“Most of the people think divorce signifies erosion of values among women. I consider it as evolution,” observes P.K. Saru, psychotherapist and Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst. Saru, 71, is a symbol of fighting women for their rights, against a patriarchal society. “My strength is I apply what I teach in my personal and professional life and have evolved to be the person that I am today,” she proudly asserts. “Women at present are far better educated than in the earlier days. Many of them are employed and hence there is economic emancipation. Besides, there is a cultural change. Most of them are being treated very well by their parents and hence expect an equal treatment from their spouses as well. That is what I call evolution. But when such a response is denied to them, that ultimately ends up in divorce,” she explains.
“I was fortunate not only to be born in an affluent well-educated Muslim family to a judge of the Madras High Court but also to have an understanding mother. I was the only girl from Mapla community to have had college education in the three colleges in Calicut those days. Despite being an orthodox family, I was permitted to graduate in Economics and post-graduate in Psychology. It was a personal tragedy in my marital life that brought about a sea-change and made me what I am at present,” she remarks. She tells G. Satyamurty how she had the courage to move the Kerala High Court and fight an important case for the rights of women, her disillusionment with the functioning of the judiciary and how she turned into a counsellor, her decision to set up a Centre for Holistic Integrated Learning and Development (Child) and also Asha Counselling and Training Services more than a decade ago.
“Though I wanted to become a doctor, it became very difficult to do so as I am coming from a very well known feudal family. Ultimately I even completed the Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst course which is equivalent to doctorate in the US.” Apart from a Law Degree, she has Diplomas in Counselling and is a Master Practitioner in Neuro Linguistic Programming. Now she is a Certified Member of the International Transactional Analysts Association, San Francisco. Besides, she is a visiting faculty to various counselling centres. One of her important community activities is presenting papers on Muslim Personal Law and Empowerment of Women. Apart from being a “globe-trotter“, her major hobby is finding the “family roots”.
As her father Justice Kunhammed Kutty had a stint both as a Sub-Judge and also as District Sessions Judge in Coimbatore for quite some time before being elevated as a Judge to the Madras High Court, she was fond of Coimbatore and ultimately made it her centre of activities. “When I moved the Kerala High court for Muslim women’s rights, I was disillusioned. I found the legal system to be a road block. Justice still is one man’s perception.” Now her life revolves around helping, especially women, who face trauma. “What is required for them is a scientific counselling.”
The CHILD set up under the Asha Trust handles not only marriage-related issues, but also those relating to underachievers among children, those connected with low self-esteem and emotional conflicts of all varieties. She conducts even “therapy marathons” with international psychotherapists for personal growth and development. Similarly she conducts training programmes for International Certification in Transactional Analysis, both in Coimbatore and Bangalore. She organises training programmes on effective parenting, conflict resolution and other interpersonal developmental acreas. She participates in HRD workshops and conducts personality growth programmes and communication skills seminars for schools and colleges. She points out that psychotherapy is slowly becoming popular even in places like Coimbatore. “People are becoming more open. From just one client a week when we started the centre, it is getting three to four clients every day now.” Men should realise the changes especially among women-- culturally, emotionally and economically.
Ms. Saru asserts that the only way out from the current marital conflicts is to understand the “paradigm shift” in the attitude of both the genders and “respect each other. Women have stopped allowing themselves to be taken for granted. Unless both the parties see each other with respect, emotional turmoil will continue.” Ms. Saru points out that nuclear families are under stress. Even as the number of children per family is on the decline, though money is not a problem, the offsprings have no time to take care of their parents. Hence, there is a proliferation of old age homes.
Alzheimer is a disease which is identified in a number of families. “We are handling people who are tackling Alzheimer patients.” She asserts that there are no “problem children. There are only problem parents who expect their children to achieve whatever they could dream of. And their expectations break the children. I believe in providing counselling and psychotherapy only to the parents.” Ms. Saru expresses her deep apprehensions regarding the influence of television on children as this medium affects most of the sensory modes. “I am extremely perturbed to note the morbid violence shown onTV.”