When the waters gets rough, don’t give up. Rekha Karthikeyan truly believes and follows this motto literally and figuratively. Rekha is the first fisherwoman in India to get a license for deep sea fishing. The 40-year-old, who lives with her husband and four children, in coastal Chettuva south of Guruvayur, Kerala, shares that she is overjoyed to be honoured by The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) for excellence in deep-sea fishing, a conventionally male dominated profession.
Rekha recalls how 12 years ago without knowing how to swim, she first ventured into the deep sea with her husband, K V Karthikeyan. “The sea takes unexpected turns in a matter of minutes and one needs to be alert all the time to ensure one’s safety. It teaches you life lessons every moment. I started going to sea to support my husband, it was hard in the beginning—the first time I vomited continuously for three hours until I started coughing up blood. But I was determined to keep at it for my family,” recalls Rekha.
Narrating an incident, Rekha, who originally hails from Koorkenchery in suburban Thrissur says, “I usually do not sleep on the boat as I am always alert—the fear of not knowing how to swim is another factor that keeps me awake. Once around midnight, I saw a light coming towards us from a distance. It was actually another boat speeding towards us. I screamed with all my might and one person in the other boat heard me. All of them had been sleeping and they managed to veer the boat away from us just in time, and we escaped with just a scrape on the side. They sped away without even stopping to find out what happened to us.”