It would seem that Good Samaritans in Somanahalli village are as extinct as the Panda. Rich dudes prefer donating to temples. Please the Gods hoping that their philanthropic intent would generate two-way traffic. And what about the government? Well, governments will be governments. They do their bit, but perhaps, not enough.
Murugan is a man with a mission. He could manage to squeeze in education till class ten at the village school. He had to chuck it all up because he didn't have fifty rupees to pay for the exam fee. And not a soul he could reach out to. Murugan's forefathers migrated from Malaysia. They had land in Somanahalli. But then, his father took to the bottle and with that his hopes and aspirations poured away. So did the land. His sisters helped him up to a point. Beyond that, he had to fend for himself.
He left Somanahalli in search of greener pastures, instead, was smacked in the face with many disappointments. Bhadravati to Harihar, Conjeevaram to Hosur - he did the rounds, one odd job after another. One day, when working as a car driver in a factory, some of the other drivers were inflicted with that irritating infection, "Madras Eye" and couldn't take the wheels. Murugan was called to fill-in and that was his first big break. Since then, Murugan has been a "Casual Employee" with Titan Industries as a driver, in Hosur. He also managed a M.A. in History studying through correspondence.
Though he lives in Bangalore, not once has he turned his back on the village. He started the Village Youth Social Welfare Group and is its President today. He goes about collecting pictures of Indian Leaders to fill those classroom walls hoping that stories of our freedom struggle would inculcate much needed inspiration. "Each year, Independence Day celebrations at the school are a must," says Murugan. He even cajoled a friend to spend 2700 rupees and install an iron flagpole to replace the bamboo pole for hoisting the National Flag. Whenever he visits the village, he teaches at the school or is in conference with his Youth Association mates on "School Needs" lists. "We all have to take the initiative and work towards making the difference," he adds.
What drives this man to hop onto a bus and head towards Somanahalli at the first available hint of free time? What inspires him to shoot off dozens of letters to company CEOs and ask for donations of notebooks, pencils, chalk, play things, water filters for these school children? Does he have a vested interest? None. He doesn't ask for money. "People will make all kinds of talk if I do that. I only ask for things that the school needs," adds Murugan, conscious of the fact that some sections of the community don't approve of his "Pied Piper" role. Murugan's concern is genuine and there's no denying that his motivating methods are producing results.
He looks forward to the day when one of these children makes it into the big league. And to make that happen, someone had to take the lead. "So why not me?" he asks. "What happened to me needn't happen to others?" The inference is obvious. He coaxed the women folk of the village panchayat to declare this as a "No Alcohol Zone." Anyone indulging in bootlegging or drinking in the vicinity will earn the wrath of the women folk. And that can be quite something.
Murugan hasn't forgotten his disappointment of that day when he didn't have fifty rupees. He had broken down and cried. And today, he wants to be around just in case any of these kids may want to reach out to someone. "I was deprived of proper education and I know how it feels. By doing this, I'm ensuring that at least these children get basic facilities."
There's an old Chinese proverb that says, "To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root."