By Anitha S
22 December, 2012
Anselvam was returning home, her hands laden with provisions brought from her usual shop in Koodankulam. Spices to dry and grind for the fish curry, rice and lentils for the month and some new clothes for X’mas. She stopped by, put her load down, smiled and said
” Why did you not come yesterday- you could have seen Xavierammal and Selvi who are out on bail.Sundari is still inside with newer and newer charges”
“What about the other women who were arrested along with the Trio who are now more famous?” asked my friend
“ They are all back. But we were worried about Roslin who has been very ill. She is now hospitalised in Madurai”
This was on 20th November 2012.
Xavierammal, Selvi and Sundari are now in Madurai on conditional bail. Speaking to them on Sundari’s phone, one could sense relief and joy, but a certain subtle kind of anxiety and fear too. Xavierammal’s mother held my hands tight and asked “ What do you think will happen to us? What decisions will be taken?”
I had to hastily look away without answering when Tamizh sitting next to her shouted “We will win. The KKNPP will be shut down”.
Two weeks later walking into the Samarapandal, one could see the women in various groups , some engaged in talking, some in beedi rolling and some dozing. I sat near the group talking. It surprises me no end that even on the 490th day (17th December, 2012), the women were focusing on various aspects of the struggle. That day many spoke about their men going fishing and the catch, the unreliable dates of opening being announced by the Government. Selvi’s mother spoke of her grandson in 10th Class and her anxiety about his health briefly before asking about the support from the world. Malar who had travelled to Bhopal to receive the Chingari award shared her pain on seeing the many differentially abled children there and the meticulous way in which care is being provided by the women. There were silent questions being raised in all of their minds about the impact of radiation on their bodies and the future generations.
Now on 21st December, the news comes that Roseyln is no more. She died after many days of suffering in Madurai General Hospital but could be in her home the last few days. In spite of her illness that had started many months ago, she joined the September 9-10 event with all the vigour and enthusiasm of the Porattam to stop the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. She walked the hot and windy beach on that day with her friends and relatives forgetting the constant nausea and stomach pain that was ailing her frail body. She must have slept in the beach under the stars and sky, out in the open borrowing energy from the youngsters who were getting water and food for the people. She must have run, stumbled and fallen, watched Xavier ammal and many friends being pushed into the sea, seen Selvi being taken away by Police, felt the burning fumes of the outdated Tear gas shells before realizing that she has also been picked up. There was no special reason for her to be picked up that day except that she too participated in the struggle. Same as there was no specific reason for the 68 year old fisherman charged with the Goondas Act or the 7 young men who were taken by the Police when they went visiting the new Chicken farm enterprise of a friend nearby.
No special reason except for resisting the Nuclear Program of the country by demanding to shut down the Nuclear Power Plant at their door step. And be undeterred in their demand !
Roslin must have used all the energy in her weak body suffering under an undiagnosed pain to beg that she is ill and be spared the arrest. The strong and uncompromising hands of the Women Police must have held on to her bony arms hurting her more and more. In the unfamiliar jail with her other 6 women friends from Idinthakarai she must have felt the pain of being separated from her 3 children and her sparse bed where she could rest whenever she felt the fatigue overcoming her. After more than a month of confinement and constant shuttling to Valliyur and endless wait for some decision she was granted bail and released on Oct 30,2012. She must have been shocked to know the conditions. She had to sign in Madurai, more than 100 kms from her seaside home.
Unable to do the journey, her body pushed to the limits of endurance, Roslin must have heard that judgements like waging war against the Government and Sedition were upon her. Her mind and body longing for some rest and care in her small house with loved ones must have crumbled under the ominous weight of the charges. Yet she stood on.
When the disease growing inside her overpowered her, Roslin succumbed and had to be hospitalized. By then , the cancer like ailment had taken over. She must have dreamt of her home, her children, her childhood in between fits of consciousness. She must have certainly thought of the Porattam, the Saytagraha Pandal which has been their home for so many days and the one and only demand- to shut down the KKNPP. Not knowing the cruel ramifications of the charges put on her,Roslin must have dreamt of being free and healthy, of being able to go back to life, to being with her children and grandchildren, of waiting on the beach with her friends for the boats and fish catch, of cooking a tasty meen kozhambu ( Fish curry) for her family. If all of these dreams of a 63 year old woman has the likes of waging war against the Government and Sedition, Roslin’s failing heart would have pulsed a bit more in pride to be called so.
Instead yesterday it failed her, after months of improper neglect and lack of proper diagnosis and treatment even after it was in the records that she is ill.
Adieu, Roslin, Brave Heart….
After hearing the news that Roslin is no more and recounting snippets of conversations in Idinthakarai
Anitha.S , 22. 12. 2012
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