Mom-son duo don mechanics’ overalls to keep alive dream of departed

When Chottupara resident Gubendran alias Durai passed away in 2023, his wife and son took over the automobile shop ran by him.
Vijayarani and Nishanth engaged in painting a vehicle at their workshop at Chottupara in Idukki.
Vijayarani and Nishanth engaged in painting a vehicle at their workshop at Chottupara in Idukki.

IDUKKI: It’s common to hear of children following in their parents’ footsteps to become doctors, engineers, and even lawyers. But then there are always outliers. In the high ranges of Idukki, a deceased man’s wife and their son stepped out of their comfort zone to keep his dream of running his auto-mechanic shop, and have made a decent living out of it.

When Chottupara resident Gubendran alias Durai, who ran an automobile workshop along the Kollam-Theni highway, passed away in 2023, his wife Vijayarani decided to give up her job at a nearby cardamom plantation. Instead, the 46-year-old put on her husband’s overalls and headed out to work in the shop, where vehicles that ply the hills of Vandiperiyar and Kumily line up for repair and bodywork.

Seeing his mother’s willpower to singlehandedly shoulder the responsibilities, 20-year-old Nishanth G didn’t hesitate to join her. Now the duo runs the workshop with the knowledge they acquired from Durai and YouTube videos.

“My husband set up the workshop in Chottupara in 2004. Everything went fine until 2019 when a financial crunch left Durai unable to employ labourers. The Covid lockdown that followed further worsened the situation,” Vijayarani recounts.

For nearly four year, Vijayarani even stepped in to assist her husband with mechanical work.

Even during his last moments, Durai expressed the wish to see them running the shop, which acted as the fuel needed by the mother and son to reshape their lives.

“While I do the bodywork on two and four-wheelers, including four-wheel drives, pick-ups and auto-richshaws, Nishanth carries out repair and alteration work on two-wheelers,” she says. Vehicles that conduct off-road safaris in the hills are also regular at the shop.

Nishanth, who completed his plus-two, says that when his mother decided to run the workshop, employing an additional employee was something she could not afford. So he decided to quit his higher studies and help her out.

“I grew up watching my father work and learning from what he was doing. The rest, like crystal painting work, I picked up from YouTube videos,” he said.

Though he couldn’t study further, Nishanth says he is happy to have started earning from a very young age. “We had to learn to be self-reliant for our won sakes,” he stresses.

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The New Indian Express