The inspiring tales of two Chennai corporation staff who will receive special medals on I-Day

Here are the stories of COVID-19 warriors Jayasankar and Kalaiarasan who have gone beyond the line of duty to keep the city safe
Jayasankar E, a permanent corporation conservancy worker, Kalaiarasan S, corporation assistant engineer. (Photo | Express)
Jayasankar E, a permanent corporation conservancy worker, Kalaiarasan S, corporation assistant engineer. (Photo | Express)

CHENNAI: Jayasankar E, a permanent corporation conservancy worker, gave the lone scooter at home to his mechanic son, choosing to walk 20 kilometres every day from his house in Madhavaram to his workplace in Pudupet and back during the lockdown.

The 46-year-old, who fought and recovered from COVID-19 during this period, will receive the Chief Minister's special award on Independence Day.

"I would start walking from 3:30 am everyday to reach in time for the 6 am shift. It took me one and a half to two hours to reach work by foot. After work I'd come back walking again," said Jayasankar who works in ward 63. By the time he reached office, he would already be exhausted when the entire day's work of collecting waste was ahead of him.

While the city corporation had arranged a bus to pick up conservancy staff, Jayasankar said he did not take it because he was not sure of its timings. Whenever he did catch the bus, he ended up late to work.

Did it occur to him to use his annual leave on some days? "Not at all, I thought of it as my duty so I did it everyday," he said.

On May 21 this year, he tested positive for COVID-19.

"There were a lot of containment zones in the division I work in. Actually, I was not expecting to walk out of this pandemic without being infected. The risk was always there," he said.

'14 stitches and a fracture'

35-year-old Kalaiarasan S was at work at 12:30 am on April 20 when he briefly caught sight of a large stone that came for his head. He came out of the ensuing chaos with 14 stitches and a fractured wrist.

The corporation assistant engineer in division 102, Anna Nagar zone, was part of the cortège attempting to perform the last rites for Dr Simon Hercules.

An angry group of protesters had been protesting his burial, forcing the cortège to take his mortal remains from the Cemetery road burial ground in Kilpauk to the Velangadu burial ground.

Kalaiarasan will also receive the Chief Minister's special award on Independence Day.

"It was already late at night when I got injured. So I went alone and got admitted to a private hospital nearby. I didn't want to tell my family what happened," he said.

Kalaiarasan has two daughters, the eldest of whom is in Class 3. He joined the city corporation in 2014.

"With two young children, the family was already scared that I was going to work during the pandemic. So I didn't want to burden them more. I planned to tell them that I met with a bike accident," he said.

His family found out the next morning from the news on television. "But they're okay now. I returned to work in less than 20 days," he said.

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