At 74, this teacher has taken Malayalam poetry online

ernakulam-sarasamma
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Teacher Sarasamma has been in love with Malayalam poetry all through her life. She loves to dwell deep into the beautiful verses which have profound meanings. Her deep passion for poetry has prompted her to come up with a unique idea which allows her to communicate with people who are equally passionate about the art. She began a WhatsApp group for poetry admirers where the members could indulge in some serious discussions about poems. Besides, she has also started a Youtube channel which promotes good poetry. Within just one and a half months of venturing into the online platforms, both her WhatsApp group and Youtube channel became super hits among poetry lovers.

Muvattupuzha native Sarasamma now lives at Koonamthayyil in Idappally. It's been 50 years since she has been reading and teaching poetry. In a family of 11 siblings, Sarasamma K Nair grew up listening to beautiful poetry by some of the most celebrated poets in Malayalam. She loved to read aloud the poems that were in her textbooks and also her siblings' books. Her father, who was equally passionate about poems never failed to encourage his daughter's love for poetry. Among the 11 siblings, 7, including Sarasamma, became teachers and the rest landed jobs in the government services. Her elder sister passed away 3 years ago. Writers Chandrasekharan who writes in the pseudonym Balendu, and Muthalapuram Mohandas are her brothers.

She got appointed as a teacher at the government Model High School Palappuzha 25 years ago. The teacher even worked for 6 years at the Aroor UP School. Her husband PN Kesavan Nair too is a teacher who retired as the principal of the Maradi School. Sarasamma who retired as a headmistress, says that she fell in love with poetry ever since she began teaching it.

Sarasamma teacher happily chooses poems for students to recite at competitions. She even tunes poems and train them to recite it without losing the essence of it. Not just the school where she was teaching, but the neighbouring schools, too, invited her to teach poetry there. She never disappoints any of them. She gets thrilled and excited when her students compete with each other at the recitation or aksharashlokam competitions.

She joined the Changampuzha cultural centre when she moved to Idapally after retiring in 2000. The teacher even managed the activities at the centre for 8 years. She is often invited as a judge at many poetry recitation competitions. Sarasamma teacher started a kalari (training centre) at her home to train young kids in poetry. As the number of students increased, the classes shifted to her WhatsApp group. She would sing the poems and shlokas, record them and post on the group. Within 24 hours, the students would listen to it, learn the tune and other features and the record their own version and post it on the group. The teacher would then make corrections in their renditions. She would correct at least 30 such voice clips a day. Sarasamma even has students from Dubai and United States of America who are members of the Kavyalapanam WhatsApp kalari.

When her WhatsApp group became incredibly popular, she began a Youtube channel called Kavitharamam. Anyone can upload videos of poems in it. Many prominent poets have recited their poems and uploaded the videos of it on this Youtube channel. Around 32 such videos have already been uploaded on the channel so far.

From the legendary poet Ezhuthachan to many modern poets who give prominence to meters and stanzas, Sarasamma teacher has a long list of favourite poets. However, she admits that she has a special liking to the beautiful poems of Vyloppili Sreedhara Menon. But her favourite poem is 'Prema Sangeetham' by Ulloor. She says that the poem conveys great philosophical values in each of its lines. Even though she has been reading and teaching poetry for more than 2 decades, Sarasamma teacher hasn't written a single line of poem until now. She doesn't have any regrets about it, as hundreds of poems and poets have always been part of her life.

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