Slice of Life: ‘I can’t vacate pavement as it is my only option’

Every person has a story to share. This column puts the spotlight on the people of Chennai, faces we see but rarely interact with — giving a glimpse into their struggle.
K Joseph
K Joseph

Chennai

I have been working as a two-wheeler mechanic for more than 29 years and I had a rented workshop in Vepery. But I had to vacate the shop to make way for a multi-storeyed apartment. As I do not know any other trade, I started to fix vehicles on the pavement using simple tools. I earn between Rs 200 and Rs 300 per day and that is enough for me, as I live alone. I got separated from my wife many years ago and we don’t have children. I dropped out of school very early. I was once a sought-after mechanic in the area and had many regular customers. Due to the lack of a proper shop and a hand injury that I sustained in a road accident 10 years ago, I could not take up major works and lost customers gradually. 
At times, the police and Greater Chennai Corporation officials would come and ask me to vacate the pavement. But I could not vacate the place as it is my only means of survival. However, I would not come to the workshop for at least two or three days after the eviction raid fearing that the officials would seize my tools. So I return only after the situation subsides. Had I completed the education, my life would have been easier.

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