The indomitable Mrs. YGP
Rajalakshmi Parthasarathy is an exemplary woman with many talents. She has left her mark in journalism, theatre, social causes and restoration of temples, besides playing a pioneering role in education. The school she started, Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB), has grown into a reputed group of institutions of higher secondary education in Chennai today. Her life is, however, a larger canvas beyond education, and her contribution to art and culture equal her promotion of the cause of education. She has been a quiet catalyst behind the outstanding achievements of many men and women she spotted and nurtured.
Rajalakshmi chose to bask in the shadow of her late husband Y.G. Parthasarathy, a passionate practitioner of Tamil theatre, popularly known as YGP. Many people know her therefore as Mrs. YGP without the least idea of her given name. A prominent vermilion mark on her forehead and hairline, sparkling eyes behind spectacles, a cheery, confident voice and her grit and energy bely her age. She was the first woman journalist to enter the portals of The Hindu, “the staid and sedate newspaper”, as her biographer Lakshmi Devnath puts it in A Class Apart, a biography of Mrs. YGP. She was just 25 when as Rashmi, she provided comfort to anxious women in an agony aunt column What Should I Do? in Sport & Pastime (1948 - 1967), a weekly of The Hindu. Donning another pseudonym ‘Jalak’, she wrote in Tamil for Kumudam and as ‘Sumangali’ for Swadesamitran. Women’s Corner was her column providing a rational slant to women’s issues. She also wrote on fashion trends, in Sport & Pastime, under the nom-de-plume Rashmi.
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