Tiruchirapalli

National lockdown | At 85, he delivers milk with just a face mask

R. Pandian of Andakondan in Tiruchi goes for supplying milk to his customers.

R. Pandian of Andakondan in Tiruchi goes for supplying milk to his customers.   | Photo Credit: Jaishankar

Considering his ripe age, the octogenarian himself faces the risk of contracting the virus.

Braving odds in the wake of the enforcement of the prohibitory orders to check the spread of the COVID-19 virus, 85-year-old R. Pandian of Andakondan in Tiruchi, has been going about his routine of supplying fresh milk to the residents, a task that he has been doing diligently since his teenage.

But unlike ordinary days, he hardly gets to meet his customers since the lockdown as most of them avoid human contact. Considering his ripe age, the octogenarian himself faces the risk of contracting the virus. Wearing a face mask is the only precaution he takes.

His 70-year-old wife, Kamala Veni, has advised him to stop going for his routine. But, he remains undeterred and continues to pedal his way with his milk cans on the daily rounds, which includes climbing up various apartments in the Cantonment area in the city to deliver milk on time to his customers.

He wakes up at 3.30 am and pedals at least 30 km a day, after picking up the milk cans at West Boulevard Road in the city from his employer, to earn a daily wage of ₹600 a day.“I cannot imagine a day without delivering milk. Milkmen cannot take a break under any circumstances as the lactating mothers and elders eagerly wait for us. I did not stop supplying milk to my customers even on the day Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were assassinated,” says Mr. Pandian, who began supplying milk about 65 years ago.

A native of Manimutharu in Tirunelveli district, he came to Tiruchi in search of livelihood after a small tract of land of his family was acquired by the Government to build a dam when K. Kamaraj was the Chief Minister.

Mr. Pandian began delivering milk for the first time in the later part of 1950s. “One pucca (2.2 litre) of milk was sold for one ana and my wage was 1.5 ana then,” Mr. Pandian recalls going down memory lane. The milk he sells now costs ₹42 a litre.

Stating that the current situation where most of the countries in the world were under curfew was "unheard" of even during World War II, Mr. Pandian, however, is confident that the crisis would end soon. With a philosophical outlook, he says: “ This too shall pass.”

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 5:42:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/at-85-undeterred-he-delivers-milk-with-just-a-face-mask/article31272873.ece

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