THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: On any given day, you can see him near the entrance of the Museum, huddled on his four-wheel scooter. Many moons ago, it used to be the space from where Ronald A, a differently-abled street musician, would enthral the public with his music and earn a living.His modified scooter is fitted with an audio mixer and an amplifier. Ever since the start of the pandemic, the vehicle has become his home as well. Recently, the Thiruvananthapuram-based singer put up a few placards on the vehicle that showcased the hard time he has fallen to.
While one tells his willingness to sell his kidney and liver, another one declares that the singer in him has resigned and is waiting for his death. On the front of the scooter, another placard reads “I am hungry, please donate food”.
On Wednesday, Transport Minister Antony Raju visited Ronald after reading about him from social media posts. The minister directed the collector to give a report regarding the musician’s present situation. “One of Ronald’s sons is a kidney patient. I have asked him to furnish the medical records, and once we receive them, we can seek help from CMDRF. Another son is in jail. I spoke to the jail superintendent today. An advocate will be assigned to him.”
No family, no friends. I don’t know how to go forward, says Ronald
Ronald said he had been singing on the streets for the past 18 years. He used to earn a modest living from the donations given by the people.Wearing a worn-out jacket and a shabby mundu, the 59-year-old artist said the second wave of Covid dealt the sharpest of blows. “No one wants to come out of their home, and I haven’t been able to sing. Seeing my condition, some people donate money. With it I buy a meal and save it for the whole day,” Ronald said.
For the past two weeks, he has been going around the city displaying the placards. “I know it is against the law to advertise the sale of my kidneys. But my son requires a kidney transplant. Another son is in jail. When I can’t even earn money to buy a meal for myself, how can I help them? So I thought of selling my kidney to help them. And with the rest of the money, I am planning to buy half a cent of land, pitch my vehicle there and live,” he said.
He was once a watch mechanic and started singing when repairing watches no longer earned any money. “No one uses a watch any more. They look at their mobile phones to know the time. I started singing as that was the only thing I know. Karaoke tracks for over 5,000 songs are in here,” he said tapping on the box attached to his vehicle.
Things were going smoothly till a few years ago. Ronald was a popular street singer, and he used to sing in jail and shelter homes. And he used to be a regular presence in Shankhumugham and Museum where he could be seen singing old songs.Showing the old newspaper clippings about him, Ronald said he built a house using the money he earned singing on the street.But he had to sell it to help his daughter and sons. Left with nothing but a four-wheeled scooter that is rusting at its edges, Ronald has resigned to his fate. “There is no family, no friends. I do not know how to go forward,” he said.