THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The capital city would never be able to forget the time when Sugathakumari stood guard overnight against the civic authorities’ decision to cut down an age-old Banyan tree at Sasthamangalam.
As soon as she got to know about such a decision, the veteran poet along with a bunch of other green activists, including Binoy Viswam, gathered at the site in protest against the authorities’ decision.
Though Aranmula was her birthplace, Thiruvananthapuram always held a special place in her heart.
The demise of eminent poet and activist Sugathakumari has left an irreparable loss and void for the capital city. Her contributions to environment, art, culture and women rights were unparalleled and her demise has left a deep void for many in the capital.
Former minister Binoy Viswam, who had a very warm relationship with Sugathakumari, was devastated by the news of her demise.
“I have had a very fond relationship with my teacher for the past many years. It’s a personal loss for me. She has always been fearless and stood for the cause whether it’s environment or humanitarian. The last time I met her was before the pandemic. We used to be in touch always. During our last conversation which happened two months back, she was concerned about her health and said she may not live longer,” said Binoy Viswam.
“There used to be a time when the authorities used to axe trees in the name of development. This incident happened around 10 years back. It was night time and a group of people tried to cut a tree at Sasthamangalam. The forest officer who went there to stall the process was held hostage and I had to arrive at the scene. The people who were assigned for the job were drunk and were not listening to anybody’s request. Tension was in the air and within 10 minutes after my arrival Teacher along with her daughter arrived there. She was fearless, adamant and stood courageously for the cause. They couldn’t intimidate her and she was very clear about her stand. She told them they cannot cut the tree without getting permission from the tree committee,” Binoy Viswam said.
Being an active member of the tree committee, Sugathakumari had been the reason for the majority of green cover the city has right now. For architect G Shankar, Sugathakumari Teacher had been an influential figure all his life.
“I grew up reading her work. Her poems had a reinforcing effect on me and helped me bond with the environment. I met her when I was studying in the fourth standard. She was the director of Balabhavan then and I had the chance to meet her to invite her for an event at my school. During the meeting she told me to keep my smile always on and said life is going to be very tough but don’t stop smiling,” said Shankar, who too worked along with her in the tree committee.