THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On a rain-washed Thursday morning, Agnes sits on the classroom step, winnowing rice with two of her neighbours. “Nothing much has happened in the last one year, except promises which were not kept. We’re still here,” she said.
This week ushered in another southwest monsoon and a new academic year. But at the Government Regional Technical and Vocational Fisheries HSS in Valiyathura, little has changed. Twelve fishermen families shifted to the school five years ago following coastal erosion during the monsoon are still there, awaiting the promised houses and compensation. The families, comprising 12 women, 10 men and 15 children, are crammed into five rooms of a block. In the rest of the blocks, classes began on Thursday.
“We’ve been living here for five years,” Agnes told Express. “When the LDF Govt came to power, Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma told us on May 27 we would be given three cents, Rs 2 lakh and title deeds before June 27. When that got delayed, we met her. We were promised flats in six months. It’s now one year,” she said.
“They want us to move out now so they can construct a new block for the school,” said her neighbour Hridayamma Yesudasan with worry lines creasing her face. It’s a small world in the five classrooms. But it has witnessed events which would have otherwise been warm, joyful occasions back home. Two of the children born at the school - twins Athira and Abhilash - went to kindergarten for the first time on Thursday. Hridayamma’s daughter Lovely got married last month.
“Since we couldn’t have the function here, we held it at a relative’s place. Two other children who live here are going to have their first holy communion on June 18,” Hridayamma said.
Life here has never been easy and the monsoons offer a most difficult time. Predictably, space is at a premium. Cots, clotheslines, clothes, almirahs, fishing nets and even tricycles overcrowd the rooms. A portion of the roof at one end collapsed the other night, and it is yet to be repaired. “The village officer came and checked. But they really don’t want to listen to us,” rued Agnes.