Living in the 21st century, we have witnessed so many powerful women achieving success at any point in their lives. But still, we somehow fail to acknowledge their effort and perseverance. There have been so many strong women who have shown their valor and courage but have never been appreciated or acknowledged in the public realm.
Today, every conversation at some point in time reflects the gender biases which are present in society and have been systemically causing oppression towards women. So, it becomes significant to appreciate, acknowledge and talk about those women who fought against the rudimentary norms and accomplished what they wanted to.
Saraswathy Rajamani is one such unacknowledged freedom fighter, who fought for India’s independence and has a great contribution towards our freedom. She is the youngest ever spy of the country and at the innocent age of 16, she smuggled secrets for the Indian National Army. She was born in Burma, present-day Myanmar, in the year 1927. It seems that nationalism was a part of their family virtues as her father was also an ardent supporter of the freedom struggle and had shifted to Burma, in order to escape imprisonment by the Britishers.
Source – www.timescontent.com
It is very evident that upbringing plays a very important in shaping one’s life and beliefs. Similar was the case with Saraswathy Rajamani. She grew in a liberal household and faced almost no restrictions from her family. She had the independence to experiment and explore the way she wanted. She was deeply patriotic and had met Mahatma Gandhi when she was just ten years old. Interestingly in a conversation with Mahatma Gandhi, she expressed her radical ideas of shooting down the Britishers.
As a child, she definitely did not know about the right or wrong course of action but it was evident that she had strong feelings for the nation. While she was growing up she started knowing about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army. She had always been a staunch supporter of the freedom struggle but it was the powerful words of Netaji that instilled the fervor in her.
There is a very important incident from her life which proved to be a turning point in her life and for the independence of India. Netaji visited Rangoon when the second world war as its peak, to recruit more volunteers for fighting against the Britishers. Unlike Gandhi, Bose had inspired people to take up arms and liberate India. Deeply moved by these words, Saraswathy donated all of her expensive jewelry to the Indian National Army.
Source – indiatimes.com
Interestingly, Bose had noticed her donating away all her luxuries towards the noble cause. The very next day, he went to meet Saraswathy and returned all her expensive jewelry to her father. Just then, Sarawathy resisted this and requested Netaji to accept all her donations. Bose was amazed by her dedication and feelings towards the nation. He told her “Lakshmi (money) comes and goes but not Saraswathy. You have the wisdom of Saraswathy. Hence, I name you Saraswathy.” This is how she got her name.
After this incident, she was recruited to the intelligence wing of the Indian National Army, along with her four friends. Camouflaged as boys, these girls started working at the military camps of the Britishers. They were responsible for secretly retrieving government orders and sensitive information and provide to the Indian National Army. Rajamani worked as a coveted agent for about two years but unfortunately, one of her friends was caught by the British. Saraswathy did not fear the consequences and went on rescuing her friend. She was intelligent and smart enough to dress up as a dancing girl, drug the officers, and rescue her colleague.
For her valor and extreme confidence, she was given a medal by the Japanese emperor along with the rank of Lieutenant in the Indian National Army’s Rani of Jhansi Brigade. We can see her as a true example of women’s emancipation from oppression and stringent social norms.
Source – indiatimes.com
But the sad part is that for a very long time, this freedom fighter lived alone in a small, one-room apartment in Chennai. The room was decorated with photographs of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. It was recently that the state government allotted her a house in Tamil Nadu. Despite the ravages of time and age, her love towards the nation has not withered. She collects rejected and old clothes and upcycles them into a new piece of cloth, which is then donated to orphanages.
It becomes our responsibility to never let such heroes fade away from the mainstream lives, as their hard work accounts to be highly significant. Especially when it comes to women, there remain so many such heroines who have not been acknowledged. For women, it is very difficult to walk shoulder to shoulder with men, so we must celebrate such women who had the courage and strength to do so, as they act as a source of inspiration for all the other women. Saraswathy Rajamani is one such heroine, whose exceptional bravery and intelligence deserve to be acknowledged and respected by all of us.
Written by- Gargi Singh