While on beat duty along the Aluva-Thrippunithura Ernakulam line, assistant sub-inspector M Dharmarajan is reminded of a boy - a young Rajan, who used to run across the rail track in front of his house to collect the plastic glasses that were thrown out of train by the passengers.
During school holidays, Rajan used to clean tables at hotels and mix cement at construction sites. He failed in class 9 thrice. Though he was able to clear SSLC in his first attempt, he could not complete pre-degree. Due to his financial difficulties, he had to discontinue his studies and worked for a lawyer. He later wrote the PSC exam and became a police constable. The lad who was called Rajan by the local people is non other than ASI Dharmarajan.
Same track but two tales
When he was working with the Cherthala traffic police, Dharmarajan was posted at the Ernakulam South Railway police station on deputation for three years. He became a member of the police team that had to ensure the safety of the train passengers from Thiruvananthapuram to Thrissur. Today, as he travels in uniform along the same track through which he used to compete with his friends to pick discarded glasses, Dharmarajan is filled with pride.
But his journey from the struggling lad to the cop was strewn with miseries.
Struggling his way through
"Today I am fortunate enough to have a proper house and good clothes. But back then, I did not even have a proper shelter. I was born in Kollam and grew up in Thrippunithura. Till class 7, I studied at the Thrippunithura Mission School and RLV School. Then I studied at the Irumpanam High School. As mid-day meals were provided, I was not left starving on school days,” Dharmarajan recounted.
“As we did not have our own house or land, my mother and we four children stayed in a shed next to our uncles' house at Chithrapuzha. Later on, we got 4 cents of land at Kambivelikakam colony at Thiruvankulam with the help of panchayat member Bhadra. We built a thatched house and started living there.
“During the monsoon, the roof would leak and the water fill the floor. There have been nights when we stayed awake till morning or sought shelter at the houses in the neighbourhood. There was no door for the house. Just a screen made of clothes to cover the entrance. During those days, I used to leave at 5am to pick scrap glass. I used to get 5 paisa for one glass. After collecting the glasses, I would sell these once a month,” he explained.
Dharmarajan also did several odd jobs to earn a living.“I used to go for road works on holidays along with contractor Rajan, who was a neighbour. Another job those days was to sell cigarettes, toffees, and buttermilk that I used to carry around in a box. I was also a street vendor, selling clothes near the level crossing. Then became a salesman in shops,” he added.
“Amid this, the thatched roof was replaced with tiled roof with the help from Block Development Office. Although I joined Al-Ameen College, Edathala, for pre-degree, I had to discontinue studies the due to abject poverty.” Then he worked as a gumasthan (clerk) for lawyers. “I worked with two lawyers. Both of them retired as judges. It was during this job that I wrote the PSC exam and became a police constable in 1999,” he said.
Dharmarajan is not trained in music but is a singer and has been performing with 'ganamela' troupes, local bands from 2005. He knows nearly 450 songs from Malayalam, Hindi and Tamil films. Interestingly, Dharmarajan can dehusk the coconut using his teeth in just 40 seconds!
Mini is his wife and their son Mithun Raj is a keyboard player, while daughter Reshmi is a YouTuber. The family resides at Vennikulam now.