It is a story of an incredibly determined and hard-working girl Nandhini. She loved to study, and her dream was to become a headmistress and later a collector. Nandhini lived in a small village Sivagangai in Tamil Nadu with her parents, Poovayi (mother) and Mani (father) along with her siblings Sasi and Vijay. Both her parents were farmers.
One day, while plucking guavas Nandhini slips from the tree and breaks her hip and leg, because of which she is unable to take her board exams. Her mother sells her earrings for her operation. Nandhini gets operated and is soon back on her feet. She takes her board exam the next year and plans to take tailoring classes during her summer break. She excels in tailoring in a short period of time and her teacher encourages her to go to Tiruppur, where she can learn the craft better and earn money too. She scores less marks in her board exams and soon feels that her dream is fading away. She is now determined to go Tiruppur. Her parents initially do not agree but finally give in.
Nandhini stays at her aunt’s house in Tiruppur. She learns tailoring in the same company where her aunt’s son, Ramesh works. Nandhini and Ramesh get married after Nandhini gets a job. They have two kids – Deepa and Naresh. They are happily settled, but one day, hell breaks loose on Nandhini when she hears the news about Ramesh’s accident. Ramesh dies in the accident and Nandhini plans to come back to her village and start farming in the piece of land given to her by her father to take care of her children.
Nandhini’s grandmother advises to grow paddy in half of the land and try growing vegetables in the other half. She also advises her to speak to other farmers as well. Her father is against this as he feels that she would not make enough money because of the brokers. Nandhini works extremely hard in the fields from early morning to late night to grow vegetables. She also buys a second-hand bike so that she can sell the vegetables directly at the market and avoid brokers. A few months later, she meets a farmer who suggests her to grow Sampangi flowers. Nandhini likes the idea and starts growing Sampangi. The first bloom of Sampangi comes only after six months. She wakes up in the morning to pluck the flowers as the bulbs of Sampangi fetch more money than the full-bloomed flowers. Soon she makes a steady income by selling flowers.
One day a filmmaker’s car breaks down near Nandhini’s house. She offers to help them by calling a local mechanic. Her grandmother makes some scrumptious food for the visitors and narrates Nandhini’s life story. The filmmakers are extremely impressed by her life’s story and plan to shoot a documentary. They make a short documentary on her, which becomes a huge hit.
She gets interviewed by the newspapers and receives a medal and a certificate for being the first ever ‘woman farmer’. Nandhini is also invited as a chief guest to her children’s school for their annual day. She gives a short yet inspirational speech about how one can take control of one’s life through hard work and determination.
I enjoyed the part when Nandhini gets an award for being the first-ever woman farmer. I liked Nandhini’s character because she is an incredibly determined person and never wants to give up. The book gave me a glimpse of the life of people in a village. I also learnt new Tamil words like Kozhambu (gravy), Poriyal (fried vegetables) Appatha (grandmother), Adhirasam (sweet) etc.
The story is a fictional adaptation of Aparna Karthikeyan’s article “A thorny life, but Chandra bets on flowers”. Published in People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) on August 9, 2017. I will recommend this book to all my friends in the age group of 10-16 years.
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