She was among the first to declare her support for ‘women’s wall’ for gender equality and to protect the renaissance values in January 2019, following the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of women of all ages to Sabarimala.
In the last public appearance on the occasion of her 100th birthday in June 2019 in Alappuzha, veteran Communist leader K.R. Gouri Amma, wearing her trademark white sari, narrated her story to a jam-packed auditorium. “I don’t know whether I will live to celebrate another birthday. But I will raise my voice till my last breath for empowering women and will remain at the forefront of the fight against atrocities being committed against them,” she told in a quavering voice.
Among the many facets of her character, what made Ms. Gouri the tallest woman leader in the State and a distinct politician was her incomparable courage, sacrifice, determination, and unwavering spirit. Her traits remained her strength until the end.
Born into a well-off family, she received a quality education, a rarity for girls at the time, thanks to her loving and caring father. Her education included schooling at Thirumala Devaswom School, Thuravoor, and English School, Cherthala, and higher education at Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, and Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram. Her college days, especially her years at the Government Law College, had driven her to the Communist ideology. Later, she started practising law at a court in Cherthala and entered politics under the influence of her brother and trade union leader K. R. Sukumaran. According to her autobiography, she was made a member of the Communist Party of India by P. Krishna Pillai. Soon she fought her first elections in Travancore in 1948 and lost. The party was banned and she along with other members was incarcerated. Ms. Gouri who was initially lodged at the Cherthala police station was later shifted to Central Prison, Thiruvananthapuram.
Along with other comrades, Ms. Gouri defied adversities to build the party in the State. She created her own space and personality in a male-dominated political spectrum, becoming an inspiration for generations of women. She always stood and tirelessly worked for what she believed — be it the upliftment of the poor, fighting caste discrimination, rights of women, farmers’ welfare, and so on. When the Left Democratic Front with the support of various social organisations decided to organise the Women’s wall for gender equality and to protect the renaissance values in January 2019, following the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of women of all ages to Sabarimala, Ms. Gouri was among the first to declare her support.
On the day of the event, she stepped out of her house at Chathanad in Alappuzha to join the wall at Shavakottapalam, but she could not travel there feeling exhausted after walking a few steps. The former Communist firebrand was not ready to return to her home and asked her aides for a chair. She sat on the chair by the roadside in front of her house for more than one hour until the event concluded. She later said, “I took part in the women’s wall as it was for a good cause.”
That showed her determination for one of the causes she championed all through her life.
A woman icon of revolution, her life, which was bedecked with an illustrious political career, many struggles, and the fights that she waged are part of the history of modern Kerala and will inspire generations to come.
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