“I spent my early childhood in a tiny apartment. Appa was playing the villain in movies and amma had a roadside ice cream shop. There was less money but lots of laughter. My parents taught me the significance of hard work and simple living. I was never raised as a “star kid”. I can never fathom how people pay lakhs for a Louis Vitton handbag just to impress other people, my friends always tease me because I only carry jute bags.
I was a fussy eater and a skinny kid. My parents did not want to force-feed me as they felt I would develop an aversion to food if they did that. Appa used to feed me Paruppu Sadham and Poriyal on our balcony and talk to me about food and its therapeutic value. He would say “milk will make my bones strong and spinach would make my hair strong”, gradually I started eating and also got interested in knowing more about food and how it can heal disease. That’s how my interest in nutrition started.
Appa used to tell me that a self-centred approach to life will eventually make us feel empty and we should give back to society. He would tell me stories about “Puratchi Thalaivar” and “Thanthai Periyar”. My interest in politics started when I was in my early teens.
I grew up in a very broad-minded house. I am proud of the fact that I am a girl without a horoscope. I am not an intelligent girl but I am very hardworking. I am truly honoured to be among the top 3 nutritionists in India. I have been financially independent since the time I started practising as a nutritionist.
I was at a supermarket when I saw a lady buying expensive food for her pet. We walked out together. There were kids begging outside the store, but the lady ignored them and walked away. It is sad that a rich man’s pet is more nourished than a poor man’s child in India. Nearly 44% of the food served at lavish weddings is wasted. The fact that good health appears to be the privilege of the rich is unfair. Hunger is not an issue of charity but justice.
Nearly 52% of Indian children are undernourished and hence will not have the immunity to fight off deadly pandemics.
Mahilmathi lyakkam is an effort to combat malnutrition among the lower-income groups. We identify areas where access and awareness of healthy food are lacking and distribute nutritious food free of cost. I wanted a Tamil name for my movement, I thought Mahilmathi was perfect because my mom’s name is Mahi and the name was also used in #Baahubali. I’m glad that amma and Appa are connected to my movement.
Mahilmadhi Iyakkam is not a political movement, it is a people’s movement. I will join politics soon. My dream is to build an ethical and transparent healthcare system that brings hope and healing to people in the lower income group. I will work selflessly for the health and happiness of my people.”