TIRUCHY: What’s in a name? Juliet asked Romeo. Everything, the residents of Tiruchy’s Drainage Street say.
The name of the street, near the Srirangam railway station, has long brought with it shame, stigma and mockery, they say.
“We are ashamed to mention our address to anyone,” says Harikrishna, a resident of the street. “Even officials make fun of us when we tell them our address,” he complains.
The street is said to have been so named as the Corporation’s sanitation workers lived here. A sign of the vicious cycle of caste, occupation and stigma, most of those workers were Dalit. Even today most residents of Drainage Street are Dalits but many have moved to other occupations. The street’s name, however, ties them to a stigmatised past.
"Since most of the residents were sanitation workers at the time, nobody raised any objection. But now several people consider it a shameful address,” K Selvaraj, a senior citizen residing in the area, says.
“Earlier, some of the residents approached the Corporation asking the name be changed but since the authorities were not responsive, they have stopped asking," Selvaraj says.
“If some prominent people lived here, the Corporation would have surely changed the name,” says another resident.
Residents such as Harikrishna say they feel helpless. "Many of us are ashamed to say our address to an officer or anyone. Instead of saying Drainage Street, we try to say that we live close to the Sakthi Mariamman Temple near the Srirangam railway station. But, it is a temple and few are able to identify the location,” he says.
“So ultimately we have to say we reside in Drainage street.Even officials make fun of us when we mention the address but, we are helpless. Only top officials can change this," says Harikrishna.
"More than 100 families are residing on this street. Most of us have felt shame and stigma when telling our address to relatives or government officials," says Shanthi, a resident of 40 years.
“The corporation can change the plight of future generations by changing the name of this street,” she says.
Unfortunately, the Tiruchy Corporation, which is spending crores to build a ‘smart city, has ignored the residents’ concerns for several years.
In fact, some of the senior civic officials were unaware of the issue until The New Indian Express brought it to their attention. They have since assured that the name-change would be considered.
Meanwhile, some residents have expressed their resentment by damaging the signboard bearing the street’s name. Some have also painted the Tiruchy Corporation logo on the signboard black. A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, Juliet said. Not always, these residents counter.