Chennaiite recalls freedom fighter P Kakkan’s simplicity

Chennai: Social activist and a long-time resident of K K Nagar in the city, Sitalakshmi Mahadevan (77), has an interesting tale to tell.

She recalls her meeting with freedom fighter and politician P Kakkan, fondly known as Kakkanji, and about Independence, when she was young.

“I used to travel by 5E bus to my office from K K Nagar to Taramani. At Chinnamalai, Kakkanji used to get into the bus. Commuters and I used to ask him to sit by offering our seat. But he used to say ‘Amma Ukkarunga, Thaymarellam Nikakoodathu’. Even when the conductor offers him the seat, he would refuse to sit. This showed his simplicity,” she says.

Kakkan was born on 18 June 1908 in a village called Thumbaipatti in Melur Taluk, Madurai district of Madras Presidency.

He was drawn to the independence movement from an early age. While in school, he joined the Indian National Congress and also participated in the Quit India Movement and was sent to Alipore jail.

He served as a member of the Constituent Assembly of India, Member of Parliament, president of the Tamilnadu Congress Committee and served in various ministerial posts in Congress governments between 1957 and 1967. He died on 23 December 1981.

Recalling about the first Independence, Sitalakshmi says,”When I was 6 years old, Independence was announced. There was only one radio at the Panchayat at Pattur in the then Thanjavur district. Orange peeper mittai was given to us. Our teacher told us to say ‘Vanda Matharam’ and ‘Jai Hind’ and we repeated it,” she said.

Sitalakshmi resides at 41/5, Srikentan Apartment, R K Shanmugam Salai, K K Nagar. Ph: 98417 65222.

Karthikeyan Halan