My mother believed she didn't get KSEB job because she was non-political: Jackhammer Mary's son

Mary single-handedly operated the jackhammer, even when male workers sought assistance from others to operate it. Photo: Special arrangement.

Idukki: A job in KSEB was my mother's biggest wish, says Biju, the son of Mary Paily popularly known as 'Jackhammer Mary' who died on Monday. She was the lone woman labourer who took part in the construction of Moolamattam power station in Idukki.
Biju said his mother did not have any political allegiance and she believed that's why she was denied a job. She even tried to get one of her children a job in KSEB but in vain.

In 1962, Mary and Paily came to Moolamattam for the construction of an underground power station. They also did farming in Moolamattam on a small scale, but spent most of their time working on the construction of the power station. Biju said that after doing all the household chores and preparing food for the children, Mary went to work. '' My mother used to reach home after work before 6 pm. We used to help her with housework,'' he said.

The couple had four sons and one daughter. It was after completing the work on Ponmudi Dam that the family moved to Moolamattam searching for a job. In her old age she was often troubled by shortness of breath; a condition doctors attributed to inhalation of rock dust from continuous use of jackhammer. It was D Babu Paul, then Idukki collector and project co-ordinator, who named her Jackhammer Mary after being impressed by her industry and skill in handling a job of arduous nature.

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