KunjanKutty,the ardent Patriot
Kunjankutty was a carpenter near my ancestral house in Pala.He was a regular visitor to our house.Though he was not an skilled worker,he obliged us whenever we sent a word.His day started by 5 30 am when he would walk from his house in an interior place to the public library in front of our house.He used to read all leading Malayalam newspapers like Mathrubhumi,MalayalaManorama, Desabhimani,Deepika,Janayugam,Kerala Koumudi,Express(fromThrissur )etc.Occassionally he would handle IndianExpress and Hindu also when we are also in the reading room,but invariably he held it in the inverted position as he did’nt know English.He used to read the Malayalam papers quite loudly so that we all could hear it.
By 7 30 am he would move to the nearby teashop for breakfast.(he took only a plain tea from his house.)After exchanging pleasantries with the fellow customers there during the eating process,Kunjankutty will go to the toddyshop where he had a private corner to keep his tools after the day’s work.He has his Party’s office in the adjacent building.He will give his LEVY to the party fund befor starting the day’s work.During party meetings or celebration of days for paying tributes to the leaders of yester years he used to donate liberally.
He will come to our house by 8 30 with his tools and 3-4 packets of beedi(local made )During his work if somebody goes there he will open some topic for discussion ,and no work will be done till the argument is over.By experience we learned to avoid chatting with him during his work..At times he will spoil the wooden planks given for the work as he may be brooding over some past incidents.Our father who was an expert in managing such occasions would suggest alternative use for the spoiled piece.
After the day’s work by 5 pm sharp , he will get his wages without any leniency.Once the money is received he is in a hurry.His first pilgrimage now is to the toddy shop where he will enjoy the local spirit and some nonveg.items.Nearly half of his income goes to the liquor shop.At times he will entertain a few friends also who have tolerated his sermons on politics and international matters.He wiill leave the School (School ,for him ,is the liquor shop )by 7pm along with his ‘schoolmates’ and move mechanically waving his hands to all passers by and shouting loudly.At times he may jump in front of a moving vehicle and get hurt.He manages to get some compensation from the vehicle’s owner which they will spend lavishly the next day. On way back to his hut he has his lottery friend ,whom Kunjankutty sees as Goddess Mahalakshmi’s messanger.He will buy 2 or 3 tickets of various drawdates.But he will buy only Kerala state lottery tickets.
Once I asked Kunjankutty about this wreckless spending of his hard earned money in liquorshops and lottery offices.Soon came the most convincing reply from the patriot who got the true justification from his party bosses.According to him Kerala government is in trouble and finds it very difficult to pay even the salaries of it’s staff.So it is his moral duty to help the govt by assuring a steady inflow into the treasuries.As excise dept .generates most of this income he becomes part of the state treasury.’If we don’t drink,you will not get your next month’s salary’ was his spontaneous response.With the same patriotic sense he bought only Kerala State lotteries.
I thanked Kunjankutty for his deep sense of patriotism.Last year the patriot got injured in a motor accident,was laid up for a few weeks and died .I hope more patriots will fill the vacuum created by Kunjankutty.