About Sarah Chakko
"...Sarah Chakko, who was about to leave the college in a moment of defeat and discouragement but bowed with me in prayer under a tree on the campus and surrendered herself to Christ again and was made over, to become one of the great women of India..." - E Stanley Jones, A Song of Ascents
The caste system was at its peak when Sarah was growing up and Christian students only attended Christian schools. However, her father M.A. Chakko and a few other Christians campaigned for the right of Christian girls to attend the government schools, where only Hindus were allowed. They won and she and her older sister Mary began attending the Victoria Jubilee Memorial Girls' School where they had the opportunity to interact with Hindu girls.
Sarah's father Chakko's outlook was modern and liberal, however, on some matters he was still very conservative. When she expressed a desire to attend the government boys' school (since science was only taught there), he did not allow her to and so she had to give up her dream of becoming a doctor.
Sarah Chakko's Timeline
Trichur, Kerala, India
When they were children, Aby (MC Abraham), George (MC George) and Sarah (their younger sister) had an argument one afternoon over whose handwriting was the best. They agreed that they should each write a paragraph and submit it to Pappy (M.A. Chakko) to judge. As soon as they were finished, they raced up to his office room and waited for his decision.
At that time, M.A. Chakko was District Magistrate and was writing up his judgment in a very weighty case. But he stopped to look over their work and ruled in favour of Sarah's handwriting.
Sorely disappointed, Aby and George soon began an argument with Sarah in the study downstairs. Words were exchanged and George shook an inkwell over her face and clothes. The chaos that ensued brought Pappy running down the stairs.
A spell of silence followed and was broken by Pappy. He took George to his side and said "I expected better from you, George, than to behave this way towards a lady." George's apology was tearful and heartfelt and a short while later the three had forgotten their dispute.
It was then decided to set up a Family Court - complete with clerk, lawyers for the defence and the prosecution and a judge whose verdict had to be respected. Anyone who felt that they had been mistreated had the right to lodge a complaint. The court sat every evening to hear complaints, examine witnesses and give verdicts. The proceedings were carefully recorded and an example follows:
"It has been brought to the notice of the court that George, son of Mr. Chakko, insulted his sister Sarah by sticking his tongue out and otherwise making funny faces at her. After examining the witnesses, the court is satisfied that the accused George is guilty of this misdemeanor towards a lady and therefore decides that he be subjected to the punishment of standing facing the corner for ten minutes and be deprived of his share of roasted cashewnuts for the day. If the punishment is not complied with, the accused is to suffer the loss of two days' cashewnuts."
If the verdict called for corporal punishment, it was administered by one of the parents but the lesser punishments were carried out by the children themselves. Thus disputes were settled amicably and family ties were forged through this practice of fair play.
February 13, 1905
Paravoor, Ernakulam, Kerala, India
January 27, 1954
Lucknow, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India