returned with the application form to Law College. I tried my last hand to escape from it, but to no avail. He completed the form himself. I signed it, with much reluctance and fear.

Continue reading “The Autobiography of Anna Chandy — Part 1 (Continued)”

The Autobiography of Anna Chandy — Part 1 (Continued)

Mr Chandy Enters My Life

I was a third-year student at the Arts College, Thiruvananthapuram, when Mr Chandy entered my life making me his life-partner. I was 21 then; he, 30. At that time, I was a nobody — just the daughter of the widow Sara who was a teacher at the Holy Angels’ Convent. There was nothing remarkable about me except my excellence in studies.

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy: Part 1 (Continued)

I continued my education after High School at the Maharaja’s College. Because I had a slight partiality for the Malayalam language, I approached the Malayalam professor Sri C P Parameswaran Pillai to seek his view, hoping to opt for Malayalam as my elective subject. When I told him, he looked astonished, and said, “My kutty, don’t bother us — Mappilas (that was a common way of referring to Christians) are very poor in Malayalam. I am not sure whether you will even score pass marks. Whatever, don’t even think of taking it as your optional subject.”

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The Autobiography of Anna Chandy – Part 1

Childhood and Education


Yours truly was born on 5 April 1905, in the asterism of Aswathy. There has been no dispute about the date of birth, but I cannot say that there were no disagreements at all. Long after the time of disagreement had vanished, the article on the women of Kerala which appeared in the Femina magazine of 12 November 1971 referred to the first woman Judge in the Commonwealth as “the 68-year-old luminary.” Now, if this case were before retirement, I would have filed an affidavit, argued, and got it dismissed with costs. Because it surfaced now, so I’ll let it go.

Continue reading “The Autobiography of Anna Chandy – Part 1”