“Anumuthu get up! Its 5:30 the sun is raising up, we have to walk far and will be late for the work”, this was the regular call of my mom. I remember many times waking up with loud cry and refusing to go with her for the work but yet I would go by understanding her love and the responsibility to feed the family.
My father was a woodcutter and mother housewife. Although we did not have much, yet we were a happy family. My sister and I used to enjoy playing throughout the day and eat every time we were hungry. Unexpectedly, all of sudden my father died. Our family saw instant transition, the whole family responsibilities was passed to my mom’s shoulder.
My mom had never worked in any profession before. We had no property to sell that could provide funds to live; neither did we have relatives to help us. Therefore, my mom and I started working as a daily laborer, every day from 6 am to 2 pm in the farm. I was just seven year’s old, working among adults in the hot sun and was expected to yield the same harvest with everyone. This was very difficult task for me especially during cotton harvest, because the cotton thorn would scratch my soft skin and it would hurt me so much I would cry during night long. At the end of day our hard labourer work would fetch Rs.6/- for my mom and Rs.4/- for me. This Rs.10 had to feed four people three times a day. Rice water and pickle was the daily food. Many nights we slept with an empty stomach. My family and I used to long for good food; however, this was an impossible dream.
At the age of 11, my life took a turn for the better. A kindhearted Catholic priest Rev. Joe Arimpoor SDB came and rescued me from deprivation. He put me in a boarding school where I completed my schooling, electrical training as well as qualified professional ad filmmaker, which gave me a job.
In the year 2000 on Christmas day around 9 clock in the night, as I was crossing the street, I heard a groaning sound of a person, when I turned I saw one old naked man, curled up his body just to stay warm in the winter cold. I ran to the public telephone booth and called one of my know uncle to ask him for one old bed sheet to cover this naked old man, but the surprising answer I got is “I don’t have them now to give away”. This made me think and question the insensitivity of rich people towards the poor and needy ones. I went back home with a heavy heart. This incident pinched me and questioned my very existence and this was the turning point in my life to work with the neglected old and sick people on the streets.
As a filmmaker and editor, I visualize and bring the imperfect scenes to perfect scenes during editing. However, reality stands the same. These kinds of heart touching experience brought many questions within me, finally, I quit my profession, to work with homeless deprived people on the streets of Pondicherry, to edit and bring changes in their real lives.
According to me, everyone is important and valuable. Having firsthand knowledge of poverty, hunger, rejection, loneliness, and depression, I decided to dedicate my life to work with deprived people who live on the street. I relate to them because they face similar sufferings as I and my family had. So I started volunteering my service on Sunday’s in Mother Teresa home and ‘Birds of the Air’ organization, where we used to pack up food and clean cloths packets, go around the street by meeting meek and sick homeless people on the streets, giving them food and listening to them, which raised my spirit and gave me focus to work with them.
My vision is to see a culture where deprived homeless people are accepted, valued, loved, and live together as normal human beings in society.