KOCHI: In the times of Covid-19, everybody is doing his/her bit for the society. Like 65-year-old MV Sudha who runs a tea stall at Thammanam-Pullepady Road. She has been helping out a 60-year-old man from Andhra Pradesh who sharpens knives for a living.“The first time I saw him, I was afraid. He looked unkempt and dangerous,” she said.
But, slowly she realised that he was just there because he had nowhere else to go. According to her, G Masthan has been earning a living in the city for the past 30 years by sharpening knives. “The day before the lockdown began, he had gone on his rounds as usual. Since he was on the roads, Masthan didn’t know about the announcement made by the government,” said Sudha.
When he returned to his lodgings, that he shared with 10 others, Masthan was surprised to find the door locked and all his roommates absent. On enquiring, he was told that the others had already left for their home state. So, Masthan too rushed to the railway station. “But, couldn’t find any trains going towards his native place. So, he returned dejected and since then has been living on the streets,” she said.
According to her, realising that he had no one to help him, Sudha began getting food packets for Masthan. “Food packets are distributed here every day. So I get one for him, besides supplementing it with fish or meat as a treat. He sometimes brings in an egg or two, which I fry for him,” said Sudha. According to her, he still goes out in search of work. “But with lockdown in force, he doesn’t find any,” she said.
“Sometimes people pity him and give him some money. I think he spends this to buy eggs,” she said. According to her, Masthan spends the day at her tea stall and sleeps under a tree at night. “When it rains, he sleeps on the shop steps nearby,” said Sudha who herself is under the threat of getting evicted. “My husband and I used to run a hotel,” she said. But after an accident left her husband unfit, they had to let go of the hotel. Now, Sudha lives in a ramshackle structure.
“I don’t have the necessary papers and also I am a senior citizen, so nobody is interested in giving me a loan. Even the ‘ayalkoottam’ is hesitant,” she said. “I don’t want much. A small loan would suffice that will help me buy a roofing sheet to replace the worn-out ones. The monsoon is coming and I am afraid for our shack, which won’t be able to bear the brunt of the downpour. Please let the Chief Minister know of our plight,” she pleaded.