Not a cup of Tea

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An unemployed 23-year-old graduate, Tamil Arasan, who was forced to beg turned a chaiwala for a living. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he fed scores of poor and homeless people, making him a role model for others
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Tamil Arasan, a native of Thoothukudi district, lost his parents at the age of two. Sheltered in an orphanage at Aruppukottai, he completed his schooling. During his school and college days, this orphan boy took part in reality shows and literary debates and earned fans. With a small income as a token appreciation, he could pursue undergraduate studies. After graduation, he moved to Chennai in search of a job and dreams. Many days he could not get any food. One such day, he lost his bag containing belonging including certificates which he used as a pillow. For nearly two years, this vagabond wandered Chennai streets, roads for money to feed. Fed up with this scrounging and wanted to earn with self -respect, he travelled back to Madurai. Madurai Railway station became his resting place at nights, and by sponging, he could save some money. He was also picking rags to earn money. He was not allowed to sleep at the Railway station. At Alanganallur, famous for annual Jallikattu sport, he was stranded due to Covid- 19 lockdown. He said “Due to lock down all shops were closed. I have only Rs.1,000 saving. I took on rent a bicycle and a tea-can, bought milk to brew tea. After making chai, I peddled around Alankanallur, Mettupatti, Pudupaptti to sell chai both morning and evening daily. I gave tea free of cost to who can’t offer. Slowly my income started growing with a daily balance of two thousand rupees. I bought and distributed free food daily to 40 -50 need people initially. Later I cooked at a rented home and started distributing to 40 people. When the government announced relaxations, I got new clients (offices, workshops, companies). This helped me to give free food to people on the roadside. I give breakfast for 10, lunch for 10 and dinner for 10 people daily. Single women Suryakala in Sholinganallur with two children were struggling without income. On hearing her plight in social media, I bought her a sewing machine, after ascertaining her poverty. Now people are offering me a job which I rejected. If I get a job for my selfish motive, who will take care of people who are depending on me. I want to help more people by starting a tea shop and restaurant. I like to sell food for Rs 20. I have been already at that job. I could not get a bank loan as I have no collateral to provide to them”.