If you’ve had a chance to visit the latest recipient of the Padma Shri, you’ll find that she’s continually tending to the throngs of relatives, friends, journalists, and well-wishers that come to her door step. Of course, she won’t be at peace till she’s managed to feed everyone who visits.
Since the time of the announcement, Pappammal has been giving streams of interviews.
During her telephonic interview with The Hindu (TH), she said, “I gave 30 interviews yesterday.” It’s only natural that this would make for a surreal experience. The recipient said, “This is all like a dream.”
Pappammal comes from a family of farmers, who thoroughly believe that hard work goes a long way. R Balasubramaniam, her sister’s grandson tells TH, “I used to assist her in the fields and remember her chiding me if I rested even for a little while.” He further says that, “She would say, ‘When I am working non-stop at this age, what makes you stop? Get back to work’. She was quite intimidating: six-feet tall, with a stern voice and feet that never rested, we would bury ourselves in work whenever she was near.”
Pappammal owns a farm of 2.5-acre in her village, and belongs to a family of agriculturists. Nowadays, she mostly focus on and grows bananas in her field. She used to grow lentils like green gram and horse gram. If that’s not all, she has worked closely with the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University. “I learned that all the chemicals that we used on our crops were harmful for the soil and for consumers,” she told the newspaper.
Her experiments and methods gained popularity that the university began sending students on field trips to learn her methods of cultivation. Balasubramaniam says, “They visited her as part of the ‘Village Stay Programme.’” She would even pay certain farms a visit, upon the recommendation of the university. Balasubramaniam recalls, “They would send her a letter a week ahead and she took a bus to the village or town. She has travelled to several cities for farmers’ meets. She never thought twice about approaching any officer in the many meetings she attended,” adding, “ She would walk right ahead, enquire about his family and hometown and get whatever she wanted done.”
So what’s next for the recipient? We believe that she’ll go about her routine like nothing’s changed. For Pappammal, age is just a number and has never slowed her down. “Even today, I wake up before the sun, wash my face, and go around the village once,” quietly laughs as she adds, “I cannot sit still,” she signs off.
Image credit : Twitter @Prernakumariadv