Society

I am… Ajith Kumar

Ajith Kumar Photo: Athira M.   | Photo Credit: Athira M.



Occupation: Sells charcoal

Not many people know that such a shop exists, right? My family has been in this business for nearly 70 years now. It was started by my father, late Sukumaran Nair. He earlier used to run the shop on Power House Road. In those days, there were five or six other shops that sold charcoal. Later the shop was shifted here, near Pazhavangady Ganapathy Temple, on the road leading to Thakaraparambu.

This is wood charcoal that we are selling. Earlier we used to sell coal made from trees such as mango and cashew. But now we depend on suppliers from Tamil Nadu. They make it from the wood of Seemai Karuvelam, which you find in plenty in Tamil Nadu. Some call it ‘Odamullu’ also. The tree has long thorns and it is useful only as fuel. They grow in arid areas and we get it from places such as Pillaiyarnatham and Ettayapuram. The wood become coal after a long process. The timber is cut into small pieces and piled up in a huge pit. It is then covered with clay and baked to make coal.

We replenish the stock as and when needed. The coal is used for various purposes. Usually we get two varieties – one is big chunks of coal that is used for tandoor grills in hotels and catering units.

Then we get fairly smaller pieces of coal, which is then sorted out. This is sold to households and hotels and a major share is bought by those who use coal irons. The smallest pieces is needed by blacksmiths and goldsmiths. Charcoal powder is used for earthing an electrical network. The sorting out process is quite laborious and I have an employee, Siraj, who manages it.

We are open on all days, except Sundays, from 7.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. I have three elder brothers and they were taking care of the shop till I started managing it.

I have studied till class ten and didn’t pursue my studies further. Today I earn a steady income to take care of my family comprising wife, Sudhamini, and son, Ananthakrishnan.

The business is dull because there is a sharp dip in the quantity of coal supplied. That’s why you don’t find many charcoal selling shops in the city. Now the scenario is that the Tamil Nadu government has been directed by Madras High Court to uproot the Karuvelam trees since it has been found to be the main cause behind depletion of water resources. So people are not planting new trees once they burn the existing trees for wood.

You might wonder why I still continue to run the shop. It is because this is what my father used to do.

(A column on men and women who make Thiruvananthapuram what it is)

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 3:02:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/I-am%E2%80%A6-Ajith-Kumar/article14486682.ece

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