Learning has liberated many lives. What is more interesting than a peaceful library at a peaceful place? The Muthuvan tribal community living in Edamalakkudy, one of the remotest hamlets in the Idukki district of Kerala, got their doors to learning opened in 2010. That year, two things happened in Edamalakkudy. It became the first hamlet in Kerala to have a tribal gram panchayat and second, a ‘library’ was established at a tiny tea shop at Iruppukallu area.
This is the only library in the world that you’d find in the middle of an impenetrable forested region, where one could only reach by foot till a jeep made its way to Edamalakkudy for the very first time in March this year. This library was mentioned at the Prime Minister’s Mann Ki Baath programme recently. Named Akshara, people come to the shop for tea and snacks and read the books or borrow them at a minimal fee.
The brains behind this brilliant idea are a tea shop owner, PV Chinnathambi and a teacher, PK Muraleedharan. Muraleedharan made Edamalakkudy his home 20 years ago to make education accessible to the Adivasi community. One of their evening discussions led to the establishment of this treasure house of knowledge. Classics, political works and books authored by famous Malayalam writers including Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, MT Vasudevan Nair, Kamala Das, M. Mukundan, Lalithambika Antharjanam amongst others found their place in this small library.
The world came to know about this interesting concept when one of the journalists, KA Shaji, put up a Facebook post, which led to a massive collection drive for about 1,000 books. Alongside, IV Babu, Mangalam editor, teamed up with his friends and donated an almirah to safeguard the books. In June 2017, the library was moved to a school there and the name Akshara was maintained.
A library is a common thing for all of us but for people living in the remote hamlet of Edamalakkudy, it is a privilege that is offering them a window into worlds far away from their own.