TAMBARAM: He is probably the only salesman, or boy, who is welcomed by residents and traders. Aged 15, S. Sardar travels more than 100 km from home at a village near Arakkonam to Chennai's southern suburbs, selling maps, informative charts, and pictures of deities and scenic posters.
A Standard VII student of a panchayat union middle school at Chinnammapettai near Thiruvelangadu, he has been visiting suburbs for more than one year to support his family. His father Syed is a knife-sharpener, while his mother Parveen is a housewife. Their eldest son Mehboob Basha is doing a diploma course in air-conditioner servicing.
Sardar's elder sisters Gulab and Kamal Bi are school dropouts while younger brothers Thameem and Nizam are in Class VI and IV. As the father's income barely suffices for a hand-to-mouth existence, Sardar volunteered to do some work to supplement income. ``My uncle used to bring maps and pictures of sceneries from Salem. It gave me an idea of selling them in and around Chennai'', said Sardar.
While he attends school during weekdays, his day begins very early at weekends. He wakes up at 4 a.m. to catch the first train to reach Tiruvallur from where he takes a bus to reach Poonamallee. His trips have taken him to Porur, Chromepet, Pallavaram, Tambaram and even Adyar.
"I manage a sale of around Rs. 600 at weekend,'' Sardar said. He hands over his earnings of about Rs. 2,000 a month to his parents.
The family lives in a small hut at Harichandrapuram and he walks about six km everyday along with his brothers to school and back home.
``I want to study more. I want to go to college and then get a good job'', said the boy.