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A poet who fought for nature and mankind; Farewell to Malayalam’s own Sugathakumari….

Thiruvananthapuram: Poet Sugathakumari, the renowned Malayalam poet, is now a memory. She was eighty-six years old.

Sugathakumari was born on January 22, 1934, in the Vazhuveli family of Aranmula, the daughter of Bodheshwaran, a Gandhian, poet and activist of the Kerala Renaissance. The famous Sanskrit scholar of that time, V.K Karthiyani teacher was her mother. After graduating from the University College, Thiruvananthapuram with a degree in Philosophy, she started learning the concept of Moksha in Dharmartha Kama Moksha, but dropped out before completing it.

She was active in the early days of women’s liberation thought in Kerala. Sugathakumari was greatly influenced by her parents’ involvement in socio-cultural spheres. She was greatly influenced by her father’s poetry, social activities and patriotism. She was the founding secretary of the Nature Conservation Committee in Kerala. ‘Abhaya’ was started with the aim of rehabilitating women who have been abandoned by their relatives. She was the first Chairperson of the State Commission for Women and one of the leaders of the Silent Valley Protection Movement.

Sugathakumari’s first collection of poems was ‘Muthuchippi’ published by Mathrubhumi in 1960. Then came ‘Paathirapookal’, ‘Paavam Paavam Manavahridhayam’, ‘Pranaamam’, ‘Irulchirakukal’, ‘Ratri Mazha’, ‘Ambalamani’, ‘Kurinjipookkal’, ‘Thulavarshappachcha’, ‘Radhayevide’, ‘Devadasi’, ‘Manalezhuthu’, ‘Abhisarika’, ‘Poovazhii Maruvazhi’, and many more.

An educator, writer and critic, late K Velayudhan Nair was her husband. Lakshmi is her only child. The sisters, Dr. Hridayakumari, Dr. Sujata Devi grew up with the poet in the field of literature, culture and education. Sugathakumari was deeply saddened by the death of both of them. When Sujatha Devi passed away due to illness, Sugathakumari Teacher wrote a heartwarming poem ‘Sujatha’ for her younger sister.

She has been honored with the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, the Padma Shri, the Ezhuthachan Award, the Saraswathi Samman, the Mathrubhumi Sahityapuraskar and the award for Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Literature.

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