On sweltering afternoons, during March and April, the burning sun withers your skin and wilts your spirits. And that’s when my ice-cold, fresh water melon juice comes to the rescue. Painters, carpenters, people who have come to pay their bills at the water supply board...all come to my stall to quench their thirst . After they gulp down the last drop of the drink, they pay me 10 rupees, along with a smile of gratitude.

This road is blessed with tall trees that give shade and relief to us on sunny days. People park their swanky cars under their canopy, relish the water melon juice and relax. Children prefer to bite into the juicy flesh of the fruit and spit out the seeds. People as far as from Peelamedu come here. They get the juice packed in bottles. They say they prefer my shop because it is clean.

I buy the water melons from Krishnagiri and Hosur. I keep my juice in an ice box. Apart from water melon juice, I also sell mixed fruit juice made of lychee, apple, orange, pineapple and grapes. My rose milk also has a loyal following.

I have been doing this job for the past 15 years. When other shops sell these juice for Rs. 30, I sell them for just Rs. 10. Many tell me to raise the price to Rs. 15. But, I am happy with this rate because, during summer we get a steady flow of customers. Profit is assured. I get best business during April. I make a living by selling other seasonal fruits such as pineapple, grapes and oranges, the rest of the year, from my fruit shop in Sai Baba Colony.

There are at least two or three water melon stalls, on this road. These are run by my brothers and father. As a family, we have been selling water melons for the past 60 years. I have studied till tenth standard. Then, I joined a spinning mill as supervisor. But, the work became hectic as there were not enough labourers.

I quit the job and joined my family in selling water melons. I realised I enjoyed it more than any thing I ever did in my life. Now, I can meet new people and make new friends.

Moreover, I do not have to take orders from anyone. I am my own boss.

I belong to Tirunelveli. All our uncles, sisters and family friends live there. Tirunelveli is a vibrant town. The Nellaiappar chariot festival in Tirunelveli is considered special and popular. I make it a point never to miss it.

That’s one time I forget about work. I become one among the villagers and immerse myself in the kovil festivities.

(Ashok’s stall is at Bharathi Park Road, Sai Baba Colony)