“It’s a man’s man’s man’s world,” the popular song says. In a “male-dominated” world, a single mother in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu posed as a man for the past 30 years to raise her daughter.
Pechiyammal from Katunayakkanpatti village in Thoothukudi, was just 20 when married her husband. However, just 15 days after their wedding, she lost her husband to a heart attack. She gave birth to a girl child later.
As per reports, when Pechiyammal tried to raise her daughter without remarrying she faced harassment. To face the world head-on, she cut her long hair, wore a man’s dress, and completely disguised herself as a man. To complete the disguse she started addressing herself as “Muthu.”
Over the past three decades, Muthu has worked in many places like hotels, tea shops in Chennai and Thoothukudi. Everywhere she worked, she was called as ‘Annachi’ (a traditional name for a male), a report in News18 said.
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“I did all kinds of jobs, from working as painter, tea master, parotta master to 100-day work. I saved every penny to ensure a secured life for my daughter. After days, Muthu turned to be my identity, which in turn was mentioned on all documents, including Aadhaar, Voter ID and bank account,” she was quoted as saying.
She said that disguising herself as a man kept her safer at the workplace. “To make my identity real, I always occupied seat only on men’s side in buses. I used men’s toilet. Although the government announced free travel for women in buses, I paid the fare,” the report quoted her as saying.
Pechiyammal’s daughter Shanmugasundari is married. Only a few people and Shanmugasundari knew of her secrets until recently. “She devoted her life to me. I hope she gets the allowance,” said Shanmugasundari.
Even now, Pechiyammal wants to live and die as Muthu. “I wish to be remembered like this even after my death. I’ll spend the rest of my life like a man if I get pension from the government. I’m ineligible for many schemes,” she was quoted as saying.