by Richard Lasrado from Bantwal
Additional inputs from Kishore BC Road
pics Karthik, BC Road
Posted at 2-00 pm
Bantwal, Jul 21: The man is all to himself. But he answers all queries and questions intelligently. He does not seem to have any communication problem.
The guy sits under the new flyover at Bantwal Cross (BC) Road junction, doing his job of mending umbrellas diligently, to the total satisfaction of the clients.
With monsoon around, he is the most sought-after person. This is the time when umbrellas and parasols lying in old boxes and attics all these months are coming out. The rusty joints and snapped stitches of used umbrellas, needing fixing, get an immediate solution if brought to him.
Not many people know much about him. Yet, he has been doing his job, serving people from all walks of life for about a decade now. In modern times, with education, there are less people to do odd jobs. But here is a man who believes in the dignity of labour.
Asked about his personal details, much reluctantly he makes a clean breast of it. He claims to be Raju Shetty, hailing from Kavoor in Mangalore. His parents are Parashuram and Girijamma. After the death of his parents, he got married to Sushila from Kundapur. A few years and two daughters later, she died of tuberculosis.
Now the children are being looked after by his sister-in-law, Sushila's elder sister. He has a terrible complex about his habit of drinking. That is why he says he has kept his children safely away. He even says he is ashamed to show them his face. But in the past ten years, there is not a single instance of his having created any nuisance anywhere.
He had two younger brothers. One of them died of a fall while cycling. The other got married and moved over to Chennai and has not been heard of ever since.
To a question on how life has treated him, Raju philosophizes: "We are petty humans, who would ultimately become one with the earth of 6ft X 3ft dimension. Living with virtues and values is more important than sitting on a heap of riches." Any enquiry about him elicits a good opinion from the general public and that has given him utmost satisfaction.
These are the days when thieves and burglars come in different forms and guises. They do odd jobs during daylight hours, also a survey and feasibility study of houses and shops and nightly loot convenient places. Raju does not have any identity problem. He is looked at with concern and respect by the public. For, especially during the rains, he is everyone's Man Friday, having earned everyone's trust and, as a result, good reputation. He makes a living for himself, a blind aunt of his and three dogs he so fondly cares for. He does part-time rag-picking also for the sake of raw material.
Maybe some people find his looks eerie - wearing a cap, sporting a long patch of vermillion on the forehead and a cross in the neck. He believes in a universal religion and says it is the same God who looks after everyone. People from all religions have helped him, he gratefully admits. He makes it a point to attend the Attur feast every year to prove his secular credentials.
Something striking about the man is his another addiction - the radio, an inseparable part of his life and persona. He avidly listens to music and follows news and events.
As we depart, we take a parting shot as to why he cannot give up his bad habit, have a better life and make a home of his own. There could be people who would willingly help him in the mission. With a sigh of meek despondency, he says he has lost all hopes in relatives and life itself. He wants to live as long as he is destined to.
Well, c'est la vie, folks!
Author's Archives - selections: