Unfortunately his father died within a year of Kamaraj’s enrollment in school. Kamaraj’s mother sold all jewelry except her earrings and deposited the money with a local merchant and cared for the entire family on the monthly interest that the money earned.
Kamaraj was not a good student in school and dropped out when he was in the sixth grade. When he entered mainstream public life he felt handicapped and realized the importance of a good education. He educated himself during his periods of imprisonment and even learned English from his co-worker.
Kamaraj joined as an apprentice in his maternal uncle Karuppiah’s cloth shop after dropping out of school. He would slip out from the shop to join processions and attend public meetings addressed by orators like Dr. Varadarajulu Naidu and George Joseph. His relatives frowned upon Kamaraj ‘s budding interest in politics. They sent him to Thiruvananthapuram to work at another uncle’s timer shop. Even there Kamaraj participated in the Vaikom Satyagraha led by George Joseph, of the Congress, against the atrocities of the higher caste Hindus on the Harijans. His elders had him called back home and pressured him to marry. Kamaraj resolutely refused to bow to the dictates of his elders.