Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The passion of Rassundari DevI

:Madhukar Shukla links to an article about the beginnings of girl's schools and an earlier lady Rassundari Devi born in 1810 who had twelve children, so busy with household drudgery that she did not even have time to eat on some days. But she was so passionate about reading and writing that she taught herself "to read and write by scratching the letters of the alphabet onto a corner of the blackened wall of the kitchen" (from the introduction to her pages in "Women's writing in India: From 600 B.C. to the present" Edited by Susie Tharu and K.Lalita, 1993).. Her memoirs were published in two parts in 1876 and 1906. She married at the age of twelve, the idea that she should read and write entered her mind at the age of fourteen, but could not do any thin about it. She had her first child at 18. She says as a child she used to sit in a classroom and listen to the chants of the children. At some stage (she does not say when) she started recalling thirty letters. One day she dreamt that she was reading 'Chaitanya Bhagavata' and woke up feeling happy that at least in dreams, she could read. The book was available at home but she did not know which book it was. Her eldest son was eight at that time and she got the book with his help, took out a sheet from it and kept in a secret place in the kitchen (because women were not supposed to read and write). After many days, she stole a palm leaf on which her son used to practice writing." One look at the leaf, another at the sheet, a comparison with he letters I already knew, and, finally, a verification with the speech of others-that was the practice I adopted for some time. Furtively I would take out the sheet and put it back promptly before anybody could see it."
Here is the link from Madhukar Shukla's wall

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