Thiruvananthapuram: Every day for the past three years, Sashi G has been digging a road outside his home in Kerala. It was not an ordinary task for the 59-year-old coconut climber, who is partially paralysed.
Sashi was bed-ridden after a fall from a coconut tree 18 years ago in Thiruvananthapuram. Over the years, his right arm and leg were left paralysed and he could walk only slowly.
To make ends meet, he pleaded with his village panchayat or council for a three-wheeler so he could start a small business. He was reminded that there is no road near his home on the rural outskirts of the city – just a narrow trail.
His petitions for a road were met with derisive laughter or blank stares in his village. “The Panchayat told me there is no point of giving you a vehicle as you are paralysed. They assured me a road which never happened,” Sashi said.
So he started digging. And hasn’t stopped. For six hours every day, using his pick-axe, he has been digging away at a plateau that people were forced to climb. The result of his incredible will-power is a 200-meter ‘kaccha’ road, wide enough for small vehicles.
“I just kept digging because people thought I couldn’t. I thought if I kept digging, I will get a road and it will also be physiotherapy,”Sashi told NDTV. “Even if the panchayat doesn’t give me a vehicle, at least people will have a road in the future,” he says.
52-year-old Sudha, Sashi’s neighbour, is grateful to him for the road. “It has become so much easier now. We don’t have to climb that huge plateau. I used to worry seeing him dig for hours. Now I am awe-struck.”
At one point while sharing his story, Sashi tears up. His wife starts weeping too, anxious about their future. “I begged him not to dig like this. If something happened to him again, we won’t have any money to treat him. We are heavily in debt. Now everyone talks about the road being built but what about us?”
Composing himself, Sashi forces a smile. “It will take me another one month to finish digging this road but panchayat is yet to give me my three-wheeler”.