Librarian Kalyansundaram – The real hero
When as a society we are so used to seeing self-obsessed, self-centered, self-engrossed people around us, we can’t imagine that people like Kalyansundaram also exist amongst us. These days we see people evolved as hard wired and generally predisposed. It is so difficult for people to explain what altruism is in a general sense. People find it very difficult to contribute; even if they are in position to help, care for someone, contribute, and provide; they shy away from doing so. People don’t mind wastage, but giving is generally difficult. People generally fear giving time, money or efforts to others perhaps because they fear consequences. The biggest challenge in giving is that you overcome the fear of losing but still you go beyond your basic ability of holding on.
It’s really stirring to recognize Kalyansundaram – a retired librarian of Kumarkurupara Arts College at Srivaikuntam in Tuticorin district. For this 73 years old philanthropist, humanity has been his guiding principle of life. Kalyansunderam holds a gold medal in library science; he also holds a master’s degree in literature and history. Throughout his 30 years long career, he conscientiously and willingly donated his salary month after month towards charity and did odd jobs to meet his daily needs. Even after retirement, he works as a waiter in a hotel in exchange for two meals a day and a paltry salary. Even today, he continues to donate to children’s educational funds.
This thin, frail man, who sports a shy smile, has determination and fire in him to serve the society. He speaks in a childish manner in a high-pitched voice. He has told in some of his interviews that he lived in a tiny village with lack of any infrastructural amenities – no provision for roads, buses, schools, electricity, and there was not even a shop to buy a matchbox from. He had to walk 10 km to school and back and walking all that way alone was a pretty lonesome experience. Hence, he thought of motivating some more children to go to school. He thought going to school in a group of children would be great fun. Those days children could not afford to pay school fees which was as much as Rs.5/- only. So Kalyansunderam offered to pay their school fees, got them books and clothes as well. So from early childhood, he formulated the habit of giving. He had lost his father in his childhood, his mother was the guiding force in his life and she instilled in him the courage of giving and donating.
He has sometimes slept on railway platforms and pavements to have an experience of what poor people go through. In true sense Kalyansundaram is a hero. He is hero because of his high moral character, value based living, and helping the humanity. He is living a simple life in spite of earning several monetary awards. He has donated Rs.30 crores of prized money given to him by an American Organization as “Man of the millennium” and even after he retired as a librarian, he donated his pension of Rs. 10 lakhs! It seems the super star of south Rajnikanth has adopted him as his father! Well, this happens only in India!!
While United Nations has recognized this man as “outstanding people of the century” and International Biographical Centre at Cambridge has recognized him as one of the most notable intellectuals of the world and some American organizations have honored him, the Government of Indian Honor System is yet to credit this simple yet outstanding man for his yeoman services. When film actors, cricketers, entertainers and politicians of this country are awarded for little or unworthy causes, it’s a pity and shame on all Indians for their blindfolded honoring system. Well, he has been acclaimed as the best librarian in India by the Union Government – but his outstanding self-sacrifice is yet to be recognized.
So who is a real hero? A hero is someone who does something for society, someone who people look up to and say ‘I wish I could do the things he has done’. A hero has the extraordinary ability to rise above those around him, he’s willing to do things that most just dream or imagine of. Wanting to do something is the first step towards establishing someone as a hero. And, heroism is what the heart and soul make the mind and body do in challenging circumstances. Young people need heroes to look up to and to emulate. The coming generations do need examples to understand meaning of generosity. Heroes are the key to any nation’s success. A nation needs to recognize ‘real’ outstanding people. I wish wholeheartedly that the Indian Honor System recognizes Kalyansunderam soon.