KOZHIKODE: The state may not have forgotten Paleri Meethal Babu, 56, of Onchiyam in Vadakara, the English teacher who had to pick up the mortar-filled pan and shovel to eke out a living last year following job loss due to the pandemic. A year after, Covid has not subsided and he is into his fourth job, again thanks to Covid's hard blow on each and every sector. From being a teacher, he became a construction worker and a hotel supervisor before turning to the present job of a storekeeper.
The English teacher who taught prose and poetry to scores of students in his 30-year-long career in many parallel colleges in Vadakara and a self-financing college hopes that he can settle in the present job at least. "Now I am a storekeeper at Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society (ULCCS). I joined a
month back and is now positioned at the Changanassery office of the society's plant under which Alappuzha-Changanassery (AC) road work is progressing. I hope I can end my job hunt here and have peace henceforth," he told TNIE.
After he took up construction work in June last year for a month, the work demand dried up. He returned to teaching, visiting each household to give home tuition. The next job was that of an all rounder at a restaurant at Vallikad -- from supplier to supervisor. But none lasted long. "Work was very less in the
construction sector and whatever openings that were there were easily got filled by workers from other states. They are more preferred than us for their physical stamina," explained Babu.
Home tuition also came to an abrupt end as there were no Plus-One and Plus-Two examinations and parents weren't interested. The curtain came down on the restaurant job as only takeaways were allowed.
Babu had a previous stint with ULCCS in 1982 when he was just 18. "I used to fill jelly/crushed stones in the road construction work at Thottilpalam. My then co-workers are now directors of ULCCS," he said. ULCCS is one of the biggest labourer movements in the cooperative sector, which has many erstwhile labourers now in top positions.
When the story of their teacher carrying brick and mortar came to be known, his former students came to his aid by mobilising funds. The collected money was distributed among 20 parallel college teachers in and around Vadakara, who were also going through a similar plight. Babu still has to repay his home loan
and, luckily this year, his 24-year-old son landed a job, bringing much relief to him.