TIRUCHY: Remember pettaikaran in the Dhanush-starrer Aadukalam? P Selvaraj is Tiruchy’s very own pettaikaran who was very popular in his heyday.
Selvaraj’s family arrived in Tiruchy from Burma (now Myanmar) decades ago. From 1980, he developed a passion for bodybuilding and rooster fights. Several old gyms in Tiruchy and Thanjavur still display pictures of a toned ‘Weight’ Selvaraj, as he was known then. He currently resides near TVS tollgate.
Selvaraj stopped participating in rooster fighting competitions in 2016, but has not stopped training his troop of seven fighter birds.
In his seventies now, Selvaraj runs a stage or panthal decoration business. Orders vanished because of the lockdown and his only source of income is the rent for three pushcarts.
Despite the difficult situation, he is facing, Selvaraj ensures his roosters get a protein-rich diet daily. He believes that coronavirus would be defeated one day but his roosters cannot remain idle till then.
“At one time, I had hundreds of birds and several students passionate about fighting roosters. I would train a student only if he took good care of the bird.
The birds are like my children and we have to take good care of them. So, even if there is a pandemic, I have to make sure they stay fit as I love them a lot,” he said.
This passion made him popular even in film circles. “Whenever there was a cockfighting scene in movies, people would approach me for advice. I am sure movies with rooster lovers would again come back on the big screen after this pandemic,” he said.
Finding almonds, dates, eggs and other protein-filled foods for his favourite roosters every day is not that easy in the lockdown.
“I am sure this situation would continue for some time. Even if I face financial challenges, I would not change the diet and training of my roosters. Every day, they get a nice body massage and protein diet. They are my warriors and coronavirus has not stopped me from training them,” said Selvaraj with a smile.
He said, “I used to tell my students that they should take care of the birds under all circumstances. So, whatever be the circumstances, my roosters are my responsibility. The spread of coronavirus may further affect my livelihood, but whatever the situation, my birds would get the best protein diet. I am sure all animal lovers feel the same way. These creatures are also our responsibility and we should not abandon them due to the spread of coronavirus or any other reason.”