At 103, Kamalakshi Ammal recollects her harrowing days in Burma and Punjab prior to independence

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Kamalakshi Ammal

Sasthamkotta: Even at the age of 103, Kamalakshi Ammal could not get rid of the scorching memories of the second world war and communal riots during her days in Burma and Punjab.

Kamalakshi Ammal was born on February 16, 1920. At a very young age, she was married to PR Subrahmanya Iyer, who was a stenographer in the army camp of British Commonwealth countries in Burma. When Kamalakshi Ammal turned 18, she went to Burma with her husband. Burma was a British colony then and the country witnessed a series of wars against Japan, led by British commonwealth nations and the allied powers.

Life in the army camps was arduous for Kamalakshi Ammal. Most of the time, she and other families of the army men were lodged in dungeons. Kamalakshi Ammal still remembers the day when a woman and her children were shot dead in front of her.

When the situation in the army camp turned unbearable, she returned to India with her two children. However, Kamalakshi Ammal finds herself blessed as she could meet Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose from the camp.

The flight from Burma landed in Dibrugarh in Assam. She was accompanied by several Malayalis. A ship took them to Peshawar via the Brahmaputra river. Kamalakshi Ammal had no idea of what was waiting for her in Peshawar. After deboarding the ship, the passengers were taken to the Pandu railway station, where they stayed for many days. Later, with her kids, Kamalakshi Ammal left for Delhi solely to meet Jawaharlal Nehru. She remembers how kindly Nehru spoke to her and gave sweets to her children.

Kamalakshi Ammal was in Punjab when the partition and associated riots spread all over the nation. She could not step out of the house as there were communal upheavals everywhere in Punjab. When India declared independence on August 15, 1947, Kamalakshi Ammal went to Madras and celebrated the day with her family.

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