We often come across instances where people have showcased great resilience and an indomitable spirit in the face of adversity and didn’t give up no matter what life threw at them.
Such is the story of 87-year old Vasumathi Amma from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Despite grappling with hardships throughout her life, she never stopped believing in herself.
After losing her husband, she became the sole provider for her family of 8, and she took to making and selling pappadams, or papads, to eke out a living that would feed her and the kids.
Locally known as ‘Pappada Ammumma’ or the Papad granny, Vasumathi has been selling papads for the last 40 years by the roadside at the famous Chalai market.
She sells a pack of 25 papads for ₹20, and while people many of her age would probably have given up by now, this enterprising granny is unstoppable.
Yet, Vasumathi lives a life of relative obscurity, and her presence and calls for sale are quickly forgotten by the passing public. She lives near the city’s renowned Attukal Temple and each day is a struggle, but it is her inner strength and independent will that keeps the octogenarian going.
Even today, it is Vasumathi who has been singlehandedly managing all the work that goes behind the pappadam making—right from procuring black gram from the market, peeling these to prepare the dough, spreading it out in various shapes and drying them under the sun till they are ready to be sold.
According to Pappada Ammumma, her pappadams have no traces of adulteration, and that keeps their sale going and along the line, her life and living too. Although her frail body battles with many ailments including heart disease, her visage never betrays this and what people see each day is a toothless smile with no malice or anger towards life.
Vasumathi’s incredible story of resilience and self-sufficiency became viral in the state when one young man named Bijus Sailabdeen shared her photographs along with a post about her life on Facebook, a few days ago.
People only had respect and admiration for Vasumathi, who bowled the cyber world over with her never-give-up attitude and enterprising spirit. Some even responded with offers of financial aid and support.
We salute Vasumathi Amma and her resilient spirit that has kept going through the years with dignity and confidence, but what we hope is that help reaches her soon, so that she doesn’t have to sit under the sun and cry her lungs out through the clamouring rush of the Chalai market anymore.
If you wish to help Pappada Ammumma, please find her account details that were shared by Bijus, below:
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)