TIRUNELVELI: Cut off from the blistering pace of urban life, Kuttiyammal has always lived her life at Injikuzhi, a village in the KMTR forest, about 25 km uphill from the nearest habitation, Chinnamayilar Kaani, near Papanasam dam in Tirunelveli district.
There are eight families (with 21 voters) that reside in the neighbourhood and all of them have to take a five-hour trek all the way down the hill to get groceries or ration, or even to cast their votes.
Kuttiyammal must be above 110 years of age, says her son, Sankarapandian (72), adding that she hasn’t been able to exercise her franchise for at least the past four elections.
She is believed to be the oldest woman there.
“She is too aged to last through the trek, and so was unable to cast her vote,” says Sankarapandian.
Iyyappan (40), another relative of Kuttiyammal, says, “She couldn’t even avail the postal vote facility as most of us here are unaware of how to apply for it. Moreover, two people have to stay back in the neighbourhood whenever people go to Chinnamayilar Kaani, to guard the houses from wild animals. The remaining residents started their trek Monday night itself so as to cast their votes early in the morning and return soon. We do not find the trek difficult as all residents here are used to this path since childhood.”