A 57-year-old Tamil Nadu woman disguised herself as a man for 30 years in order to raise her daughter alone ‘in a patriarchal society’. After she shared to truth, her incredible story has gone viral on the internet.
S Petchiammal was only 20-years-old when she lost her husband to a heart attack, 15 days after their wedding. She hailed from Katunayakkanpatti village, which had a dominant patriarchal society. Pechiyammal gave birth to a baby girl but had also started working to make ends meet.
But being employed was a problem for the woman in the patriarchal society of Kattunayakanpatti.
This led to Petchiammal being harassed by village folks. In an interview with The New Indian Express, the now 57-year-old said she had to become ‘Muthu’ after the demise of her husband.
Raising her child was proving to be difficult while she worked jobs at construction sites, hotels, and tea shops. The mother told the news publication that she faced harassment, sexual taunts, and hardships.
To put an end to her suffering, she went to the Tiruchendur Murugan Temple, cropped her hair, and changed her attire to a shirt and lungi. Petchiammal rechristened herself as Muthu.
“We resettled at Kattunayakkanpatti over 20 years ago. Only my close relatives back home and my daughter knew that I am a woman,” she told The New Indian Express. And that’s how she was for the next 30 years. Petchiammal said she was called ‘Annachi’ (a traditional name for a male) wherever she worked.
“I did all kinds of jobs, from working as a painter, tea master, parotta master to 100-day work. I saved every penny to ensure a safe and secure 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,” said the 57-year-old woman.
Patchiammal’s daughter, Shanmugasundari, is now married. But the 57-year-old is not ready to change her attire. She said her alternate identity ensured a safe life for her daughter. For this reason, she wants to remain ‘Muthu’ until her death. Petchiammal doesn’t own a house and can’t apply for a widow certificate. But she has managed to obtain a MGNREGS job card.