KALLAR (KASARGOD): When Jenson Kurian got his disability pension arrears of six months, he did not think twice before donating the entire Rs 6,600 to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.
Jenson -- a well-built man of 35 years with a buoyant voice -- is confined to his bed for the past two years and a half years
after a fall left him paralysed from the chest down. "I know the amount is less. But it's not about the money. It's more about hope. Someone else will need it more than me during the lockdown and corona," says Jenson. "Moreover, I regularly get my kit of food provisions from friends and the panchayat," he says.
Jenson was not always an agent of hope. "I tried to exit several times but could not catch the bus," says Jenson, reflecting wryly at the "foolish" attempts to end his life.
Falling from the top and the rise
Jenson lives in a dilapidated house at Chuliyodi in Kallar panchayat and has to cross a narrow hill trail to reach it. He shares the house with his mother Leelamma Kurian, 60, and father V C Kurian, 65, who has been battling mouth cancer since 2011. In his younger days, V C Kurian worked in a granite quarry.
On the eve of Christmas in 2017, while walking home, Jenson slipped from the narrow trail and fell 15 feet down. He landed on his back, and a loose boulder fell from the same height and crashed on his chest. Since then, Jenson never had any sensation below his chest.
The fall shattered the young man's world.
He was working in the Gulf as a gas welder for six years but returned home because his father's health started failing. He started a cement brick making unit, took a Rs 5 lakh loan to repair his house, make a road to his house, and planned to marry his girlfriend of eight years when he slipped and lost his zest for life.
He tried to end his life thrice. After the first two attempts failed, Jenson used his contacts to hire a contract killer from Mangaluru. After hectic negotiations, Jenson brought down the 'quotation' to Rs 50,000, and he paid an advance of Rs 5,000 to the assassin. "The deal was to make it look like a suicide. The killer will have to tie the noose around my neck and push the wheelchair away," he said.
The killer asked Jenson to arrange the rest of the Rs 45,000 and phone him. One day, Jenson made the call. It was a Friday. The killer was expected to arrive in the night. "Since my room was outside the house, it was an easy hit job for him," he said.
For Jenson, it was the longest wait of his life. "I ate three eggs for dinner and waited for my death," he said.
The wait turned to hours and past midnight. "When I heard the rustle of the dry leaves, I thought it was my killer. But it was the breeze," he said.
During the wait for his death, a desire to live started growing in him. "I decided if the killer did not turn up, I will never attempt to end my life again. I will live," he said.
The next day, around 6 am, the killer called him. "He told Jenson that the Bekal police caught him for not wearing a helmet, and because of his suspicious behaviour, the police took away his phone and made him wait in the police station till morning. The killer offered to come Saturday night, but Jenson said no. "I asked the killer to recharge my phone for Rs 500 from the Rs 5,000, if possible. But he refused," he said, his wry smile reappearing.
Today, Jenson has new plans for his life. His friends bought him five cents of land on the roadside to build a house. "It will be a small house where I can move around freely without any assistance. I will also start a grocery shop which will be open 24 hours. People can come to me any time," he said.
But COVID-19 has dampened his plans a bit. The panchayat has no provision to fund the construction of my house because he is unmarried. "The panchayat gives money only to women or married couples," he said.
His friends working abroad were planning to help build his house, but now their jobs are under threat. "Yesterday, I slept at 4 am. (My friends) Anish and Anil were on a conference call from the Gulf. They were tensed of losing their jobs," he says.
Jenson does not sugarcoat his words but his friends lighten up after speaking to him, says childhood friend Vinil Joseph, who helps with his urinary catheter and wheelchair rounds. "Not just friends. He has the same effect on many in the WhatsApp groups for persons with disabilities," says Vinil.