“As a child, I used to read the newspaper to my father. Since my father could not read, I used to read and read interesting stories from many books. I used to write my letters to my relatives. Probably for these reasons, my interest in books increased. So, when I got a chance to work in the library, I did not give much thought. ”, Says KP Radhamani of Kerala.
Radhamani, 64, from Modhakkara in Wayanad district of Kerala, works with the local Pratibha Public Library. The interesting thing is that her job is not to sit in the library and give books to the people, but she goes from house to house to deliver books to the people. For this work, she walks about four kilometers every day.
Talking with The Better India, he said, “Many times people ask me why I do not use any vehicle to deliver books to them. There are two reasons for this – walking and nature. Walking is good for health. To be honest, I am healthy even at this age due to being active. Why increase pollution by using a vehicle when I can walk easily. Therefore, I come to all the houses on foot by giving books. ”
Having only studied up to class X, Radhamani wants to connect more and more people to books. He said, “Earlier we used to live in Kottayam. I studied there and then in 1978, we came to Wayanad. I got married only six months after coming here. ”
She said that her husband never had any permanent work. So as household responsibilities increased, he decided to move out of the house and work. Before joining the library, he worked in many other places. Radhamani said that from 1985 to 2008, she worked as a ‘kindergarten’ teacher. She taught children from tribal families living in the vicinity. After this, she joined many other organizations like ‘Kudumbashree’ and ‘Wayanad Social Service Society’ etc.
A ‘moving’ library became for the people:
Radhamani further revealed that in the year 2012, he started working in the library. By the way, this library was built in the year 1961. But it has already been possible for people to connect with it regularly a few years ago. Especially that of women. She says, “To connect women with books and library, ‘Kerala State Library Council launched a special initiative. If women cannot come to the library, then we should take the books to women. This initiative was started for women, but now children and elders also take books from me. ”
Earlier this initiative was named as ‘Women’s Reading Project’ and now this initiative is known as ‘Book Distribution Project for Women and Elderly’. Under this initiative, Radhamani has been distributing books from door to door for the last eight years. She says, “I get up at half past five in the morning and after doing the housework, I go to the library. After this, I take some books from the library in a cloth bag and go to give them door-to-door. I always keep a register with me to write the necessary information of all the women who take books from me, their name, book name and date. ”
Radhamani travels about four kilometers on a daily basis to deliver books to 40 houses. She says that by reaching books at home, the trend of women towards reading books has increased. Vindhya, who takes books from them, says, “I like to read, but due to household responsibilities, I only get time to read books at night.” Therefore, I was not able to visit the library regularly before. Occasionally I would get a chance to go to the library, I would bring many books home. But now there is no such problem because Radhamani ji gives me books from time to time. ”
Radhamani says that a total of 102 people are attached to the library, 94 of which are women. Nowadays most of the women are working. Because of this, she stays in the office all day. Keeping this in mind, Radhamani himself decided to deliver the books to those women on Sunday. Therefore, she takes leave on Monday instead of Sunday.
Radhamani says that earlier women used to read only the magazines that came with the newspaper. However, she is now becoming interested in novels as well. Girls studying in schools and colleges keep asking for books from them for preparing for government jobs. The price of these books is up to 300-400 rupees. But by paying a monthly fee of only five rupees, anyone can read the books of this library. Radhamani is sending 500-550 books to the people in a month.
He said, “Keeping in mind the corona epidemic, there is not much work to be done at the moment. Due to the increasing cases of corona, at the moment, I go to only 20 homes every day. In the meantime, I take all the instructions like social distancing and putting a mask on the mouth, taking full care of myself and others’ safety. ”
He added, “I don’t get tired of walking. But yes! Sometimes the weight of the books gets a bit high. But, when people return books to me and tell me what they liked about the book and what other books they want to read, I forget the weight and fatigue of the books, seeing their growing interest. I am happy that I am able to connect more and more people to books. ”
Apart from working as a ‘Walking Librarian’, Radhamani also works as a local guide in the tourist season. Apart from this, she has also trained in making herbal soap and whenever she gets time, she makes and sells soap. She said that in order to strengthen the economic condition of the house, she has been working in different places. Two years ago, she also opened a grocery store for her husband, so that her family could have a permanent employment.
In the end she just says, “Women should not miss any opportunity to move forward. If they are standing on their feet, then there is nothing better than this. Women can do everything, they just need to believe in themselves. ”
Surely Radhamani is an inspiration to all of us and we hope that his story will inspire many people.