The Daily Brunch website is turning six months old today and we want you to meet some one special. Meet Sicily or Cicily from Kollam city, spell the name as you please because she does not know any better and she doesn’t care anymore. She used to, but has forgotten now. She claims to be 95 years old and has been a widow for over 6 decades. She does not have any kith or kin and has been alone for more than half a century. She does not have a house of her own or any prized possession for that matter- just some eggs and some rags. Even at the age of 95, she is a hardworking woman who goes from house to house selling eggs for a living. She is fondly called by the name “ Muttamma”. “Mutta” meaning “eggs” and “amma” meaning “mother” in Malayalam.
Life hasn’t been very kind to Muttamma. Her husband passed away when she was around the age of 35 or so. She had given birth to a baby boy who died of a stomach infection at the age of three. Her memories have started to fade away into oblivion. For years now, Muttamma has been saving her money for her own funeral. Having a decent funeral ceremony without causing any financial burden or inconvenience to anyone has been her long cherished dream.
Muttamma has always been this way from the time I remember- always kind, with grey hair, wrinkled skin, toothless smile, stooped posture. She has always been a mystery to me. “How can a person be so old?”, I have always thought. Now I am close to my thirties but she is still the same, just older and more senile. She can’t hear very well and has lost the vision in one of her eyes completely. She can hardly manage to walk a few steps at a time and needs to rest every now and then. Now Muttamma has become “Muttammooma”, “Ammooma” meaning “Grandmother”.
Muttamma still manages to sell eggs but she can’t carry anything heavy now. Besides, vendors try to fool her now by selling her old, rotten eggs. However, she has managed to survive so long thanks to the kindness of the local community members. Because everybody has known her forever, most people treat her with kindness and respect. She cannot eat most of the things now. Muttamma knows that she cannot trust everyone and she entrusted petty amounts of money (her life savings) to a few of people who she has known for years- to spend on her funeral. Occasionally, she would come to take a hundred or two hundred from the money she has “deposited” for her daily expenses and those kind families would replenish that money without her knowledge. She does get a very small amount as widower’s pension as well. Now that she is so old and frail, though people are willing to entertain her for a short time, they are too scared to let her stay for long in their houses. Nobody wants to be responsible if something bad happens to her.
If you happen to meet her, you would realize that your smallest gesture overwhelms her with happiness. She is just happy that you remember her or that you held her hand. Everybody likes Muttamma because there isn’t any obvious reason to dislike her. She is the epitome of hard work, perseverance and resilience. She has never given up in life and is an inspiration to all those who has lost hope in life.
When Muttamma was slightly younger, she would bring special eggs for the children- “duck eggs” , “quail eggs” etc. Every Christmas she would buy a whole bunch of Christmas cards for all the kids in the locality and would ask each one to pick out one or two cards. We were allowed to pick out any card we liked provided we write the lines “With love from Muttammma” on the cards..!
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