Unsung Heroes

Yentha Heroes are not necessarily celebrities. Our hero is a person who brings a smile to our lives or who makes a difference in our neighbourhood. Suggest a hero and Yentha will do the rest. Trust us. Do you know anybody like this? Or a story waiting to be told?
Feeding The Homeless

sugunan yentha“Now that you are here, you shouldn’t leave without having a glass,” insists Suguthan, offering me a glass of buttermilk. The drink is refreshingly cool. I tell him I love it. “So if you like it now, on this rainy day, how would you feel having it in the hot season when your parched?” he asks.

I am at the home of Suguthan and his wife Shakunthala in Vazhayila. Suguthan, also called Swami Suguthan or Saadhu Suguthan, has all the looks of a hermit, with his long white hair, beard and many beaded necklaces.

He is no rich man. He has no apparent source of income. He lives in a minuscule home.  But for the past 35 years, he has been offering free meals of Kanji and Payar (rice porridge and beans) and pickle, and buttermilk to  whomsoever visits his place. His meals are mainly intended to feed homeless beggars. Though the city has officially been declared a beggar-free zone, dozens of them visit him daily to have their (sometimes only) meal.

Suguthan’s charity started when he once saw a beggar, too tired and unable to bear the hunger, eating mud from the roadside. It was then that he decided to dedicate his life to feeding the homeless. Earlier he used to have cows which provided him the milk to make curd. Now he needs to buy at least seven packets of milk a day. That costs him 70 bucks, not to count the cash spent on the meal. This is from a man who has a wife, and two children to feed. He daughter is doing her degree and his son is studying at the polytechnic.

“How do you afford it?” I wonder. “Lord Krishna is with me,” says Suguthan.  “When we lost the cows, we had to put an offerings box here. People donate money. It is sometimes hard. Sometimes we get enough to make for a day. Most days we don’t. We share our own food.”



sugunan certificates yenthaSuguthan's little homestead is lined with pictures and gifts given to him by various organisations. He is proud to point each of them out and remember the occasion when he got those. Surely he must be a much-respected man in the area, I assume. But lo, I am wrong. Suguthan wishes to speak no ill of anyone. But his face droops as he speaks about how the people in the area are vehemently against him and in denial.  “Don’t go and have his kanji,” they tell the people leaving from Suguthan's hut. Suguthan is saddened, but unconcerned. He bears them no ills. “I will do my work. I will manage,” he says. To know that such is the treatment being dished out to a noted humanitarian and sensitive being, in a state known for its literacy, is indeed heart rending.

As I bid him farewell and leave, he calls me back and offers me another glass. The taste of the first is still fresh in my mouth. I gladly accept. He bids me bye, “iniyum varane aniya”. And as I walk out of his little heaven, I am inspired to drop what cash I have into his little box outside. If there is anyone in this city to be called a hero, it is this man!



Swami Suguthan's home may be found on the left side of the road from peroorkada to vazhayila, near the mohandas motors service center. 



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Posted By : Akshaya, On Apr 23, 2010 10:03:50 AM
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good show.........cris....
Skumar, on Apr 23, 2010 01:12:05 PM
Cris, What an inspiring story you have covered. Life has become so poisoned by selfish actions that people like Sugunan and his wife seem to be from some ethereal world, here to give us a glimpse of what is possible. A true sage! How did you find this story?
Anand, on Apr 23, 2010 07:43:19 PM
Cris ? :-| I think this was my story ? and @anand i didnt FIND him all of a sudden. ive been there years back to have a drink. on a route i frequently take. he is a sage , kinda. They call him "swami sugunan". 35 years quite a long time huh?
Syam Nath, on Apr 23, 2010 10:32:48 PM
oops! Sorry Syam. Got confused on who wrote this. My mistake! Thank you for writing about this wonderful person. Your choice of words and those photographs make it very personal and moving! One of the best I have read in yentha so far. Looking forward to reading more from you.
Anand, on Apr 23, 2010 11:06:43 PM
@Anand Thank you. Honored to learn that you liked it. Yes, it is also one of my favorite writings here. You should talk to the man. Feels awesome. I feel we should also put his address here. In case someone wants to go there. Or donate or something. "Sugunan may be found on the left side of the road from peroorkada to vazhayila, near the mohandas motors service center. "
Syam Nath S, on Apr 23, 2010 11:14:48 PM
Brilliant article. Only if the media could give these people some publicity. Brilliant write up and good photos. The flash could have been avoided though. Would be great if you can translate the content of the pic as well. :) Sad to know that his neighbours do not support him. Keep writing.
Prasanth, on Apr 23, 2010 11:47:48 PM
@Anand and SKumar, The article was written and covered by Syam Nath :-). Will direct all your words of appreciation to him.
Cris, on Apr 25, 2010 03:14:50 PM
truly inspiring...looking forward for more...
Bhageerathi, on Apr 28, 2010 09:45:13 PM
Why don't you provide his address as well? Maybe one of us, the readers, would drop by his place to do our bit...
Benoy, on May 01, 2010 10:32:06 PM
@benoy. The last sentence in that article should help you. It is on the road side and you wouldnt miss if if you just went that way as said
Syam Nath, on May 05, 2010 09:00:48 PM
As far as a story is concerned a great find i must say. Good work.
Vineeth Krishnan, on May 10, 2010 11:36:26 PM
good subject matter.....presentation and article is just about average......but the subject makes it worth ur time.....
Ganesh, on May 11, 2010 07:52:46 PM
nice 2 kno dat der r still humane ppl arnd :) kudos 2 yentha 4 bringin out d extraordinary acts of ordinary ppl..
Gayathri Jayakumar, on May 20, 2010 01:14:06 PM
wow. this is the true spirit of charity. i salute you sir. great job. keep it up......
Seetha, on Jun 02, 2010 09:54:30 AM
very interesting piece of knowledge...i alwyz wonder why there is such a rush infront of his home....its such a pleasant sight during our bus journey.
Namita, on Jun 19, 2010 05:07:21 PM
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