Sukumaran Nair sits patiently under the shade of a tree across the statue of a mother and child at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College. The old man is a patient who can barely walk. He calls a younger man and enquires when lunch will be served. Nivedh tells him he will bring it as soon as it comes. Not just Sukumaran Nair, 150 others wait for the lunch packets that Nivedh would arrange for them every day at 12 pm, poor patients and their relatives at the Medical College.
They wait in long queues for two hours in the hope of being amongst those who get lunch. “The fact that they wait so long in the sun for their lunch is proof of their poverty,” says Nivedh, a young entrepreneur, who started this practice two years ago.
“It started with two meals given to two poor persons on the street. My friend, who was an alcoholic wanted to do something to help him quit drinking. I suggested he contribute towards meals for two who can’t afford it. I had heard of Navajeevan Thomas who has been distributing lunch to 5000 patients and relatives at the Kottayam Medical College for over 11 years and wanted to do something on those lines. My friend did it for two days, bringing food from a hotel. On the third day, we cooked the food at home. My wife Saritha offered to make meals for four.”
As days passed, four became 10 and 20, 50 and 100. Saritha, who works at a blood bank would start early morning, cook a 100 meals and go to work. “It started with four, and the number of packets increased gradually, I didn’t think of it as a huge challenge,” she says. Once the couple decided to make the number 150, they hired help.
“Also, I get a lot of support from the people at ‘Art of Living’. I was inspired by the teachings of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to do ‘seva’,” adds Nivedh. This Monday, another ‘Art of Living’ follower Madhava Kurup contributed the meals, on the occasion of his son’s birthday. Nivedh and Saritha’s little son Jesus Nabi Krishna stands nearby watching his parents and learning more about life than many of his peers will ever learn at school. Back home he teaches the same to his sibling Murali Mayura.