This Kerala Woman Has Been Distributing Books on Foot Everyday for the Past 8 Years
For Radhamani KP, her daily routine hasn't changed much in the past 8 years. Lugging around some over 30 books, she goes around her village to houses distributing library books to women of the houses, even on Sundays.
Radhamani, who works at the Prathiba Public Library in Kerala’s Wayanad, this has been a regular feature ever since she took on the mantle of the 'walking librarian'. Her village women, who usually work under the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) scheme are home on Sundays and thus it is the best time for them to read the books, she tells The News Minute.
At 64, Radhamani walks two to three kilometers everyday just to deliver book to these women. The coronavirus pandemic hasn't been able to do much to dither her work, as even during the early days of the pandemic, people who had grown used to getting books from her, landed at her house to borrow books to read during the lockdown. The library has 102 members and a staggering 94 of them are women.
Originally writing her story for the Voices of Rural India, Radhamani says at first these women were not much interested in reading the books but only the local magazines such as Mangalam and Manorama but eventually as they started finding an interest in the novels she gave them, more and more people started borrowing them from her to read. Now she even takes suggestions from them on what to keep as books which they borrow once they are finished reading.
The Kerala State Library Council had started the initiative of the 'walking librarian' that encouraged women from the villages to read under the name of Vanitha Vayana Paddathi (Women’s Reading Project) and now it is called Vanitha Vayojaka Pusthaka Vitharana Paddithi (Book Distribution Project for Women and Elderly).
Radhamani took up the job in 2012 from her predecessor but she was involved with the library since much before. She often had meetings with Mahila Samajam, a women’s group and caught on the habit of reading since then.
She used to love reading as a child too, she told the News Minute and often read out newspapers to her father who couldn't read.
After her marriage in 1977, an elderly woman next door took her to the launch of the new building of the Prathibha Public Library. The library started in 1961, Radhamani said.
She worked at a printing press and then for 24 years as a teacher who taught tribal students under the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme for the Children of Working Mothers for tribal groups.
She has always been involved with activism. She was a part of Kerala's poverty eradication and women empowerment programme Kudumbashree and also worked as a guide for Tourism Department and learnt a bit of French and English. That was where she started growing accustomed to the long walks.
A morning person, Radhamani's day starts at half past 5 and she finished household chores before she goes to the library to start her daily rounds. She also helps her husband run a small shop and in the evening, its time for a bit of television, and of course, her books.