P Jayalekshmi recalls with pride how she had to call out the names of two former Kerala Chief Ministers, VS Achuthanandan and Oommen Chandy, and then of the present Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the state Assembly last year as 'secretary in charge' of the Legislature.
In the Legislature, it is the Secretary who swears in the MLAs. On June 2 last year, Jayalekshmi read out the names of the 139 MLAs, one by one in alphabetical order, for the swearing in -- the only woman in the six-decade long history of the state Assembly to have done so.
Jayalekshmi, who retires on May 31, is special secretary in the Kerala Legislature, and is retiring after 33 years of service in the Assembly.
Recalling her moment of pride, Jayalekshmi says, "I was very tense as I had to read the names of the MLAs in alphabetical order. My tension increased when I had to call the names of two former Chief Ministers - VS Achuthanandan and Oommen Chandy - and also the present CM Pinarayi Vijayan. It was a tough task for me, but I think I did it well." Jayalekshmi says that it was the "most glorious moment" for her in her 33-year official career.
She says that despite having such a lengthy career, it was only the second time on June 2 that she entered the floor of the Assembly, while it was in session.
"The only other occasion when I entered the House was when I had to get the signature of the secretary, who was seated inside the Assembly," the 56-year-old says.
Deciding on the post of legislature secretary vests with the state government. In Kerala, since 1984, except on two occasions, the post has always gone to a person holding the post of a district judge.
Jayalekshmi, who has authored six books, said her next book, a travelogue, is being released on Tuesday. She is also set to write about her service story in a vernacular magazine where she is expected to come out with interesting anecdotes from the Kerala Assembly.