June 25, 2019
Kochi: Mahalingam of Salem owns plots worth huge amounts in the heart of Salem city.
But he is humble and wears an ordinary look. His ancestral land has not whipped up his ego as he is a humble and hardworking man.
His appearance and standard of living do not match with the wealth he possesses in his native place.
Wearing a worn-out railway refreshment vendor’s uniform, Mahalingam is in Kottayam railway station spending most of his time in the second platform of where he has a refreshment shop.
His day begins in the wee hours before the Kottayam-Ernakulam passenger leaves at 5.20 am.
He wears a sleepy look as he hits the bed very late for he cannot close the shop before past 10 pm.
He is supported by his wife who too is over worked as the couple does not have a caretaker.
On occasions when Mahalingam or his wife has to travel to Salem, they take the help of someone from Tamil Nadu working in other refreshment stalls. This was because they offer help at a small remuneration, he told The Covai Post.
Normally, they do not go to Salem together. Last time, his wife rushed home when his mother fell ill and was in ICU. She visits Salem once in a month to have a glimpse of their boys studying in Grade XII and IX.
On why they were struggling to live after having so much land in Salem, Mahalingam said he was doing business to earn his bread. He is used to it and he does not know any other means to earn. His sons are studying in an English medium boarding school in Salem.
The expenditure towards their studies is huge with fees for one son alone needing about Rs 1.1 lakh annually.
The couple has been in Kerala for about 15 years and have operated shops in stations including Aluva.
Mahalingam’s wife says that despite all the hard work, they struggle to earn a living. There are days when it is not even break even. Besides, Mahalingam is very poor in maths and always ends up paying more to passengers, she says. This has made her stay in the shop whenever possible.
If things turn out to be bad, they would wind up their business and return to their native place.