“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define darkness,” a famous quote by Anne Frank, which seems appropriate for Vishnu’s case. A blanket merchant from Madhya Pradesh, Vishnu gave away his entire stock of 50 blankets to the flood-relief camp set up at the Adichukooti Government School, Mangad.
28-year-old, Vishnu is a native of Neemuch in the Ujjain district and has been selling blankets for the last 12 years in areas around Iritty, in Kannur district of Kerala, The Week reported. Moreover, his family comprises of his four brothers, his wife, Kumkum and his two children- a five-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter.
‘Kerala has given me everything.’
The Week did a detailed interview with him, in which he mentioned how the State had given him so much in life. He said, “Kannur is my second home. Kerala has given me everything—a place to stay, a livelihood to support my family and raise my children… and perfect climate. I am seeing Kerala in such agony for the first time. I cannot afford to watch people suffer, and I gave them what I had.”
Furthermore, he purchases his blankets from Panipat, Haryana and runs his business along with his four partners. On August 10, the media outlet was informed that Vishnu visited the Iritty Taluk office with his fresh stock of 50 blankets, on what was supposed to be an usual day of business for him. However, the deputy tahsildar Lakhshmanan warned him against visiting villages in the midst of floods.
Lakhshmanan told The Week, “Vishnu used to visit our office with a huge pile of blankets, doormats or dress materials. All of us used to purchase products from him. Moderate pricing and his frequent visits made him a trusted trader. When he came with about 50 blankets on Friday, I told him of the bad weather and flood situation in the district. I said it is better to stay away from flood-affected areas as there were reports of landslides.”
The Deputy tahsildar then elaborated the chaotic conditions of the people in the relief camps, after which, Vishnu expressed his desire to donate all his blankets. He further said, “I thought he was joking. I asked him how he would earn his living if he donated his blankets. However, Vishnu was adamant. We took him to the Adichukootti school where a new camp had opened. Fortunately, Kannur collector Mir Mohammed Ali was on a visit to that camp and Vishnu could directly give the blankets to him.”
It is worth noting that Vishnu in his interview also spoke about the discrimination he encountered in Kerala. He revealed, “Back in North India, we are all connected by Hindi. However, no matter how you serve, you will remain a ‘bhayya’ in Kerala. However, once you learn the language, everything is fine. (You) Can’t blame the natives because that’s the kind of news they hear about us. No one writes about the good things we do.”
Vishnu through his business now earns as much as Rs 36,000 from each stock, some of which he sends back to his parents in Neemuch. He is also pursuing a BA degree in Hindi through a long-distance course.
Lastly, he re-emphasises the role played by the state in taking him into its protection and mentioned how the people always helped him when in need. He was quoted as saying, “Keralites helped me when I wanted money. Now, they are in a need, and all that I have are some blankets. I shall stay by their side through thick and thin”.
Social media praised him as a Hero
His story became instantly viral on Twitter, with people hailing his efforts. #BlanketMerchant, #Vishnu trended on Twitter. Some of the tweets read:
— FYI (@_NairFYI) August 11, 2018
The idea of India…….the sheer generosity and kindness of those who don't have too much https://t.co/symylzaxbB
— Harini Calamur (@calamur) August 12, 2018
When asked about the overnight fame, he told The Week, “Baap re! Has my news gone viral? My wife will be amused!”.
Kerala is facing one the worst floods in many decades. As of now 39 people have been killed and fresh warnings of rain alert have been issued by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) for the next 48 hours in the state, The Indian Express informed. Moreover, the newspaper also noted that the State so far has suffered a loss of Rs 8,316 crore, even as the Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced a relief fund of Rs 100 crore, on Sunday.
The water level in the Idukki dam finally has dropped below 2,400 ft to 2397.58, which was welcome news for many residents of the state, alleviating further flood concerns in the area, Firstpost noted. The media house also stated that around 3095 people are being housed in 17 different shelter camps across the State.
Earlier on August 11, the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in an attempt to seek more funds asked people to generously donate in the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund. He tweeted:
Saving their lives was our priority. Now it is our duty to help them rebuild it. Contribute generously to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund. #KeralaFloods #KeralaFloodRelief pic.twitter.com/eNHjyENt8d
— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) August 11, 2018
At this hour of mayhem, when humans are dispersed in devastation due to the aftermath of Kerala Floods, people like Vishnu, who are stepping forward to help their fellow beings, proves that humanity is still alive today. The Logical Indian salutes Vishnu for helping distressed flood victims and keeping a ray of hope bright.