Vulgar opulence was on display, as we passed bungalow after bungalow, driving on NH-17 from Kozhikode. Radhakrishnan (Roll No. 1114) and Shajan (Roll No. 1544) were with me; and Mr. Prabhakaran (Roll No. 401) and Dr. Ashish Bens (Roll No. 3393) would join us at Payyoli. We were going there to meet Rema on May Day with Mr. Manoj, the project manager of Nirmithi Kendra.
Rema had caught our attention through a write up in a local newspaper on the day the Malabar Chapter of OBA got together. We had resolved to do something for the society at large at the get together. The write up said that Rema, a handicapped lady lived in abject poverty and found solace in writing poems. Please look at the attachment for the entire article. We decided to check out its genuineness and entrusted Col. Sherry Peter (Roll No. 1377) with the task.
Sherry deputed Havildar Shaji from the NCC unit he commands and called back in a couple of days. Everything the newspaper said was true and Rema needed urgent help. Her shack, made of polythene sheets tied on wooden poles would not withstand the monsoon. She has a little plot of land on which she dreams of building a tiny house. Rema is looking for help.
Rema was awaiting us and smiled with a ‘Namaste’, as we arrived, struggling to balance herself. She must be touching forty five, an age when the average Malayali starts checking his cholesterol, amassed through a lazy and extravagant life style. Rema’s frail, limping frame is devoid of any fat and belies the social index Kerala proudly proclaims. The only physical features of prominence on her are the eyes and teeth. Starvation has not yet shrunk them. Her look and smile tell you a hundred tales; tales of rejection, apathy, poverty and helplessness that forced her in to a shack with her 83 year old, sick father.
Rema’s shack, a few kilometres away from PT Usha’sPayyoli, stands on four poles and a tree, in stark contrast to the bungalows we saw on the way. Old saris and polythene sheets are tied up to shelter Rema and her father, who greeted us with a feeble smile. Afflicted with TB in a state that claims world class medical standards, the old man has only one wish – a house to die in.
That is the dream house that Rema is struggling to build in a little waterlogged plot near her shack. She has managed to obtain financial help of One LakhRupees from Indira AawazYojana. It will be given to her in instalments, as she completes different stages of the house. The amount sanctioned in each stage is insufficient and will have to be supplemented with own funds, which Rema does not have. The first instalment was to be used to build up to the plinth. But it got exhausted in filling up the plot. Next instalment would be sanctioned only once the plinth is ready and walls built up to lintel level.
Rema will get stuck at all stages and will require financial help to complete the house as the amount sanctioned is grossly inadequate. Can we not help her out? Sherry has arranged for stones to build up the plinth. It will be built with help of Nirmithi Kendra. Some of us will offer Shramdaan. We plan to have the plinth ready and put up a temporary shelter atop to help Rema tide over the incoming monsoons. Then we will help out at each stage so that Rema finally has a house.
The plinth will cost about 25,000/- Rupees. Overall expenditure estimated to be incurred by us is Rs. 2 Lakhs. The Malabar Chapter of OBA solicits financial support from all the old students to help Rema build her dream house. Dr. Ashish will collect the funds and keep track of expenses.
Please remit whatever you can spare by electronic transfer to Dr. Ashish Bens, Savings Account No. 42212200101155, Syndicate Bank, Peravoor Branch, IFS Code – SYNB0004221. You may also forward cheques in favour of ‘Dr. Ashish Bens’ to Dr. Ashish Bens, Govt. Taluk Hospital, Peravoor, Kannur Dist., PIN- 670 673, Tel. 9447481181.
Hope all of us will come forward to help Rema build her dream house so that her father can die and she can live in dignity.
Ramesh Babu (888).