Have you seen a living statue? Well, meet Syed Basha from Chittoor, who was spotted posing in the busy bazaar, here on Friday.
The 83-year-old man had painted his body with a thick coating of aluminium paint and posed as a statue of Gandhi.
“I thought a statue of Gandhi was installed in the wrong place,” said a passerby, who realised his folly only when the ‘statue’ moved suddenly.
Some autorickshaw drivers said they had been seeing this ‘Gandhi’ for quite some time. ‘He is quiet, always smiles, stands still in the crowd and accepts offerings from the impressed passersby with a ‘salaam’.
Syed keeps a hundi to collect offerings from people. Sometimes people give him food in appreciation of his efforts to replicate the Father of Nation. He moves from one town to another and sleeps on the roadside during the night.
From his childhood, Syed was attracted to the Gandhian philosophy. “I have shaken hands with Gandhi and I always wanted to follow his ideologies,” Syed said.
In his 20s, Syed joined a street theatre team in Chittoor, where he used to play roles of patriotic leaders, especially Gandhi, which prompted him to make a living posing live a statue of Gandhi.
He coats himself with aluminium paint so that he does not have to apply fresh makeup everyday. “For the past 50 years I have been doing this and now this has become my habit and my livelihood,” Syed asserted.
He said he had travelled to over 100 cities across the country on foot and had taken part in national festivals such as Independence Day, Republic Day, and Gandhi Jayanthi, by posing as a statue of Gandhi.
He said he believed that this brought joy to the local community. “Children are fascinated when they see me,” he said.
Syed had come to Vellore to celebrate Ramzan as some of his Muslim friends had invited him.
With contributions he received, he had married off his three daughters, although he was not able to educate them well. “Neither do I harm anyone, nor do I beg. I earn my living with hard work,” he said.
“The paint causes no harm to me. I have been painting myself for about 50 years and I have no skin problems or any other health issues,” he said, with a smile.