THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Meet 52-year-old Shihabudeen, a fish vendor in the Karamana market in the capital city. He entertains only those customers who follow the Covid-19 ‘Break the Chain’ protocol.
He boldly says ‘no facemask, no fish’ to his customers and asks them to wear facemasks and maintain the six-foot social distancing norm. Though such stipulations cost him some sales, he says that it doesn’t bother him considering the social responsibility he is undertaking.
“No facemask, no fish, I would tell customers. Some get amused and move to the next vendor. Some others appreciate the intended message, buy a facemask from nearby and purchase fish from me,” said Shihabudeen. As currency notes could become a carrier of the virus, Shihabudeen keeps a bucket of soap water beside him and dip his hands every time he accepts the bills from customers and gives the balance amount.
Asked what forced him to go for such stipulations, he said, “Each day, the chief minister and health department officials stress the need for preventing the virus spread. They are making these efforts for our safety. We must religiously follow the advice.” At the same time, he did not mince his words against those who are not wearing facemasks.
“They are not becoming a part of the effort to keep a great danger at bay. I often see customers who wear facemasks improperly. There are some who rest their facemasks on their neck and others who only wear masks upon noticing a police officer. Wearing facemasks should become our habit,” added Shihabudeen.
Shihabudeen, who resides at Ambalathara, wants other vendors to follow the ‘Break the Chain’ campaign. They should persuade the customers to practise the same, he added.
M P Anilkumar, convener, Campaign against Pseudoscience using Law and Ethics (an initiative of the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad), said, “The state’s tryst with Covid-19 has entered its fifth month. Despite the intensive campaigns for breaking the chain of virus transmission, there are still some people in the society who care less for their lives as well those of others around them. But Shihabudeen has set a model which is worth emulation by others.”