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?
   
 
The Good Samaritan

If I had not met Mathew, I would never have believed that a man would ever choose to live this way! "The room is rather dirty," Mathew sounds apologetic before opening the old wooden door to his one room abode at Nalanchira. Inside, I am faced with more than ten dogs barking questioningly at me. An Alsatian look alike walked out. Screaming above the dogs, I managed to say, "You are one of the most protected men around!" And Mathew smiles. "I buy chicken pieces for her. She likes it." Mathew gives a piece he bought to the Alsatian who is the most recent member to join this tiny room where Mathew shares his space with his team of four legged friends, who chose to be there than be on the street.

 

 

 


"After much roaming, I finally reached Rome where I met Pope Paul 6th” Mathew was talking in flawless English. As my jaw drops, here comes the next “Then for further studies I went to the University of Heidelberg in Germany where I worked part time.” It may not be the stark contrast of his life then and his life now that hits you hard. But how he fits so well in both the pictures is what I find incredible! This room which was part of an old lodge suddenly looks big enough to hold all including me on the stool with perked ears and an old kerosene stove kept right underneath my stool for lack of space. This broken stove helps Mathew  feed his wagging tail troop. Mathew makes a daily trip to the market. He buys some, people give him some. “These leafy leftovers are good for them,” Mathew points to the spinach and the crispy ‘Murukku’ which he gives them in the evening “It’s a small treat that they wait for every evening!” The stove badly burned Mathew recently. But he takes it as an occupational hazard.

 

 

 

Twice he suffered from fractures in road accidents and both times he recovered to come back to his room and to those waiting eagerly for him. “Everything happened for a purpose. I was finding it hard to make ‘tails’ meet those days. The accidents somehow took things further and helped me survive,” speaks this man, who ekes a living taking tuitions. There is  an unwavering spark of faith in his eyes. “I know that Jesus has entrusted me to his own, Joseph and Mary. Some mornings when I don’t have a penny in my pocket I ask them, “What will you do today?” Mathew says with a fondness that comes from familiarity. And help comes his way which “are not miracles, but show that my dogs  and I are being looked upon.”

 

 

 

 

Born to Elamma Kurien and Matthai Kurien in Thalayolaparambil in 1936 on a Christmas Eve, Mathew who started his life as an altar boy was destined to be different. It still remains a puzzle whether it was the Almighty’s choice or Mathew’s own. In 1950 he left home to study in a residential school in Thirupathur near Vellore. After being educated in a series of premier institutions, Mathew took the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience to become Brother Mathew. and attended practical training in Don Bosco, Mumbai. After graduating in  Maths in 1961 from Sacred Heart’s College, he joined  St Bede’s ICSE School in Mylapore as a teacher. “Your troubles will start now,” my superior warned me as I got ready for Rome, Mathew says about his metamorphosis from a priest to a commoner. “Soon I knew what he meant. Within a few years I gave up my priesthood”. He wrote to the Pope himself and got himself out of the system.

 

 

In 1983 he reached Trivandrum to find work and life. “It’s not that I want to keep dogs but they need me. So I look after them.” Noticing sick and hungry dogs on the streets, he started to feed them and soon they followed his footsteps. Where usually people throw them out, he did not and instead, gave them space to snuggle in his tiny nest. By the time he finishes tuition at Paruthippara and comes home feeding the dogs on the way with the food he carries from home for them, it is 11:00 pm. Then he cleans and feeds the ones at home  till 1:00 or 2:00 pm.

One realizes that he is detached from all those mundane matters to which people are usually chained to. With humility and an unseen strength of spirituality this man adapts like a flower to sunlight to the wooden bench where he sleeps, to the old clothes hanging on the coir line across the room, to the fading, broken walls, to his torn mundu, to the old wooden tables bearing the burden of the cluster, to the aged, calendar with Mother Mary’s photo and the cross above, to the well where he takes a cold bath every morning and to the mornings themselves which he starts by cleaning his dogs’ waste from the road side. “Otherwise people complain” he says as one dog nudges close to him with love.

 

 

 

 

Mathew’s father passed away when he was 11 and his mother 4 years back. His younger brothers Auseppachan and Chakkochan wait for him at Kuryanad near Kottayam. “I will leave the city when I can provide a facility for not just my dogs, but also street dogs to be looked after. Local selfgoverning bodies only can do that. Sterilize them and provide them with a space to be away from human interference.” Mathew is undeterred about his views on the subject. As I leaves with a filled heart, Mathew says “Thank You”. But who will thank Mathew, I wonder. Probably God Himself.

- by Shameem Faruque

 

-

 
Posted By : Yentha, On Jul 21, 2011 02:55:15 PM
 
 
Report Abuse    Report Error    Comments SMS/E-Mail
 
 
OMG! This is the most beautiful thing anyone can do... Brought a tear to my eye... God bless him... (whendasungoesdown.blogspot.com)
NNNiiiXXX, on Sep 21, 2011 12:02:17 PM
 
Archives
 
 
Bookmark and Share