Kuttiyamma Konthi, 106, receives her award at the DCW event in New Delhi on Saturday. (HT PHOTO)
Eighteen-year-old Habiba Masood and her younger brother Nehad Masood, 16, prevented a child marriage in Delhi last year. On Saturday, they were awarded at an event organised by the Delhi Commission for Women for their timely intervention and saving a girl from the forced marriage.
The siblings are based in the city. Recounting details of the event last year, Habiba said, “Through our domestic help, we came to know that a minor girl was being coerced into marriage. We didn’t know the exact location of the wedding venue, but I asked my brother to find out from his friends and visit areas in the neighbourhood. After several attempts, we found her address and reached the venue where the marriage was supposed to take place. We immediately contacted the Delhi Commission for Women, and they assigned a counsellor who heard us and helped us out. ”
She said that while she and her sister were not sure if they will be successful in stopping the forced marriage, keeping quiet was not an option. “The girl was only 16 years’ old and was being pushed into the marriage against the prevalent laws. She was only a year younger to me, and I knew that something had to be done. The marriage was eventually called off,” she said.
Accepting the award presented by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Habiba hoped that the act would inspire others to speak up in the face of unfairness.
106-year-old Kuttiyamma Konthi was the oldest woman to receive the DCW’s women’s day award on Saturday. At the age of 104, Kuttiyamma Konthi appeared for the Kerala District Literacy Examination in 2021 and secured 89% marks. A native of Kottayam, Konthi scored 89 out of 100 marks in the examination to qualify for the Class 4 equivalent test of the state’s Saksharata (literacy) mission. On Saturday, she was awarded by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for her efforts.
Konthi flashed a toothless smile as she was thronged by other awardees for selfies and blessings. “I am happy to receive an award at this age,” said Konthi in Malayalam, while her family members translated her message for others.
Her grandson Biju MG said that Konthi undertook the first flight of her life from Cochin airport to reach Delhi. “She traveled in a plane for the first time in her life to arrive at Delhi for the award ceremony. Like a child, she was admiring the view from the plane window and enjoying the journey. While younger people like us had the usual troubling sensation in our ears due to air pressure, my grandmother was unperturbed and having fun,” said Biju.
Konthi lives with her son and grandchildren in Thiruvanchoor. Even at 106, Konthi’s memory continues to have sharp memory which she attributes to her healthy lifestyle and environment.
“Clean air and a healthy lifestyle have helped her to remain fit even at this age. She loves to have rice and black coffee and chat with people. She recognises people instantly at the first glimpse and then calls out the entire family chart. Two years ago, when she was approached by teachers for the examination, she took up the offer enthusiastically and even prepared for the exam with sincerity,” said Biju.
Back home, Konthi is a celebrity with people from far and wide coming to visit her. “She enjoys the attention she gets from everyone and even encourages others to study. People who come to visit her say that she inspires them because she was taking up new challenges even after completing a century,” said Biju.