‘Unky’, as he was popularly known, died when the last vicious bacteria dug deep into his tuberculosis lungs. He was known to everyone but lived a very unpopular life. He staggered along the village road in drunken stupor. Stretched his arms for his insatiate thirst for alcohol. The inevitable happened at the age 54.
As a young man he pulled and pushed handcarts full of Monday Market provisions in huge gunny bags. Carried on his back, quintals of dry fish, and pushed them into huge National Permit Trucks. All the while he enjoyed the drunken enrichments of the adulterated toddy, consumed in large quantities from his favourite Athirampuzha ‘Shaap’. During the day he had his fists full of wet currencies smelt of sweat and salt but by evening, he staggered back home with an empty pocket.
In the last days of his life, when he was no more able to pull handcarts and coughed up crimson phlegm, many people who knew him in Athirampuzha sympathetically placed a few coins in his palm as he walked his unsteady steps to his self determined destiny. God had pity on him and he died in his peaceful morning slumber this morning.
He had a very beautiful wife, married after a relationship of courtship, who gave birth to his two kids, a boy and girl. When she could no longer stand his drunken madness and abusive ways, she gave up and ran away, never to return. Both his children did well enough to settle in life comfortably. May be, somewhere in his heart he had a glitter, that made people sympathise for him. I know that he was a loving father, who told me once….”I have not been able to give them any thing but God looked after them.”
There is a tinge of pain in my heart when I think of him because I would often see him and he would always speak to me with a spirit of warmth and smile. May be, society needs to take serious stock of such people. May be, we have a greater responsibility as social beings.