Karthyani Amma, 96, is a few minutes away from receiving her first certificate of merit in her life. She is on the way to Thiruvananthpauram from her home town of Cheppad in Alappuzha district to have the Aksharalaksham literacy certificate from Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, in the capital. In the equivalency examination, here score was a whopping 98 on 100! That is Karthyani Amma for you. The Kerala State literacy mission conducts equivalency examination in different grades for people who could not get proper schooling.
The results were out yesterday, but the big number does not satiate her by any means. Her teacher, daughters, and grand children are wondering what to say when Karthyani Amma is asking for the two marks that have disappeared. “She lost those marks for mathematics,” granddaughter Sajitha Manikandan, a Hindi teacher says. The qualifying Class IV examination held by the Kerala Literacy Mission Authority in August under the 'Aksharalaksham' (Million Letter) programme.
The hunger for knowledge started when Amma’s daughter Ammini Amma, 62, finished her tenth-standard equivalency examination with first class. Her teacher, Sathi, Literacy Prerak in Cheppad, only had to ask Karthyani Amma if she loves to learn or not. The answer came in a jiffy.
Everyday, Karthyani Amma spends an hour attending classes at home, apart from the time spent for self-learning. “We want to keep her happy in the way she wants, that’s it. She’s so childish. Now that she has learned the letters and manage to read words,” Sajtha says.
Karthyani Amma was born to an Ezhuthashan (a traditional instructor in the yesteryears). Her talents went unrecognised in an era where mandatory schooling for girl children was not a priority. She became a wife by the age of 13, bore six children, got widowed at a very young age, faced the hardships to raise the children. Two of her daughters survive. Now she is the matriarch of a battalion of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Karthyani Amma is keen on learning computer these days. Whenever she finds the laptop of her grandson, she pays rapt attention to take things at a glance. There is a bigger aim in the pipeline.
“She always keeps her books under the pillow. We have registered for the fourth standard equivalency examination. Soon, the study materials shall arrive and we’d start the lessons. She wants to stay hale and hearty to finish tenth standard,” says Sathi teacher. Interestingly, her 25-year-old grandson is about to complete his plus two under the Literacy Mission examination!
The fitness freak Karthyani Amma worth a model to emulate. Over the years, she was never knocked down by fever. She had hardly been to any hospital. Her choice of food is vegetarian dishes. She prefers boiled rice in moderation once or twice a week. And the biggest luxury is five cups of tea a day. And still going strong. What’s your excuse, huh?
The images of the nonagenarian writing the exam started going viral on social media and people could not help congratulate the inspirational woman's grit and dedication, despite her age. Even Congress Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted about Amma's achievement:
i had tweeted about this 96 year old Kerala student when she began her studies: yesterday she passed her literacy exams! Congratulations Karthyayani Amma! https://t.co/3fTbxSjs9s — Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) November 1, 2018
Remember her? 96 year-old Kartyaayani Amma, Kerala's senior-most student who wrote the Literacy Mission exam in Aug, is rank no. 1, according to exam results which came out yesterday. She scored 98% marks. 😍 No wonder her batch mate seemed so interested in her answer script. 😂 pic.twitter.com/QKjWUNz5g5 — Subin Dennis (@subindennis) November 1, 2018
A 96-year-old woman from Kerala - Karthiyaniamma Krishnapilla - proved there is no age limit to learning when she topped Kerala Literacy Mission Authority's qualifying Class IV exam with 98% score. pic.twitter.com/RCdWB9xqVD — THE VOTER 🇮🇳 (Ram Bhaqt) (@VoterWho) November 1, 2018
96-year-old woman, oldest among her peers, cracks Kerala literacy exam With 98% marks in the examination, Karthyayini will be declared 'literate' by the state government and is eligible to write the equivalent of the fourth-standard examination next year. pic.twitter.com/tIFdYcgyen — bazalel (@yuhannon) November 1, 2018
Get ready for a new lesson in #LifeGoals & a true story of a living #SuperWoman!96-yr-old Karthyayani Amma, the oldest to take a literacy exam in #Kerala. And she has topped with 98/100. I don't know about you,I am waiting to meet her tomorrow. & to see, if this is for real! pic.twitter.com/mWBTom4MVY — Sneha Koshy (@SnehaMKoshy) October 31, 2018