A day in the Life of a “Malayali Mulayathi”- Kuttipennu, Age 59, Avinissery, Trichur
For anyone who is living in the present she is a “specimen” from the past. Scary with her bushy hair and her stained teeth, she plays around with thorns, but at the end of the day she comes out with a fence.
She lives alone. She never says her name when asked. Some people call her “mulayathi” – may be because she makes fences out of bamboo. She gets up early and finishes her daily chores of her home around. As breakfast has never been a concept in her life, she cooks some rice and packs it in her old ‘ചോറ്റുപാത്രം'(lunchbox). She leaves her house at 9 with her huge knives and rope, searching for houses which need fence. She says it’s hard to get job nowadays as the fenced boundaries of houses were substituted by stone and brick walls. Still a few people rely on bamboo fence and call her. If called for work she is quick and efficient says one for her usual customer from an ‘Illam’ who calls her for work always. She cuts down thorns from the nearest bamboo that she finds, ties them up like plating hair and fixes them using long bamboo sticks. Fence is set. “In old times I used to build fences all around the house but now mostly it is inside gardens and vegetable fields”- says Kuttyppenn.
She doesn’t need a clock. If it is 11’ O clock she will be sitting somewhere, eating her food – her breakfast or lunch or whatever it can be. For her it is her food for the day. Once the work given to her is completed, she collects her wage and a handful of rice and if possible, old clothes. She still keeps a distance when she sees the so called upper caste people. She says it is a sin to touch an upper caste. She got 300 rupees for the work that day and she says- ‘I can use this money to get my new knife’.
Back home she sits in dark to save kerosene. There is no electricity in her house still which she is not bothered about it. She makes ‘kanji’ and ‘pappadam’ for her dinner. With a deep sigh she says-“when I am lonely at night I always think about my son who died in a train accident”. She prays to god every day before sleeping.
Reported by: Varun Mohan