S Ram Prasad is Nepalese by birth. Hailing from Bharatpur, situated some 146 kilometres from Kathmandu, Ram Prasad, like any Nepali, came here in search of a job when he was only 18.
Now working as a security man at Chithranjali theatre, Aluva, owned by the KSFDC, Ram Prasad has been shaping the lives of hundreds of people by teaching them karate.
Coming to Thiruvananthapuram in 1981, Ram Prasad had no difficulty in finding a job at Chithranjali Studio, Thiruvallom, as a security man. After his duty hours, he devoted a good chunk of his time learning karate from Ishaq Mohammed Hussein and later from Josh Rajan, masters of International Gerikai Karate School.
And he earned his black belt 15 years ago. Ram Prasad was agile, strong, powerful and, above all, well-read in karate and yoga, which he studied from an ashram at Neyyar Dam. He could have easily earned some quick bucks by selling his art as many of his contemporaries do. But this ‘brahmin’, whose father is a religious scholar, brushed aside all attractive offers and decided to swim against the tide. Now, he is teaching martial arts to more than 1,800 students in Thiruvananthapuram.
“From childhood, I was interested in martial arts. So after coming here, I learned a little bit of kung fu, kalaripayattu and ‘nadan payattu’ before concentrating fully on karate. Everyone should learn the art as it is good for their health as well as security. My philosophy is that no one should be turned away because they can’t afford the fee. That’s why I have been giving free classes for destitute, blind, physically challenged and government school students, especially girls,” says Ram Prasad, who is also known as Ram Bahadur among his friends.
This 53-year-old trainer’s words are supported by one of his black belt students, Vijil Nimesh. “I have seen him granting fee relaxation to many needy students. Even those who earned black belt from him where given permission to remit their fee in several instalments which is quite unlikely in the martial arts world, where money rules the roost,” he says.
In the wake of the recent Delhi gang rape incident, Ram Prasad is planning start free classes for girls. “They should learn martial arts as it could help them defend aggression,” he says.
His service is so selfless that he could not manage to build a house of his own. He owns everything, from ration card to Adhaar card, but not a house.
"The family depends solely on his income. So, how can we dream of a house of our own here?’’ asks Ram Prasad’s better half, Kala Devi. Their two children are studying in Nepal while the youngest, 11-year- old Himal Acharya, is studying here.
There are only five more years of service left for Ram Prasad before retiring. “Once I retire, I will have to return. Then I will hand over the classes to my senior students. The rest they will have to take care of,” he says.